#26: Julio Teheran

See the 44 Greatest Atlanta Braves here.

When this list was created, we just weren’t quite as reactionary. You can thank Twitter and Facebook and other sites that beg for your immediate hot take. And I wonder if you’re reading this saying that Julio Teheran is not one of the 44 Greatest Atlanta Braves, let alone #24. Well, he definitely is.

The last two years, sure, Julio Teheran has largely been a league average starter, a 5th starter on a contending team. Also, the knock on Julio Teheran historically has been that he’s not an Ace(TM), a pitcher that will throw 8 shutout innings when you need them. He’s only made two All-Star teams, one of which in 2016 when he was one of the few — maybe only — players deserving to be the team’s lone representative during a horrible season. He’s had an ERA over 4 twice, and just barely missed having two straight seasons with an ERA over 4 in these last two years. And he’s currently viewed as one of the less talented starting pitchers in an organization that currently has a lot of talented starting pitchers. He’s never gotten any Cy Young votes.

But Julio slides in at 24 on this list because he has quietly developed quite a body of work as an Atlanta Brave. He’s won 14 games twice and 10 games four times. He’s made at least 30 starts 6 years in a row. He’s pitched at least 175 innings 6 years in a row, including 200 innings twice (maybe that wasn’t such a good idea). He owns a 3.64 career ERA, every inning with the Braves. In his six full seasons, he’s accumulated 17.7 bWAR, just short of about 3 WAR per season. Should he continue his Braves career, he’s still in his peak at age 28.

He also did this while signing a very team-friendly contract. Over those 6 full seasons, the Braves have paid him a total of around $20M. Part of him being one of the Greatest Atlanta Braves is that his performance compared to his contract allowed the Braves to supplement the roster elsewhere. He’ll get a little bit more expensive — $11.1M in 2019 and $12M in 2020 — but he’ll still be worth it if he can avoid a decline. But as it sits, he’s on the list.

He’s also been a really good teammate. I say that because sometimes being a really good teammate has been taking the ball every 5th day, staying out of the news, staying off the disabled list, and staying off the social media sites. His teammates seem to really like him; this past year you’ve seen pictures of him with Acuna, Albies, Dansby, and Charlie out on the town.

He’ll never be Greg Maddux or even Tim Hudson, but he’s the 41st Greatest Atlanta Brave.

80 thoughts on “#26: Julio Teheran”

  1. Ha. You’ll see in the errors in my revision of the original post that I originally had him much lower.

    Avery and Teheran are really similar. Within 40 IP as a Brave, within 20 points on ERA. Avery gets the advantage on FIP. They both have similarly been fairly cheap for their careers. Perhaps I have Teheran too high, but maybe it’s that Avery is too low.

    To be fair, Teheran has out-bWAR’ed Avery pretty handedly. Obviously Avery’s early-90’s era was much more pitching conducive.

  2. Hap and Donny,

    I’m really having an off-day here. I’ve somehow turned the entire site into italics even though I can’t see a missed tag in the post. And the post itself’s content is not displaying here accurately. You’ll see in the post in the back-end that the link to the the 44 Greatest Braves appears to have accurate HTML.

    Can you help?

  3. What I’m about to write is purely emotional conjecture. It will be interesting to see what the Braves do now that it’s clear that none of the Mets, Phillies, or Nationals are tearing down their teams. In fact, those three are poised to spend amounts unimaginable to the Braves’ front office. The Nationals who were said to be cash-strapped down the stretch last offseason? Yeah, those guys could conceivably have a payroll over $200 million.

    Is that going to be about $60 million more than the Braves can spend? I won’t be surprised if it’s just over $70 million more than we will spend going into opening day. This team has far bigger problems if there’s even such a thing as “arbitration hell” in store for it in a few years. This kind of penny and nickel spending won’t cut it.

  4. Seems like the moves in the “if they’re serious about winning” scenarios right now are to trade for Grienke who can be had for not a lot if they’re willing to take the salary and then sign an outfielder, we’ll say Brantley. I have high hopes I won’t be let down this time.

