10 for 10’s – 2016 Atlanta Braves Choked on a Chicken Bone

That’s it. That’s the recap. jk.

The 2016 Atlanta Braves were bad y’all. Bad. But let’s recap. At a pivotal point in the rebuild a few trades were made that signaled the seriousness of our efforts to suck in order to not suck. In the previous year the Kimbrel trade brought us, well not a ton, and the Heyward trade brought us Shelby Miller, but now was the time to go full on, head-first into the twilight zone of Tanksville (a slightly less awkward version of Fansville, I hope.). Andrelton Simmons was sacrificed for a lottery ticket on a lefty and fans are (still) left hoping it was worth it, no pressure Sean. Justin Upton would be sent to San Diego for what would become the most beautiful head of hair east of the Mississippi (Max Fried). Dave Stewart was robbed at lunch, twice apparently.

2016 Atlanta Braves, The Good – The Prospects

Braves Top Prospects (according to Baseballpropectus.com)

1. SS Dansby Swanson (THE “LUNCH” TRADE)

2. LHP Sean Newcomb (THE “THIS BETTER BE WORTH IT” TRADE)

3. SS Ozzie Albies (INTERNATIONAL FREE AGENT)

4. RHP Aaron Blair (THE “LUNCH TRADE”)

5. LHP Kolby Allard (DRAFT – hey…we got one!)

6. RHP Touki Toussaint (THE ARIZONA PURCHASE)

7. RHP Mike Soroka (DRAFT)

8. 3B Austin Riley (DRAFT – SLOT FROM Craig Kimbrel trade)

9. LHP Max Fried (UPTON TRADE)

10. RHP Lucas Sims (DRAFT/OLD GUARD)

Ahhh that’s better. After churning out several mediocre drafts of “safe” picks with no upside, its finally nice to see a list with some potential. Modern readers will recognize a few difference makers making their way into the system and up the rankings. The rebuild is starting to take shape as the Braves make it to top 3 of every prospect ranking. Not listed here, but we should also include, John Gant, Mallex Smith, and Johan Comargo as honorable mentions that had been added or climbed that year. Oh, and some kid named Ronald Acuña Jr was starting to figure out Rome.

2016 Atlanta Braves, The Bad – The Roster

Most Games by Position (Games Started)

C             Tyler Flowers (81) – began to show promise as a framer and provided more offense than expected. Not a star by any means but carved out a larger role that would stick over the next few seasons. (0.3)

1B           Freddie Freeman (158) – Patron Saint of Atlanta, long sufferer in Chief. First of his name, most loyal of all Braves, he who has earned our respect for competing every day in middle of THIS lineup, without complaining, all while posting career-best numbers in almost every category with an OPS+ of 157. (6.5war…feels light, no?)

2B           Jace Peterson (87) – With a 0.5war season and a wRC+ of 94, he was the definition of a league average player, which is way better than I remember him. (0.5war)

3B           Adonis Garcia (123) – The Greek God of Dingers. Folk hero. Entirely disappointing, yet emblematic of the status of the rebuild. (0.3war)

SS           Erick Aybar (93) – With some hope that a professional ball player would arrive from the “THIS BETTER BE WORTH IT/Andrelton Simmons trade” to provide useful innings at shortstop, Aybar forgot which end of the bat to hold. After a decade of productive play in Anaheim, he literally (and figuratively) choked on a chicken bone, and never played meaningful baseball again. (-74.0war)

LF            Matt Kemp (54) – Not the Matt Kemp of old, but acquiring Kemp meant dumping Hector Olivera. I would give you hyperbole to insult Olivera, but he’s not worth the effort. Anything, including the Ghost of Matt Kemp’s Past, was an upgrade. (0.0war with ATL)

CF           Ender Inciarte (120) – Acquired in the “LUNCH TRADE” that has been credited with kickstarting the Braves rebound from the rebuild. He provided Gold Glove defense in a premium position, and a serviceable bat with an OPS+ of 98, not bad for a glove first, speed guy. (3.8war)

RF           Nick Markakis (150) – Out of Yo…shut up. So consistent, he’s often forgotten or maligned. While he isn’t the legend some want to pump, I won’t tolerate egregious “Neck” slander either. His power slowly returned as he posted 13 HRs and slugged around .400. Steady as she goes. (1.7war)

SP           Julio Teheran – at the age of 25, Teheran made his 9th opening day start of what would be 26 consecutive…I think that’s right. Feels that way, anyway. I bet you forgot he posted a 3.21 ERA with an ERA+ of 129 and FIP of 3.69 (nice). 4.8 bWar seasons don’t grow on trees.

