At the conclusion of WWII my mother and a couple friends decided to see the world and head west, ultimately ending up in Los Angeles. My mom’s best friend Velva got hired on by RKO Pictures as a stage dresser – the people who make sure the props are in the right place before shooting. Her first film was Notorious, starring among others, Claude Rains. She adored him, saying he was the only gentleman in the cast (apparently Cary Grant had a hands problem with the lady folk. Who knew?) She kept a large signed photograph on her mantle for the remainder of her days, thus explaining how I knew who the hey he was when the subject came up earlier this season.
*Those not in the know, according to the Braves Journal Glossary, “Claude” is nickname for Camargo.
A Tale of Expectations
The reason, of course, was that following his successful 2018 season, most of us were counting on “Claude” to be, if not a full time starter, than at least a 4-game-a-week super utility guy seeing regular starts at 2nd, 3rd, short, and perhaps the outfield. Little did we suspect a lost season awaited.
There were troubling signs going in: AA signed Josh Donaldson to play 3rd, thereby cutting off what seemed the easiest route to playing time. Additionally, while the traditional metrics of Camargo’s 2018 work were splendid, advanced statistical scrutiny revealed that the production owed a good deal to luck and sample size and did not predict success going forward. My own opinion is that the front office signed Donaldson because of these concerns.
Laying them out
Claude had a fine .346wOBA in 2018 despite hitting balls that “deserved” only a .306. In essence, he got lucky on some home run balls and got a ton of infield hits for a guy who can’t run.
He also hit way too many ground balls — 45% of his at-bats. This is what really killed his 2019 season as Johan managed a pitiful 0.145 batting average on them this season.
For a couple of months Camargo’s swing seemed completely out of sorts as he just kind of chopped at the ball as if swinging in a phone booth. Then he mercifully hurt himself and got to rehab in the minors where I don’t want to read too much into his production as it was derived from a .591 batting average on balls in play. On his return to Atlanta, however, the swing did look much better until he fouled a ball off his shin resulting in a fracture to end his season. We missed him vs. the devil magicians.
Looking to the Future
Looking forward, Claude is precisely the type of guy most helped by the flyball revolution and he still has 4 years of team control and 1 minor league option. A winter working on his launch angle would do wonders for his career going forward.
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