  5. Rob, I agree that Julio belongs in the top 44. There are quite a few players there that provided solid reliable performance over time but were not the key players that took us over the top. I hope I have never said that Julio was a “bad” pitcher. The team needs to get incrementally better and we need someone who can show improved performance. At this point I think the best thing for the Braves is to get what value they can for him to be able to upgrade the team (either true value or using his contract to offset someone else’s contract).

    Julio also has had the misfortune to be the best pitcher on a few really bad teams and that puts him head and shoulders above a great many Braves pitchers from the 70s and 80s.

  6. No idea what they’re here for, but a buddy in the hospitality sector relays to me that a large contingent of execs and prospects from the Blue Jays organization are in town today.

    Might be nothing. Might be “you fly to Vegas from Toronto via ATL.” Worth watching though.

  7. I think Julio is actually pretty well placed. He’s not totally over-rated like a certain AL West shortstop.

  8. 2 seasons of Edgar Renteria are better than 4 seasons of Andrelton Simmons? Simmons had the highest bWAR on that 2013 team that won the NL East. Renteria played for some very mediocre Braves teams, but I agree he is, in my opinion, the better SS of the two. WAR is not the end all be all, and Simmons has already amassed a greater career bWAR than Renteria, but Edgar did a lot with his bat and in the postseason that I feel gives him the nod.

    Pendleton, on the other hand, was league MVP for the ’91 Braves. His contribution should not be undervalued.

  9. Just depends on how much you like defense, I reckon. Even B-Ref and Fangraphs are pretty far off on how to evaluate Andrelton’s defense. The man keeps a lot of runners from crossing home plate, and in this game, you want to score more runs yourself than the other team scores.

  10. Generally, I am opposed to the equivalency being drawn here, by which “greatness” becomes identical to “accumulated more WAR.” You can accumulate all the WAR you want, but if your teams never win, you weren’t all that great.

  11. So Sam,

    So, Hank Aaron drops to 35?

    Joe Torre drops out?

    Phil Niekro goes to 30 (at least he made the postseason 2 times, unlike Aaron’s 1 and Torre’s 0)

    Bob Watson goes to 5 (2 years as a right handed platoon 1B in playoffs once and second place once)?

    Marquis Grissom to number 1 (one World Series win, one World Series loss)?

    Each player should be judged as a player. If you were a player for a penny pinching owner or an idiot GM, that is not your fault. Yes, just blindly following WAR is not a perfect measure. But ignoring in favor of team result is worse than your usual irrational hyperbole.

  12. The Carter Stewart/9th draft pick grievance has not yet been settled, though it may this week, and the 2019 9th pick is not yet firmly belonging to the Braves.

  13. I looked a lot at three things: WAR as a Brave (especially as you consider some of the guys whose performance is not evident from their triple slash), salary (to determine some value looks), and their standing as a leader/likeability/etc. and any big moments as a Brave.

    Braves WAR should count for something like 75% of this ranking. Many of these guys didn’t have much input on their pay level, so I say 10%. Personality/character is another 10%. Big moments is 5%.

  14. While I didn’t quantify it, I would agree that’s about how the weights added up.

    You’re trying to compare Andrelton Simmons to Steve Avery, Dusty Baker to Eric O’Flaherty, and Chipper Jones to David Justice. So if there’s a better stat than looking at both bWAR and fWAR as a guide, then let me know. But even taking triple slashes or ERA doesn’t adjust for era, so that can be misleading.

    Some guys are going to mean more than their stats, the Lemmer included. But let’s be honest; has anyone meant more to the Atlanta Braves, save the Hammer himself, than Mallex Smith and Sean Rodriguez? No, absolutely not. But sometimes you just have to put your opinions aside and rank the 44 best Atlanta Braves. /sarcasm

  15. No official announcement yet, I don’t believe, but the Braves have hired former Phillies pitching coach Rick Kranitz as pitching coach. It may seem odd that we hired a pitching coach that was just fired after one season by our intra-division rivals, but it’s important to note that it seems that Kranitz was fired because assistant coach Chris Young was drawing interest from other clubs, and the Phillies didn’t want to lose him. So I don’t think he was hired for performance in the strictest sense, and according to articles from local northeast publications, Kranitz seems to have been fairly popular with the pitching staff and is credited with Nola’s step forward.