SP           Aaron Blair – Not great Bob. With an ERA of almost 8.00, this part of the LUNCH TRADE wasn’t working out. Some promised remained until an injury left him out in the cold. (-∞war)

SP           Matt Wisler – Posting a forgivable 5.00 ERA season, with better peripherals, Wisler showed both promise and youth. With rough stretches and brilliance mixed in, his 26 starts were an adventure. With a 93-loss team, you look for the little things to entertain you. (0.5war)

SP           Mike Foltynewicz – de fruite de Oso. I’m probably mixing languages but, eh. Similar to Wisler, this young fireballer acquired in the Gattis trade had a Jekyll and Hyde season, but with more star potential sprinkled in. The 2016 season rotation would be a revolving door of youngsters and vets earning a trade launch, but Folty showed why he deserved a shot to stay. (1.5war)

Bullpen – Nope, not gonna put you through that or myself. It was bad, forgettable, and too many nobodies to worry about.

2016 Atlanta Braves: The Ugly – The Total Product

2016 was abysmal, but it wasn’t without all hope. Looking back, we see many things taking shape. Fredi Gonzalez gets the boot mid-season via Delta email confirmation, signalling the official resignation of the present for the future, as well as a new, passive aggressive, urban gunslinger GM.

New manager Brian Snitker infused some hope into the boys and we saw a few weeks of decent baseball before the inevitable set in. Young players proved who they were, for better or worse. Veterans established trade value and were shipped off for parts. Hometown heroes solidified eternal respect for their professional consistency amidst the vast wasteland of also-rans. Many names came and went. Fans grasped at straws, clinging to any positive we could find. Cult heroes were born. We cut the wrong guy a time or two (ahem, Willians Astudillo..cough, cough). All in all, it was an oppressively bad season, sandwiched between only slightly less-nauseating seasons, but it was also the bottom of the well in which the future would be born. Many people turned off their TV’s, for no fun was to be had, but something was brewing. Twitter was a dark place, but it forged a brand of trolls that would lead us to become the greatest internet fanbase in sports. Operation Coppolella was in full swing, and hope springs eternal. Little did we know, Coppy would be part of the ugly…To be continued.

Thanks for reading the 10 for 10’s on the 2016 Atlanta Braves season, if you enjoyed this piece, check out all the pieces here.

All stats above derived from baseball-reference.com. 

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33 thoughts on “10 for 10’s – 2016 Atlanta Braves Choked on a Chicken Bone”

  1. “The Arizona Purchase” and the “Lunch Trade” were almost as good as the Olivera trade was bad. Can Stewart be given the Houston job so we can make more trades with him?

    Thanks for these write ups everyone and welcome Joshua.

  2. Hey Joshua. Welcome.

    The 2016 season started out so bad that it was the first time I could remember just being kinda fed up with the team. I didn’t think they needed to tank the roster to that extent, and so starting out 9-28 and firing Fredi seemed like, at the time, a CYA move by the front office. But then, hey, they got better.

    Looking back, for it to be a “rebuilding year”, we got so little from players who would eventually be with us once we started winning.

  3. Rob, for sure the names are somewhat surprising here. Looking back, you’d think they would have won a few more games, but so many of these guys were young and inconsistent. Freddie had a career year, but that was the extend of the highlights.

  4. Dusty, I wish we would have made more trades like the “Arizona Purchase” because the payroll surely could have absorbed it. Even if Touki never fully realizes his potential, the trade was a landslide 10/10 – would trade again, based solely on potential value.

  5. A quick HOF recap as the official announcement for who gets in this year is scheduled for 6PM tomorrow.

    From Ryan Thibadoux’s tracker found here:

    https://onedrive.live.com/view.aspx?resid=F2E5D8FC5199DFAF!17003&ithint=file,xlsx&authkey=!ALD8BEbKmTajwcI

    and data through 191 revealed votes (roughly 46% of estimated total ballots)

    1) Jeter – 100% (1st year on ballot) – Looks like Jeter will go in unanimously and there have even been a few (Shaugnessy included) Jeter only ballots

    2) Walker – 85.3% (10th and final year) +32 from same voters last year (54.6% last year) – The only real drama will be to see if Larry Walker will make it. He needed to convert about 87 nos to yesses this year (45% flip rate) and is ever so slightly ahead of that pace this year 55.2% flip rate so far. Several of the more accurate prognosticators have Walker falling painfully short (1-2%) mostly because the private ballots tend to be more stingy. I will say that Walker does have the advantage already of what I call invisible flips as 7 of 7 new voters voted for him and 8 of 11 people known to not be voting this year did not vote for him. I think he barely makes it at 76%.

