2019 Atlanta Braves Player Review: Jacob Webb

Who is Jacob Webb?

An 18th round draft pick from tiny Tabor College in 2014, Webb is a 26 year old right handed reliever just now appearing in the bigs. He had 2 saves on days when Jackson was unavailable and posted a shiny 1.39 ERA for Atlanta in 22 innings before being shut down for arthroscopic surgery on his elbow in August. His minor league record shows a pitcher who will strike out about 10 batters per nine innings while giving up more walks and flyballs than you would like.

A Deeper Dive in the Numbers

Webb’s ERA was much better than his FIP and xFIP (which project how the average pitcher would perform with the same peripherals) by about 3 points — Yowsa! The reason for this overperformance is interesting: lefties only managed a .195 BABIP against him, while righties had a more normal .255. Regression suggests that unless he discovered something this year — and his changeup usage jumped to almost 20% vs lefties this year, so he might have — he is in for what we shall call a “Sobotka” in 2020.

What the Future Holds

Prognostication systems have a notoriously hard time predicting the futures of relievers because all except the elite tend towards very uneven performances. Both ZIPS and Steamer see Webb as a slightly below replacement option going forward. In his favor, he is already on the 40-man roster and has that nice ERA to convince the Braves braintrust that he is deserving of a bullpen spot out of spring training next season. On the other hand, history and the fungibility of righties who walk 4+ guys per nine are against. I’ll be rooting for him.

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67 thoughts on “2019 Atlanta Braves Player Review: Jacob Webb”

  1. Jacob Webb? This game 6/ game 7 morning at 8.30?

    JC’d

    @69

    Why, what’s the hurry? Judging by some excellent comments already posted here some of us actually watched Game 6 of the World Series, won in fine style by our near 20 games a year NLEast primary opponents.

    This wasn’t a run in the park. It was October baseball at its finest and, if we’re lucky, we might see a memorable Game 7 tonight. Will that also be ‘capped’ by tomorrow mid morning too? I remain at a loss to understand your priorities and obligations to this membership.

    from previous thread…

    @65…Rusty…

    what fun, great stuff. It should be forwarded to Canton!

    @ 59

    Karl…A fair start! But see me after class!

  2. Sam Holbrook
    decides to make a call on the line the runner took
    the first baseman, not inclined to stretch
    says, frankly, I’d very much prefer to kvetch.

  3. @54 previous

    Jonathan F, thank you, such a thrill to see you join the ranks of poets. Particularly since you took great pains not to precede it with a lengthy treatise, a list of cola distributors in the south east. Joke, my friend, as you well know.

  4. According to MLB after the game last night, it was less about Turner being inside the base line and more about him accidentally knocking Gurriel’s glove off as he ran by…which did happen, so it might’ve been the proper call. The issue, as usual, is that the umpiring crew threw up all over themselves and allowed that 10-minute-long half-review/half-protest when neither one was legal.

  5. @ 1, blazon,

    PLEASE stop this continuing complaint. This has been explained several times. New content goes up in the morning. I ALWAYS go back and read the end of the last thread to catch up. The comments there are not lost with the blueprints for Stonehenge. It requires almost no effort to move to a new thread.

    The intent is to create some new programming. The quality of that has been good to very good. This should not be raised as an issue. It is just not significant enough.

  6. People going crazy about the runner’s interference call last night and saying that never gets called — am I the only one who remembers this getting called on the Braves in the 2012 WC game? It got overshadowed later because of the “infield” fly call (Andrelton in both cases iirc), but I don’t remember anybody upset with the call or the rule at the time.

  7. Blazon,
    I will ask you again that if you have specific complaints, please free to email me. Your complaints are now feeling personal and, to be frank, I’m getting tired of it.

  8. @ 6,

    I did not stay up to watch it. But by the replays, if that was not interference, then the rule book means nothing.

