Ender Inciarte's elite glove was ahead of his bat once again in 2016, but he still contributed enough to be useful in most formats. He hit the disabled list a week into the season with a groin injury and was very slow to return to form when he got healthy. He limped into the break with a .227/.294/.306 line but still managed eight steals on 11 attempts. After the break, he looked much more like the guy we saw for Arizona in 2015, as he hit .341/.396/.440 the rest of the way while stealing another eight bases on 12 attempts. He also more than doubled the 26 runs scored before the break with 59 runs in the second half. The Braves were sold on his all-around skill set and inked him to a five-year, $30.5 million extension during the offseason. He should be the leadoff hitter for the retooled Atlanta lineup in 2017, and if he can avoid injury and play in 150-plus games, he could break the 30-steal plateau, flirt with 100 runs and post a batting average around .290.
Inciarte is back in camp after playing for Team Venezuela at the WBC and will return to the lineup Tuesday, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports. He last saw Grapefruit League action March 4 but was a regular in Venezuela's lineup during the tournament, slashing .292/.333/.417 in 24 at-bats, so Inciarte shouldn't be behind the rest of Atlanta's starters in getting ready for Opening Day.
Inciarte will play for Team Venezuela at the WBC, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports. The 26-year-old will start in an outfield that will also feature the Rockies' Carlos Gonzalez and the Phillies' Odubel Herrera. Inciarte set a career high with a .351 OBP last season, but his main goal in 2017 will be to stay healthy and avoid the nagging injuries that have cost him 61 games over the past two years.
Inciarte has reached an agreement with the Braves on a five-year, $30.25 million contract extension. The Braves acquired Inciarte from Arizona in the Shelby Miller deal last offseason, and their Year 1 return included a career-high .351 OBP (7.8 percent BB%) and very good outfield defense. An early-season hamstring injury limited Inciarte to 131 games, but he still managed to pick up 16 stolen bases after swiping 21 for the D-backs in 2015. The extension buys out one year of free agency, and will give the Braves control of Inciarte through the 2021 season.
Inciarte went 3-for-4 with a double, walk and three runs in Saturday's 7-3 win over the Nationals. The productive leadoff man was a constant thorn in the side of Nationals pitching, notching his fourth multi-hit outing in the last six games. Inciarte has also hit safely in six of his last seven contests, scoring a whopping 11 runs over that span. His productive second half of the season has his season line up to .293/.351/.386 and he's been a key cog in the Braves' offensive resurgence of the past several weeks.
Inciarte went 3-for-5 with an RBI infield single and run in Friday's 8-4 victory over the Phillies. The dynamic leadoff man was an excellent table-setter Friday, extending his hitting streak to 11 games and bringing up his season line to .291/.352/.383 in the process. Inciarte opened the scoring for the Braves in the fifth with an infield single that brought in Gordon Beckham and later scored the go-ahead run on a ninth-inning Freddie Freeman double. Inciarte now has four multi-hit efforts in his last five games and has been a key part of the Braves' offensive resurgence of the last several weeks.