    3) Schilling – 79.6% (8th yr) +10 (60.9% last year) – While Schilling started out closer than Walker, he has converted voters at a much lower rate than Walker meaning he should end up shy this year. I’d say somewhere in the neighborhood of 67% is where he winds up, putting him in good position to go in, probably next year as he should be the highest returning candidate and the strongest new candidates on next year’s ballot may not even garner the 5% necessary to stay on the ballot (Hudson, Buerhrle and Hunter).

    4) Bonds – 72.8% (8th) +3 (59.1% last year) – Bonds and Clemens just aren’t gaining any traction. There just aren’t any people who are changing their minds about these two. They are making small gains, mostly from voter turnover so I will suspect that they both wind up in the vicinity of 62%, but even that may be too high a prediction. They just don’t have the time at this pace to make it and will probably fall off in a couple of years, maybe making it to 65-70%.

    5) Clemens – 71.7% (8th) +2 (59.5% last year) – See Bonds though why any voters could vote for one and not the other is beyond me.

    6t) Rolen – 49.2% (3rd) +47 (17.2% last year) – Here is where it starts to get fun as now that some of the glut of obvious hall of famers have finally been elected in the past few years, voters now have room on their ballots for players who they deemed HOF worthy, but were limited by the arbitrary 10 vote limit. Rolen has been the biggest beneficiary of this appears to now be on a trajectory towards being a viable candidate. The private vote will water down his percentage somewhat but even a jump to 38-40% would be tremendous from 17% last year. I’ll say he settles at 40%

    6t) Vizquel – 49.2% (3rd) +21 (42.8%) – I’m going to go out on a limb and say that while the trends look good for Vizquel, he will never make it to 75% (but I’m sure he will get voted in by a veteran’s committee someday). While Omar has his fans among the BBWAA, as the older voters lose eligibility and the new voters come in, the analytic community may actually wind up driving his total down in a few years. By WAR7 (best 7 WAR seasons) Omar ranks 22nd on this year’s ballot behind Brian Roberts, Eric Chavez and Rafael Furcal. He had longevity and hits and a remarkable lack of errors, but many voters are smarter than just looking at those things. How someone could vote for Omar (based on defense presumably) and not Andruw or Rolen (who showed more value with the glove and with the bat) is beyond me.

    To be continued…..

  6. Not to bring politics into the discussion, but I think the voter fascination with Vizquel is a lot like some of the ¨owning the libs¨ positions in the blogosphere: the portion of the HOF electorate that really hated ¨Moneyball¨ is going to support their guy because they actually watch baseball games as opposed to whatever-the-hell they think the rest of us do.

  7. Continued HOF post:

    Prediction on Vizquel – 48%

    8) Sheffield – 37.2% (6th) +42 (13.6% last year) – Another big beneficiary of the less crowded ballot has been Sheffield, who has recorded the second most flipped votes (42) to Rolen. The surge may be coming a little too late to get Sheffield over the hump as he only has 4 years after this one, but even some of the analytics people seem to be agreeing that the numbers are penalizing him a little too much for poor defense, which could bode well. DOB for one is withholding his vote due to PED admittance so he may have to bump up against that ceiling as well. I’ll say 31% this year.

    9) Wagner – 35.1% (5th) +34 (16.7% last year) – Wagner is really starting to gain some traction as the best reliever on the ballot. The fact that he was better than Lee Smith, Hoffman and Sutter adds to his appeal as well if you think relievers pitch enough to Hall-worthy. I’ll guess 33%.

    10) Helton – 33.5% (2nd) +30 (16.5% last year) – Helton making great strides in his 2nd year and the fact that he has so much time left on the ballot should bode well. If Walker goes in, I think it helps remove the Colorado stigma as well. I’ll say 30% this year.

    11t) Manny – 32.5% (4th) +11 (22.8%) – With the 2 PED suspensions, it’s hard to believe he will ever get there, solid but not spectacular gains this year, maybe 31%.

    11t) Kent – 32.5% (7th) +29 (18.1%) – Running out of time though a couple of more years like this should put him front and center for any veteran’s committees. I’ll guess 33%.