    The runner NEVER went into foul territory. Every time his left foot came down, it was on the fair side of the line. And his feet were closer to the line than his hips and shoulders. AND, the runner also actually impacted the glove which was clearly in fair territory.

  9. Agree with Snowshine…

    Webb carried a 1.39 ERA and that’s nice and shiny, but his K-rate was below 8 and his BB-rate was above 3. Factor those things in with an elbow problem, a low BABIP, and one can see the writing on the wall.

    But I’ll be rooting for him.

  10. No World Series has ever featured road teams winning every game. I hope that doesn’t start tonight.

  11. BTW, oldest vomited all over me this AM and I have both kids at home, as both are sick. I don’t get to converse a lot in the day due to the teaching gig, but seeing I’ll be at home and parked in front of a TV while my children rest, I’ll be pretty active today! Let’s chat!

    If anyone has MiLB player questions, send them my way! I am, by no means, an expert, but I study and watch a whole lot of games and clips.

  12. OK, Ryan, I’ll bite.

    Of the ‘Second Tier’ SP prospects (IE – Those not named Anderson, Wright, Toussaint, or Wilson), who do you think has the best chance to impact the Major League roster in 2020? (Either thru forcing their way on, or being traded for a ML piece.)

  13. Joe Torre’s position (once translated into English) was amusing. It was that Holbrook made the right call, because it was a judgment call. Since judgment calls are not reviewable, all of them are correct.

    He did say that Turner’s path to first was irrelevant to the call…. that it was a pure interference call. But then it’s hard to see why the obligation is on a guy with his back turned heading to the bag he was heading for rather than the first baseman who saw him coming. Note that if the ball had hit Turner, I agree with cliff that his path would be an issue. But it didn’t… at least not until it was past Gurriel.
    MLB is insistent that the call was not reviewed.
    The delay was to have the rulebook read to Holbrook, which is hilarious.
    #Holbrook’sEccentricDecisionsAreAlwaysDefendedBecauseHeHasThePictures

  14. blazon, I actually agree with you in some senses about this subject, and Ryan and I were texting about this earlier as I had found myself commenting less because of how much content was going up. But overall, more content is a great thing.

    But seriously, for a guy that emails constantly about much less important things, do you really need to keep beating this drum? Is that the most constructive way of helping? Shoot the dude an email if it’s bothering you this much.

    Plus, you can do one of two things: be a problem, or be a solution. This isn’t some money-making venture. I’ve largely had to take a huge step back because it’s a lot of work for a “hobby”. If I don’t speak for all, I speak for the vast majority that it is greatly appreciated that Ryan is spearheading what is A LOT of coordination and a lot of time to get quality posts up in the offseason on the regular. There’s not a game every day with a much-appreciated person in their daily spot on schedule to write a quick ditty on the game.

    This is hard. Complaining is totally fine, but if you want to continue to be this critical, go somewhere else. Please. This is a labor of love, and Alex, myself, Ryan, all of us will tell you that. I read your words as someone who doesn’t want to do a single, helpful player review but wants to provide the lion’s share of complaining when something is not to your liking, and I don’t think that’s very respectful to the effort being put into this site.

  15. I think it’s hilarious that the field mics picked up Turner saying, in regards to whether the game could be played in protest, “Just ask Torre. He’s right there”. The more stuff we pick up on the field mics from players and managers, the more I love the game, and I can’t help but think that being able to pick up all this is intentional. It’s hilarious.

    Also, Sam Holbrook is going to get himself into CB Bucknor, Angel Hernandez, Joe West territory if he keeps making these BS letter-of-the-law-calls-that-have-never-been-called-before calls.

  16. @14
    I really like Tucker Davidson as a breakout candidate at the MLB level. He carried a 2.15 ERA between AA and AAA in 2019, and had a 2.5K/BB rate. Also, he and Muller are training at Driveline this offseason. He was already topping out at 98, and if he can push his average velo to 96-98 and get added break on all pitches, and keep them in the K-zone, he could really shine. In my opinion, Tucker’s emergence is the reason why AA was comfortable trading Wentz.