    And of course, pitching coach’s don’t really matter a whole lot unless your entire staff is walking the stadium. It’s a low bar, it seems.

    EDIT: I guess this is almost official:

    https://www.mlb.com/braves/news/rick-kranitz-set-to-be-braves-pitching-coach/c-301428286

  16. Atlanta United’s Josef Martinez walks away with the MLS MVP Award for 2018. Which is odd, as he’s not even the MVP of his own team. But soccer voters count goals the way baseball voters count homeruns.

  17. Goldy to the Cardinals for Luke Weaver, Carson Kelly, a 24-year old at AA, and a sandwich pick. That’s a decent haul, but clearly the D-Backs are rebuilding. Greinke and $20M for Izzy Wilson would do just fine, I’d say.

  18. @ 18

    ‘Irrational hyperbole’
    sees logic hit its apogee
    tho’ fun is at its height
    when neither one is right.

  19. @2 But I would argue that Avery’s work was more important than Julio’s, and you have not given Avery’s credit for his post-season work. There is no way I would put Julio ahead of Avery. Some of Julio’s work was done during our time of irrelevance.

    Nevertheless, I do agree it’s hard to compare players from different era but this one stands out to me a little bit.

    But one thing I am still not clear is…are you putting him 41st or 24th? I am fine if you put him at 41st.

  20. @22 The positive is that Kranitz knows the Phillies pitchers very well.

    @24 Finally a trade not involving NL East but I hate the Cards. I like seeing them to suffer like last season.

  21. @24 There is no way that’s going to happen. If the Braves were going to spend $75M over three years, there are better ways to do it. Not to mention that AA won’t want an aging Greinke for three years. I sure wouldn’t want any part of that contract unless I got Peralta and Bradley to go with it and even then it would likely require $40-50M to even get the Braves interested regardless of what the Braves might include back (maybe $30M if they take Teheran and O’Day as part of the return).

    Take a look at Bowman’s latest:

    https://www.mlb.com/braves/news/braves-inbox-addresses-nl-east-moves/c-301505402

    He basically shoots down every possible option for a TOR pitcher and big time OF. Haniger not possible. Need to wait a year for Bauer. No Keuchel, Morton, or Happ. Thor not available in division. Greinke talks = fake news. Realmuto not available in division (and I would not want to trade Soroka and Riley for him). No Stroman. No Gray. No Fullmer. No Marwin. No Ottovino. Not going six years for Kimbrel.

    Who the hell else is there that might make sense????

    I’d love to see the Braves go after Zach Britton with a two year contract. Or maybe a one year make-good for Herrera. If AA wants to deal with the Blue Jays, maybe we could get Ken Giles (but they don’t have any interesting hitters). Seems like closer might be something that can reasonably be taken care of. Maybe we could get Estrada for a year or two with a make-good contract. Cutch seems like the best option for an OF. I’d still like to get Dietrich for the bench.

    And then there’s Markakis.

    If we sign some cheap FAs, we may not deal anyone…. Problem with that is someone will have to be dropped from the 40-man.

    All the trade possibilities seem to be dead. Does anyone else have any ideas of someone we might trade for – not including any of the above mentioned folks????

  22. Consider how the market is going, Sonny Gray intrigues me with his age and contact. Get him out of NY and he should be good again and it’s only an one-year commitment. I didn’t realize he had such difficulties in NY.

    With an one-year contract, Gray should probably cost less prospect capital than any other trade options available.

    The closer role is easy, there are plenty of options out there. We don’t need to take the trade route for that.