    13) Andruw – 25.1% (3rd) +27 (7.5%) – This is the really encouraging one for me. From 2 years of nervously hoping Andruw would stay on the ballot to some actual momentum towards election (far fetched as if may be). I will admit to being troubled by Rosenthal and Stark both opting for Omar over Andruw for their final spot and Posnanski going with Sosa over Andruw, but I also think the narrative is changing somewhat and after Rolen, I’m hoping Andruw can be the next stat-geek cause. How’s this one, by WAR7 Andruw is 4th on this ballot, behind only Bonds, Clemens and Schilling. I’ll say he gets 23%

    14) Sosa -16.8% (8th) +9 (8.5%) – not much to say. Will probably never crack 20%. I’ll say 15% this year.

    15) Pettite – 10.5% (2nd) +7 (9.9%) – I assume it’s postseason performance keeping him on the ballot. And the lack of other pitchers on the ballot maybe. Might see a bump if Schlling ever goes in. 12% or so this year.

    16) Abreu – 6.3% (1st) – I suppose there is more drama this year, just to see if Abreu can stay on the ballot. It’s probably a toss up. His case is helped by OBP which is prob not a factor for many private voters so you could see him falling just short. I’ll say he holds at 6%.

    Note – While writing this 6 new ballots have been added, but I didn’t update any numbers. Gammons was in this last batch and he actually took away a vote from Walker whom he had voted for last year. That one could hurt…

  8. Rob, I think the field was so stacked there for a decade that a return to normalcy seems weak by comparison.

  9. 8 and 11 –

    For me there are 11 Hall of famers and maybe 5 more you could argue about

    Yesses
    Bonds
    Clemens
    Walker
    Schilling
    Jeter
    Andruw
    Rolen
    Manny
    Helton
    Wagner
    Sheffield

    On the fence
    Sosa
    Kent
    Abreu

    No for me but an argument I guess
    Vizquel
    Pettite

    Now next year, take out Jeter, Walker and maybe Abreu and add Tim Hudson, Buehrle and Torii Hunter, gets even thinner.

  10. 2022 Adds ARod and Ortiz and is the last year for Clemens, Bonds, Sosa and Schilling (though I think he gets in in 2021). God help us all for that one.

  11. 2023 is pretty much Beltran and 2024 is Beltre and Utley and Mauer.

    Kind of striking the lack of pitching options. Hudson and Buehrle are by far the best two coming in the next years and they may not get 5%, though maybe they should.

  12. @ Joshua, nice piece. Welcome to the gang.

    I don’t recall 2016 quite as pessimistically. I actually think the bullpen was better than the rotation which is where the real dumpster fire was. The last half of the season, when Kemp came in to protect Freddie in the lineup, was pretty fun to watch. We had great thoughts of Dansby, Mallex, and Mauricio Cabrera being the wave of stud players that would come on strong. Dansby’s best hitting performance.

    The bullpen had a last gasp performance from Jim Johnson (who the Braves never should have signed after his woeful Dodgers performance), the one good year Ian Krol ever had, the beginnings of Bud Norris’ conversion to closer material, and the eye-opening performance by Mauricio (kinda like a preview of Sobotka). Even Chaz Roe was good.

    Jace was better than you thought that year – his one decent performance. He was all about getting on base more than hitting so well (you remember “Jace-on-base”?) (.350 OBP). That season was filled with promising players who didn’t pan out. Jace, Wisler, Blair, Cabrera, Tyrell, Rio, even Mallex who became better after he left. If some of those players had panned out, the season (and the next) would have gone much better.

    The Braves should have dumped Fredi during the two “collapse” years. I think the Braves, when they played well, played well in spite of Fredi rather than for him. Whatever you think about Snitker, the boys “play” for him. The way 2016 ended gave lots of hope for a big 2017 (which was not to be sadly).

    I have been watching the Braves so long that the losing seasons don’t get me down. That was more than norm in the 70s and 80s. Younger people are spoiled by America’s Team from the 90s and even the aughts.

  13. Although Aybar was the true symbol of the 2016 Braves. He was so awful that it hurt the whole team. What was even more frustrating is that he turned back into a semi-viable major league player after he left. Aybar and Olivera and EOF and Blair and Bonifacio and Daniel Castro and such just sucked the life out of this team in 2016.

  14. These last 2 10 for 10’s have been the 2 worst teams of the decade. But the draft positions allowed us to draft these players in the next two drafts: Ian Anderson, Joey Wentz, Kyle Muller, Bryse Wilson, Jeramy Walker, Tucker Davidson, Kyle Wright, Drew Waters, and Freddy Tarnok.