    He’ll also have to be added to the 40-man, so he’ll likely debut in 2020.

    Edit: As a reminder to all, Player Reviews and/or smaller pieces will be up for 24 hours. Larger pieces (such as the one yesterday), will stay up for 2 days.

  17. In fairness to Webb, Simmons has never pitched more than 50 innings in any professional season, and Webb has now done that twice in fewer professional seasons. So Webb has been less injury-prone than Simmons. Simmons would definitely be the low side risk in terms of health of any right-handed relief prospect we have.

  18. @18

    I loved Shae Simmons. He was absolutely filthy and was the highest ceiling reliever post-Kimbrel, but he just couldn’t stay healthy. I interviewed him and J.R Graham in Pensacola post-game, when I was writing over at Tomahawk Take. He had pitched that night and had his arm in a sling and I noticed HUGE circular bruises all over his right arm. That was the first time I was introduced to cupping. He and Graham were both covered in them and I felt like it was their last ditch effort to solve their arm woes that never went away.

    Both are out of baseball now.

  19. Yeah, I’m not buying the “this is never actually called” line. From a day-to-day baseball standpoint, it seems like its not called very often, but we seem to get one of these calls every other postseason. And it’s called often enough where it shouldn’t be a total mystery to anyone who watches baseball on a regular basis.

    I really do think it was the proper call. Again, he knocked Gurriel’s glove off, which completely took him out of any chance to make any kind of a play (not just to get the out, but also to hold the runners to first and second). Was it intentional? Almost certainly not. But if you run through a fielder’s glove and knock it off his hand while he’s trying to make a play, that’s pretty much the definition of interference. It doesn’t have to be intentional.

    The 10-minute delay for the replay umpire to go fetch a rulebook, find the applicable rule, and read it back to Holbrook, though, is incredibly stupid, especially since Holbrook seems to already have basically known the rule. How does it take 10 minutes for somebody who should have some idea of which rule is applicable to find said rule in a rulebook (which is assumedly right there on his desk) and read it? And they made it look very much like a review, which it apparently wasn’t, making it even more confusing. That whole thing was incredibly Keystone Cops.

    And Joe Torre remains not at all great at holding these impromptu press conferences after postseason games to talk about rulings. To Jonathan’s point @14, I don’t think he meant that judgment calls are all inherently correct…just that they’re not reviewable. But since he can’t form complete sentences when he has one of these press conferences he didn’t expect to have, it made it sound like he said all judgment calls are inherently correct.

  20. When was the last time that call had been made? If there’s some sort of recent precedent for it, then I stand corrected, but I can’t remember when it was last called like that. I do agree that it is indeed the correct call.

  21. Rob,

    Maybe it isn’t called often because most runners come close to following the rule and at least keep both feet wide of the line until they do a left foot reach to the bag? This is taught in Little League.

    If what you are saying is “how many times would a replay technically show interference but it wasn’t called,” that isn’t relevant either. This event did appear to influence the no catch at first and that meant no out and runners advancing farther.

    Whenever a catcher picks up a bunt to the left side of home plate and makes a throw to a stretching 1B or 2B at first and the out is taken, if the runner is a foot inside it is irrelevant to the outcome. As in “no harm, no foul.”

    I can remember several Braves games over the past 15 years or so where runner interference was called on a play similar to that one. Some went for Braves and some went against.

    This is kind of like Miranda stuff in the legal world. Yeah, it is a crock in a way when guilty criminals walk, but it is so damn simple to comply with in most cases. Same here. Moron runner can just follow the rule.

  22. cliff, this was well said, and right, it’s the correct call.