  23. Kc, he’s 24. In the original write-up, I had him 41, but then I forgot to change it before the post went up.

  24. @29

    Sonny Gray…so obvious when you really get into his home/road splits. So he was psyched by the Bronx. Fine, let’s take advantage of that.

  25. Sonny Gray
    home and away
    there was a distinction
    boo bird alert now set for extinction.

    Who was the genius, really, who put together the package for Oakland’s new Park? the illustrations are blowing people away.

    Ironic for Sonny he is unlikely to ever play there having had to put up with the Almeda County hodge podge and then Yankee Stadium. The former was so awful you came to think of it as funny till, years later, you got rather fond of the old lady. Just like your ex really.

    Here’s a way to tell if you are really getting old assuming you’re a lifelong sports fan. When you first hear of something like this new Park which turns you on and they give a proposed completion date for the opening game you cannot stop an automatic reflex – will I still be around to see it? Or the next Olympics? Next summer’s Tour de France? etc…etc…You start working out what age you will be by that time and sooner or later Vegas type odds as to your chances. Maddening. Unstoppable.

    So if you guys think you’re passionate about whether AA should or should not make the big trade spare a thought for some of us who are looking at it from a different angle. That slugger we’re getting to drive us into the post season – how old is he again? Those legs, will they hold up long enough to get us there? Soon.

    You’ve never had to think like that, have you? You will.

  26. So DOB apparently posed this question to the Braves brass recently regarding whether there’s any clause preventing Liberty Media from infusing cash into the Braves. The answer, surprisingly I guess, is of course not. Liberty Media owns the Braves and can do whatever they want with the Braves’ budget.

    Suddenly, I question how much autonomy the Braves actually have with their own revenue => budget.

    Of course, DOB is wrong a lot. I just don’t want our budget to be self-inflicted.

  27. Zips projections for 2019 Braves are up at Fangraphs.

    Short version is Czymborski estimates starting and reliever WAR of 41.9. Adding Camargo for projected missed games for Donaldson adds about 1 and another .2 for missed games by Swanson and Albies, combined.

    That is with Adam Duvall as starting leftfielder at .8.

    The most likely under performance looks like Albies at 4.1. Most likely over performance looks like Acuna at 4.4.

    One interesting takeaway was that Czym estimated that if you lined up the potential starters in the system, the number 11 through 15 would be on a rate basis barely below league average.

  28. I make this point in a post going up tomorrow, but remember too that every team has a “6th” starter, 2-3 pitchers who will make upwards of double digit starts for a variety of reasons — rain out, injury, double-header, etc. Few rotations can touch us in that department too.

  29. @36

    He essentially said no to every good player out there.

    He made it sound like the Braves had 35 cents left and may save it for the next time they go to the mall.

    I think we were mislead on the whole “We have money to spend and can shop on any isle”

    There is a term for it. It’s call Bull SH#T

  30. As always, whether or not you take Peanut at face value is on you. A couple months ago, AA said he was satisfied at 3B.

    The article doesn’t mention David Peralta at all. I could be persuaded to buy low on Robbie Ray. It also says the Blue Jays don’t want to trade us Stroman. The Mariners don’t want to deal Haniger. Not much we can do about that.

  31. I’m not super into Taijuan Walker, but if we traded for him, I could talk myself into believing we see room for improvement.

  32. I take Peanut at less than face value, even if he is faithfully transcribing what AA is telling him. AA hold his cards and intentions close, even more than most GMs, it seems. I’ll be surprised if he does *not* make a deal before spring training for a front line starter (i.e., someone at least as good as or better than Folty) or a corner outfielder (who is better than Neck) or both.

  33. I wonder what the real driver is behind the Braves presumably only doing 1-2 year contract commitments this offseason… are they being shopped?

  34. Rob, a belated thanks for your update of the 44 Greatest. And it would be small of me to quibble, given your great work on this and everything else BJ related, but…
    I like Julio more than most here do, and he belongs on the list. But you can’t put Julio ahead of Avery. Avery was dominant until his shoulder gave out, and his postseason success and role on the early 90’s turnaround has got to count for more than Julio’s middling work these past 6-7 years. Avery gave every indication that he would be the equal of Glavine and Smoltz, until his injuries.