  15. For me, 2016 was the ¨year of the rotation¨ in Rome. Soroka, Touki, Weigel, Fried, and Riccardo Sanchez started the year, and after the weather warmed up they were joined by Kolby Allard. Other than that Acuna kid the offense sucked but that didn´t matter as they rolled to the Sally League championship. What a wonderful team to watch! So, 2016 didn´t really suck after all…

  16. King Félix needs to stop throwing the fastball and just put his junk on the table. Sorry, not sorry.

  17. Agree that there’s nothing to lose in signing Felix. The guy had a really hard fall from grace, but he’s only 33. It’s hard to believe that his last halfway decent year was 2016.

  18. Felix is certainly not too old to have a recovery. Anibal comes to mind with this deal. Probably nothing, but he’s a heck of a high upside signing.

  19. @24 I agree… if he can pitch, it keeps Newk in the pen. But most accounts it sounds like he is a good dude and pretty easy to root for. Seems like a high upside opportunity to me

  20. Roger, thanks for the feedback. I found much of what you said is true but I was dead set on writing a dreary peice, so facts weren’t important…haha. I tried to inject some side eyed optimism as it became apparent that there was more to like than i wanted to admit, but overall the feel was going to be derived from my spoiled millennial perspective. My first baseball memory is the Sid Bream Slide so 2015 and 2016 were brutal for me, a Bama, Packers, Braves fan.

  21. To further agree with Roger, and Rob earlier. it is somewhat confounding that this team didnt win more games. Perhaps that’s why I’m so down on it. I remember the Snitker bounce, and some thoughts of contending when we closed in on .500 mid year, but that was just delusional fans like me not accepting the reality of rebuilding.

  22. Joshua Doss…

    Welcome, you’re off and running with a good start. BTW they did tell you up front I hope that every third piece must be in light verse and sent to this address for prior approval? Surely! Youth must be served as the old castles crumble. I am assuming youth on your part.

    HOF…O dear. Do I not remember, this time last year, there was a consensus reached after the usual days/weeks of going round and round the mulberry bush it just wasn’t worth the bother to get emotionally involved with all the usual politics/backroom wheeling dealing etc etc.. From memory we seemed to end up with a consensus – not a majority – to this effect. But here we are again. Anyway, put me down, zero respect and interest for a deeply flawed institution.

    Kink Felix, wow! Only 32 I see, masterful.

    We plow the fields and scatter the buckos on the land
    and they are fed and watered by A’s almighty hand
    he plows so deep to find ’em
    their age a constant fear
    it’s either hope and triumph
    or yet another tear.

    All things bright and beautiful
    all pitchers short and tall
    He wants to fill the bullpen
    before it gets to fall.

  23. Rebuilding….but not too many please!

    Why do you…
    Build us up, build us up, cluttercup baby
    just to let us down, let us down then mess us around
    and then worst of all, worst of all we always fall baby
    then you say you will, say you will that you love us still
    we need you, we need you and a chosen few baby
    you know that we have, from the Spring
    so build us up, build us up, cluttercup baby,
    our very last, last, fast final fling!

  24. I’ve been banging the drum about Scott Rolen for years, the clearest example in recent years of a no-doubt Hall of Famer who was in danger of being ignored by voters. I’m encouraged by any signs that he’ll push through and get in.

    To be clear, most of the old WAR posts would say that a league-average performance for a full-time player is worth around 2 WAR. Jace was never close to that. His career WAR is negative and the best years of his career were barely distinguishable from replacement level. Got to remember, league-average performance is hard to find -as the bullpen that year proved beyond doubt – so full-time guys between 0 and 2 WAR are actually below average.

  25. The Felix deal depresses me–not because of the money involved, which is trivial, but because it exemplifies, I strongly suspect, the front office’s approach for the rest of the offseason: grab some already scratched-off lottery tickets out of a public trash can and hope against all reason it pays.

    The more I think about the Donaldson situation, the more it pisses me off. After the shrewd but not-ground-breaking moves of November and December, this team needed ONE PIECE to extend last year’s success. They refused to pay for it. Doesn’t every championship team at some point have to make a big, perhaps risky splash? This team will probably never do that again. Instead, we’ll get stuff like this. (And “stuff” like Chris Rusin, whatever that is.)

    The Braves will likely be competitive, and they may even win the division again. I think it’s just as likely the offense will take a step back without a true power threat outside of Freddie and Ronald. Hope I’m wrong.

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