    But I would like to see more consistency in it being called. There’s a clear example of an uncalled rule that’s often broken that I was talking about with a friend a couple of months ago, that if this one rule was all of a sudden called, there would be a lot of backlash. I just can’t remember what it was. To a lesser extent, this is similar to calling balks on lefties that go past 45 degrees, but I don’t think people would be particularly upset about that (they have such a huge, unfair advantage).

    Football has plenty of examples of this, with holding and pass interference being the easy examples. If they started calling holding and PI every time it happened, there would be lots of backlash and the game would change significantly. It’d be worse than the way people feel about the targeting rule, IMO.

  23. Long time lurker here (I believe around 2003 was my initial hook of the lure here).

    I only wanted to post to support the new content, and repudiate Blazon’s constant attacks on it. He speaks for himself, and from what I gather the extreme minority. Honestly, it comes across as insulting when people like Ryan C, Rob, Gunner, others I’m missing are volunteering their free time. Blazon, like myself, is simply a consumer of a *free* service.

    New content > threads. All day. Appreciate all of the writers and contributions for what’s already been a great offseason. I wouldn’t come here every day to read Blazon’s poetry, but I will come here every day to read a well written piece on our strategy.

  24. @24

    It seems similar to the old NFL catch rule to me. If a player went up in the air to catch a ball, came down, took three steps while falling, and had the ball dislodged when he hit the ground, that was an incomplete pass by the rule. Most people couldn’t seem to get their head around that and would go nuts about it, even though the rule had clearly been correctly applied.

    Here, it’s a somewhat quirky rule that goes against the basic understanding of the baseball rules that most fans have, so even though it’s a proper application of the rule, it seems overly officious and unjust. (And the fact that it’s Sam Holbrook making the call is an added layer for Braves fans.)

  25. In my opinion it was the wrong call, but totally agree that the much bigger problem is that the process is broken. There never should have been a conference with NY on a nonreviewable call — it would be like putting on the headphones for five minutes after one of the terrible third strike calls the umpires keep making to punch out Victor Robles.

    I understand why you want to take discretion out of it as much as possible, and I understand the benefits of saying that judgment calls are not overturnable, because otherwise you’d just further incentivize a work-the-ref strategy that just kills game momentum.

    That said… this particular play is actually being described in contradictory ways.

    Turner was to the left of the foul line, not the right of the foul line. Like all fair/foul calls, that’s not a judgment call and should plainly be reviewable.

    The ball hit Turner; the trajectory of the ball and the actual placement of his body relative to Gurriel’s body and glove are absolutely knowable and are not judgment calls. The geometry of the game situation should be reviewable.

    The question of whether or not Turner would have impeded the fielder’s ability to catch the ball depends on a number of judgment factors — what if Turner ran to the right of the foul line? What if the throw was to the left of the bag, like it should have been? Per the baseball rulebook, that is a judgment call and should not be reviewable, though in just about all cases the crew chief probably should retain the ability to overrule.

    In my opinion, the throw was late and off target, and it hit Turner as his foot hit the bag; the call of “interference” is ridiculous and the only reason Torre is saying it was a good call is he has Holbrook’s back.

    Fundamentally, though, if MLB can’t figure out a way to get high-leverage calls right, it doesn’t matter if they have a policy that judgment calls aren’t reviewable. No one wants officiating to be the story. But it is, and they need to fix that.

  26. “The Moving Finger writes; and, having writ, Moves on: nor all thy Piety nor Wit. Shall lure it back to cancel half a Line, Nor all thy Tears wash out a Word of it.”

    Those tears, keep them under control, please.

  27. Jacob Webb
    what happened, is he dead
    to warrant such placement?
    no, just a perfect time to bring him out of the basement.

