Ender Inciarte ready to provide leadership for Braves

Bill Shanks

Ender Inciarte needs to be good for the Braves this season. Like, really good. 

With Nick Markakis gone and questions about who will fill time at first base in place of Freddie Freeman, the depth for the position players is not as solid as it was when camp started.

The outfield will likely have Inciarte in center, Ronald Acuna in right and Adam Duvall in left. The Braves will rely on Inciarte to be a big part of the offense and to provide great defense in the outfield.

Last season was Inciarte's worst of his four years in Atlanta. He hit .246 in only 199 at bats, with a .343 OBP, five home runs and 24 RBI. Injuries obviously kept him out of the lineup; that's something the Braves can ill afford to have happen this season.

Inciarte is signed through next year for $8.7 million. There's an option for the 2022 season at $9 million, with a $1.02 million buyout. The Braves desperately need Inciarte to do well this season to help them win, and to also help improve his own trade value.

Let's be honest. With top prospects Cristian Pache and Drew Waters not too far away, Inciarte's time with the Braves could end this winter. It would certainly help if Inciarte were more like the player he was in 2017 when he had 201 hits and was an All-Star compared to his injury-plagued 2019 season.

And, now 29 years old, Inciarte needs to provide leadership, especially with Markakis now gone. Veterans who have been around the block a time or to will need to keep the younger players in line, through this challenging two-plus-month stretch.

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