Last year at this time I wrote a series on the position players, “Where Do We Go From Here?” Think of this as “How Did We Come From There?”
The Atlanta Braves reversed a 72 – 90 record in 2017 to a 90 – 72 record, and a National League East division championship, without adding a single starting position player from outside the organization. How did this happen? I have no idea. (You can review the entire “Where Do We Go From Here” series here.)
“Albies has 695 career AAA plate appearances, batting .272. I see Ozzie batting around .265 in his first full MLB season, and increasing from there.”
Ozzie Albies teased everyone by putting up a .281/.318/.516 line by the All-Star break, before slumping to .226/.282/.342 in the second “half,” and settling about where he should have been expected: .261/.305/.452. A nice surprise however, were his 24 home runs, the first time he broke double digits at any level, and contributing to a 3.8 WAR (per Baseball Reference) for the season. Once again, here’s a link Alex shared earlier that describes how special Albies is for his age. It would have been better to have had a strong 2nd half to build on, but looking at the larger body of work, Ozzie Albies is just fine.
“Dansby Swanson now has 696 career Major League plate appearances with a .246/.322/.348 career line, which I feel represents the 24 year old’s floor.”
Compare the career numbers coming in to 2018’s results of .238/.304/.395, and offensively, Dansby Swanson did about the minimum expected. However, Swanson added 14 home runs, stole 10 bases, and made substantial improvements on the defensive side. In 2016, the Braves had only 2 position players with WAR greater than 2.0. In 2018, Swanson was credited with 2.3 WAR, and still had the lowest total of the starters (if you combine Kurt Suzuki and Tyler Flowers.) This is despite missing a couple of weeks in May, and again in September, with a sore left wrist.
“If you think a Johan Camargo / Rio Ruiz platoon looks good, it is only because you have been watching the Braves for too long. For comparison, these are the 3rd basemen on the National League playoff teams: Justin Turner. Kris Bryant. Anthony Rendon. Jake Lamb. Nolan Arenado.”
These ramblings from some internet rando aged poorly, as Camargo joined Turner, Bryant, Arenado, and Mike Moustakas (Travis Shaw, if you prefer,) as the 3rd basemen on the 2018 National League playoff teams. After putting up encouraging numbers in limited 2017 at bats, Camargo settled in with a .272/.349/.457 line in 2018, adding 19 home runs in 464 at bats. Camargo missed the first couple of weeks with an oblique injury, and did not take over the starting position until May, as the Braves rode the Hot Hand of Ryan Flaherty and the Veteran Presence of Jose Bautista. When the Braves finally put themselves in position to get lucky with a younger player, it paid off with 3.7 WAR calculated for 2018.
“Freddie Freeman turned 28 in September, and as he continues through his prime years, it is logical to pencil him in for another .300/.400/.570 slash line, such as he turned in at ages 26 and 27.”
Freddie’s power numbers dropped off a bit, but at .309/.388/.505 his 6.1 WAR led the Braves. An established and consistent MLB hitter in his prime, he’s the best kind of boring, really.