  28. Actually, having just wasted 30 minutes of my life perusing the Official Rules, this particular situation seems to fall into an odd place. If Torre is right and the call did not involve the lane, then interference with a thrown ball (as opposed to a batted ball) has to be intentional. (Otherwise, lots of throws that hit runners would be interference.) And of course it wasn’t even close to intentional — not even Sam Holbrook would call that.
    If the call does involve the lane, the Turner is allowed to be where he was when he hit Gurriel’s glove (“The batter-runner is permitted to exit the three-foot lane by means of a step, stride, reach or slide in the immediate vicinity of first base for the sole purpose of touching first base”), although he was in the wrong place before; but when he was in the wrong place, he wasn’t interfering, so that’s not a problem either. Of course he didn’t really exit the three-foot lane at all, but he was where he would be if had run correctly. Compared to the no-call on JC Martin in the 1969 series, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XpxkTbNbG-w this call was much worse.

  29. Sorry, I wrote that like I was Joe Torre. What I meant was: if the JC Martin call was correct, then this one was wrong.

  30. @ 28,

    I agree that if Torre said it had nothing to do with the lane of travel, then he was wrong. I didn’t hear that.

    And, I agree that the geometry (particularly did the player move left of the foul line) should be reviewable.

    And, I agree that if the runner is not in fair territory, then you must prove intent (like that useless first baseman Braves got from the Tigers) before calling that.

    However, I looked twice at the home plate view and Turner NEVER gets his hips or shoulders out of fair territory and when he impacts the glove, the glove is in fair territory. Also, the left foot never lands in foul territory one time. The geometry of that is he was in fair territory.

    If what you are trying to say is his foot touched before the ball got there and should be safe, but runners not advance (beyond what they would have on a fielder’s choice), then I can see how you get there. I didn’t go back to look, but when I looked I did not think the foot touched before the ball got there.

  31. I don’t like the wording of the rule in that the runner should not be required to run in a squiggly line towards first base. As long as his feet are on the foul lone or outside of it by the time he’s 2/3 of the way to the bag, that should be good enough.

  32. I agree with everything you say, cliff, except for the part that a batter-runner (as the rules call them) has to be in foul territory on the last stride. The rule says he doesn’t. And that’s the critical difference in this call… or not. (And I surely agree he had not yet reached the bag when he hit Gurriel’s glove.)

  33. @ 35,

    But the rule contemplates a return to fair territory sufficient to let the runner touch the base in that last stride. He never left fair territory. Not one step. Not anywhere. You get an excuse if to return to touch the bag, there is contact. You do not get an excuse that “because I was already within a stride by the time it mattered, then I did not interfere.”

  34. I’m not saying your interpretation of the rule is wrong. That is indeed what the rule contemplates. But it also contemplates “no interference if you are taking your last stride to the bag when the throw arrives.” You want to make the rule entirely about how you get there… my point is that it shouldn’t really matter how you got there — that the important thing for interference ought to be where you are. Martinez got thrown out last night after he was told he wasn’t allowed to protest based on his interpretation of the rule… what do you think that interpretation was? It can’t be on any factual question, only on a rules question.

  35. It’s going to be a pretty active offseason for the Braves, so I’m actually looking forward to the offseason a little.

  36. @40 Agreed. I don’t mind November or December at all on the baseball calendar because the Hot Stove’s burning. It’s when late January and February roll around, and we’re looking at a few more weeks until real baseball, and who’ll be signed to be the back up catcher in AA when it get’s a little depressing.

  37. Sam Holbrook is a terrible umpire. I’m not even rooting for the Nationals, but it’d have been a shame if they lost that game due to that call. Holbrook has an uncanny knack for getting in the way of games, though. Even after such a horrendous call, he does it again with the ejection of Martinez for venting about a call that Holbrook blew. Own your mistake, Holbrook.

    I’m also perplexed as to how Torre stays upright without a spine.

  38. @42

    I mean, I get what you’re saying, but you’ve gotta eject Martinez for as completely nuts as he was going. The umpires gave him a very, very long leash…and gave Turner a very long leash, for that matter, for sniping from the dugout during whatever that review was (if he’d done that during a regular season review, he’d have been gone so fast it would’ve made your head spin).