    Alas, because of injury, he did have a very short period of stardom. But those early 90’s seasons were magical, and his role tends to get overlooked..

  35. Walker is a higher variance Teheran. His good years are better than Julio’s best. His down years are worse than Julio’s worst. In aggregate, by career ERA+ and FIP, they’re essentially the same pitcher. But in reality, a good year from Walker is 10-15 points of ERA+ better than Teheran’s best. And truth be told, his only “very bad year” was his sophomore season, as a 22 year old. He’s been between 95 and 145 ERA+ since then.

    He was hurt last year? He only started 3 games.

  36. @47: The real driver, IMO, is that contracts longer than 1-2 years don’t make any sense for post-arb age players. For every Markakis, a guy who was worth about what you paid him, there are three Kemp/Melvin/Hrabosky deals. Good long term deals are all signed with young players (Freeman, McCann) who are sharing risks with the guys that brought ’em to the dance. The five year Maddux extension at age 32 is just about the only exception I can think of. I don’t even think Chipper’s last deal was any real bargain.

  37. Tim Hudson also gave us a beautiful hometown discount extension, but generally speaking this is true, though I’m contractually obligated to point out that Alex Rodriguez was worth literally every penny of his 10-year, $250 million contract, even if the moronic Texas Rangers owner who handed it out didn’t feel like paying it all.

  38. ARod’s Texas deal was signed when he was 26, though it was indeed post-arb, and turned out only to be a 8 year contract because it was such a good deal to the team that then owned him, the Yankees. This is yet another problem of long term contracts — even if the player doesn’t have a literal opt-out, as ARod did, they have a practical opt out by playing indifferently for a year or two if the contract turns out to be too lucrative for the team. The second 10 year contract he signed in 2008 was emblematic of the long term deal to an ungracefully aging player. (I’ll give you the Hudson deal.)

  39. So, all-world, HOF talent shortstops who are only 25 when they hit free agency, and pitchers in the top 5 performer of all time categories. Those guys, and kids you’re buying out arb years for. That about right?

  40. And I forgot that, despite your assessment of this contract’s value, Texas ate $67 million of it after trading ARod to the Yankees.

    Exactly, Sam. Those are the exceptions. And for every one of those, there are a bunch of Chris Davis: 7 years, $161MM, signed when he was 30.

  41. @53 I wouldn’t worry about it because I bet anyone we trade for has the potential upside of being an ace. See also: Kevin Gausman.

  42. Gray might be OK if you get Gray and Frazier. I still think the best deal out there will be for Greinke with Peralta and Bradley. If we can include Teheran and O’Day to offset cost in any package (+ whatever prospects it takes) we negotiate then it’s got lots of possibilities. The hitch is that Greinke has three years….. To get Peralta and Bradley that seems a reasonable risk. We just paid for a year of Gonzalez and Kazmir where we received 100% nothing – one crap year of Greinke (if it should happen) should not put that big a crimp in our style.

  43. One man’s insanity is another man’s assessment of the market. Cassing J. and Douglas R.W. (1980), Implications of the Auction Mechanism in Baseball’s Free Agent Draft,
    Southern Economic Journal, 47, 110-21. (Available on request.)

  44. @62–Avery is too low. But actually that is on Mac, not you, Rob. 34 is where Mac had Avery. I went back and read Mac’s original post on Avery when he first did the top 44, and Mac admitted that he might have him too low. The comments to that post sum up my feelings as to why Avery should be higher.
    I have no problem with Julio somewhere in the 20s. He’s a lot better than Rick Camp, or any other pitcher pre 90s other than Knucksie.

  45. Then Steve Avery will be disrespected no more! The people have spoken, and Steve Avery will henceforth be slotted between #21 Kevin Millwood and #23 Craig Kimbrel. I do agree that Avery’s postseason’s success pushes him ahead of Teheran and others.

