Outfield continuity bodes well for Braves

Outfield continuity bodes well for Braves

ATLANTA -- The Braves used 14 different starting outfielders over the course of the 267 games that were played from the start of the 2015 season through Aug. 1 of this past season. Their only players to make at least 75 starts as an outfielder within this span were Nick Markakis (249) and Cameron Maybin (126), who spent the entirety of the '16 season on the Tigers' roster.

While Markakis provided stability in right field and both Maybin and Ender Inciarte did their part to create some consistency in center field, the Braves used 12 different starting left fielders within the span that preceded the arrival of Matt Kemp, who made his Atlanta debut on Aug. 2 before serving as the starting left fielder during 54 of the Braves' remaining 56 games.

Over the course of this 56-game stretch, the Braves used a total of six different players as a starting outfielder. But Kemp (54 starts), Inciarte (54) and Markakis (53) were the only Atlanta players to be in the lineup as a starting outfielder more than three times within this span.

Bowman on Inciarte's extension

There is always a need to create insurance to protect against those health-related issues that will inevitably influence a lineup's makeup within any season, but with Kemp, Inciarte and Markakis, the Braves are approaching this season with a pretty good feel for how their outfield mix could look on a daily basis.

"These guys want to play on a daily basis and they don't want to talk about taking days off," Braves manager Brian Snitker said. "It's a good feeling knowing who you will have a chance to put out there on a daily basis."

A little more than three months before the start of the 2015 season, Markakis underwent a neck operation that was similar to the procedure that sidelined Mets third baseman David Wright for the final four months of this past season. It took Markakis more than a year to regain all of his strength, but his determination and dedication has been legitimized, as only three other Major Leaguers -- Kole Calhoun, Andrew McCutchen and Kevin Pillar -- have logged more innings as an outfielder than him since the surgery.

Markakis led the National League this past season with 1,339 innings logged as an outfielder. Christian Yelich ranked second with 1,319 innings.

Markakis' nice catch

Inciarte has spent time on the disabled list with a hamstring strain in each of the past two seasons. But the Gold Glove Award winner remained healthy over the final five months of this past season and stood with Seattle's Leonys Martin and Boston's Jackie Bradley Jr. as MLB's only players to log more than 590 innings as a center fielder after the All-Star break.

Kemp was saddled by injuries in 2012 and '13, but he has played at least 150 games in each of the three seasons that have followed. The 32-year-old veteran ranked fifth in the NL this past season with 1,293 innings as an outfielder.

With the versatility possessed by Sean Rodriguez and Jace Peterson, the Braves have a couple of super-utility types who could occasionally spell any of the three starting outfielders. Other backup options include three players -- Emilio Bonifacio, Chase d'Arnaud and the recently acquired Micah Johnson -- who will come to Spring Training fighting for a roster spot.

Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.