    I was actually impressed at how patient they were being, but there is no world in which Martinez doesn’t get tossed for that performance.

  39. Yeah, Davey wasn’t leaving the field without getting tossed. Running him off wasn’t the questionable part.

    Letting the game get completely out of hand by agreeing to review the call then claiming it wasn’t reviewable was horrendous.

    That said, I will never, ever forgive Davey for demanding that umpires review the play that broke Culberson’s face, and I hope he has trouble sleeping for a long time.

  40. Seeing Holbrook and other umpires make questionable calls in big games like this makes me want to see a player vote for umpires in the playoffs. I’d assume the players and managers know which umpires are best. Just make a system where the top 6 vote getters work the WS, the top 12 the ALCS and so on. It would be a much better system and likely help keep the games from being weighed down by calls like this.

  41. As someone who has contributed before — I must say if someone was whining about a new post going up after I spent a long time researching and composing for free, I would be pissed off.

    PS — I have a lot going on with work and have to take a class so not really available to help add content right now.

  42. The ball was so far up the 3rd base line that Turner was never going to be in the path of the throw. He could have done himself some favors by staying in foul ground, but ultimately the base is in fair territory. At the time of the collision, he was in literally the only place he could be.

    I really believe that the delay was MLB trying to figure out a way to save Holbrook from himself, before admitting there was no way out.

  43. Ryan, I appreciate what you and all the writers on here are doing. I really don’t think he means it personally although after repeated gripes it can feel that way. Not knowing him personally it’s hard to fathom his intent, as on so many things. However I think there’s ample evidence to indicate he just doesn’t think about anyone other than himself, on this blog at least.

  44. Soto’s plate antics are really annoying but apparently there’s a rule that you’re just supposed to love guys like that.

  45. I think the houston manager is worse at bullpen management than Snitker is.

    All hail the 2019 WS champs, the nats… :/

  46. I hate the Nats as much as the next guy, but their late inning comebacks when facing elimination this postseason are as impressive as any i remember.

  47. Way too quick a hook for Greinke. If I’m going down, I’m going down with him, not some anonymous reliever.

  48. And now we have 21 year old WS MVP Soto…..I think I rather quit watching baseball than be reminded of that every time he takes an AB for the next 20 years.

  49. @59yeah, I don’t deny his talent, heck, I posted here a while back that I would rather have him than Ronald (Don’t ban me, please).

    I think the braves are fortunate with that extension Ronald signed, because I doubt Soto is going to do something like that.

    Soto almost always seems to get the calls his way regarding the strike zone, which is something surprising after always hearing how young players have to suffer bad calls that veterans get.

    My issue with him winning the mvp would’ve been like mentioned @57; just the annoyance of having to hear it until I’m on my deathbed. ( Or Chip is on his).

  50. How can the baseball god be doing this to the Braves fans. I will be in depressed mode in the coming months….

  51. While I hate the gnats, I loathe everything about the dubebro culture in Houston. Then I keep telling myself, “At least it’s not the Yankees,” and everything gets better.

  52. I do find it curious that Soto’s exuberance really overshadows Acuna’s, yet it’s Ronald who gets beaned all the time.

  53. I get a strong satisfaction knowing Bryce Harper was at home on his couch watching the team that drafted him and offered him an obscene amount of money to stay just won the WS without him, the very next year. Screw that guy. And good on the Nats for investing in their team with the goal of actually WINNING rather than maximizing profits. A lot of mid-atlantic Braves fans are going to stop caring about Atlanta and rooting for DC instead.

  54. I didn’t catch it until this morning, but did anyone else see how fast Cole distanced himself from the Astros? I mean, man, he was out of there as if he stole something. Lol. The fact that he did his post game presser in a Boras corp hat would seem to me to mean he’s surely leaving Houston, and it isn’t going to be on a discount.

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