    And in so doing, I realized that I, just like Mac before me, over-numbered the list, resulting in too many. But while Mac only had to sacrifice Pat Jarvis — yes, the Pat Jarvis — I am forced to remove Jonny Venters. I am not happy about this.

    Folty may be as little as one year away from cracking this list.

  46. I didn’t hold EOF’s latter stint with Atlanta against him when Atlanta, one of the worst teams in baseball, employed EOF when he was clearly done. I can’t hold that against EOF. Otherwise, EOF’s tenure as a member of O’Ventbrel saw him pitch more innings with a lower ERA and FIP than Venters. It does make me sad that Venters is now just off the list. But EOF is only 40 anyway, so he’s not that far ahead of Venters.

    If Venters has a healthy season this year, he’s on the list at the expense of one of Chambliss.

    Man, this is hard business.

  47. By the way, for similar reasons, you can make a pretty compelling argument for John Rocker to be on this list. His performance is quite similar to that of Venters and EOF in how long he pitched for Atlanta and how well. Plus, Rocker got the last three outs of the baseball game, so that makes him “better”. Of course, Venters and EOF are awesome dudes, and John Rocker is a bad man.

  48. Looks like Chuck Hernandez will be then Mets’ bullpen coach. That’s a demotion like ole Jimmy McElwain becoming a WR coach.

  49. Like I said, I don’t hold EOF’s second stint against him. He shouldn’t have been there, and no one gave him a job after that. It was a nostalgia move by Atlanta while they were terrible and trying to put butts in the stands, nothing more.

    EOF 2009-2013: 249.1 IP, 200 ERA+
    Venters 2010-12, 2018: 250 IP, 168 ERA+

    I was a little off in my mental math; Venters has him beat by 2/3 IP with Atlanta (I think you might have Jonny’s 34.1 IP with the Rays in there). EOF has a good pace ahead in ERA. I mean, they both should be on the list. I really should just knock Chris Chambliss and his 110 OPS+ in 3,012 PAs with Atlanta off the list. Not only will Venters be on the list with a healthy 2018, he’ll be ahead of EOF by that point.

    And bullpen roles are so 90’s, man.

  50. It’s hard to knock Chambliss off the list. He may not have been spectacular, but he was about the best Atlanta had for a few years. At least when I was a kid I thought he was great and he was one of my heroes. Looking at his numbers now, they are pretty mediocre.

  51. As for the “1 big bat” question we still need a corner outfielder. I believe Camargo can fill part of that role but I don’t see Duvall lasting the year (I think he is cooked) in any timeshare arrangement. Riley will apparently be working out in the outfield, but his future lies at 3rd and he really needs more AAA time to work on the strikeouts. Another big bat — say McCutcheon at 3/42– would be nice.

  52. The first baseball book I purchased was the 1982 Bill James Abstract where he schooled me on Chris Chambliss (who was my favorite player at the time). So long to my youthful idealism!

  53. @74, it’s not fair not to give Venters credit for his great 2018! Also he was pitching 20 innings per year more than O’Failurety; Eric was benefiting by being used more sparingly. I don’t think it’s fair to penalize Venters for being used more often in higher-leverage situations.

    The team valued him more highly and the list should too.

  54. Just make O’Ventbrel one player, move him up a couple of spots above Kimbrel, and then you free up two more spaces on the list when you remove the three of them individually.

  55. I feel like what we need is another list… The 44 Most Memorable Atlanta Braves. This gets around the problem of one player doing a few good (or even great) things when it mattered most vs. another player doing similar things when it totally was an otherwise wasted season. The current list considers both players pretty equally because the stats might be close for them. But emotionally we remember the first player because they did their thing not during a down year. So Avery slots further up because he was there during the beginning of the run and Julio slots further down (or not even on the list at all) because his really good stuff happened when it didn’t matter (sure we won a division last year but it wasn’t one of Julio’s better years so less memorable). Of course such a list is even more susceptible to opinion and thus harder to quantify but I guess that might provide more opportunity for “civil discussion” about said opinions.

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