Atlanta Braves Outfield: Best of the 10 for 10’s

In our initial segment on Best of the 10 for 10’s, we looked at the best of the Atlana Braves Infield.

Today, we take a gander at the best of the Atlanta Braves Outfield of the 2010’s. Just a reminder that in determining who’s the best, we followed a simple criteria. If there was one player that had a great outlying year that supersedes other players, that player gets the nod. If a player has 1 great year that’s slightly better than another player who sustained success for multiple years, the latter gets the nod. If you disagree, feel free to yell at us in the comments.

Atlanta Braves Outfield, Best of the 10 for 10’s: Right Field

Jason Heyward– I bet if you asked the casual Atlanta Braves fan, they’d tell you that Jason Heyward’s tenure was a massive disappointment. Make no mistake, after his rookie year, MLB analysts everywhere were dropping Heyward’s name in MVP conversations. That was an unfair expectation for the then 21 year old and it likely led to the aforementioned criticisms of his 5 years in Atlanta.

Mostly playing RF, with spot starts in CF, Heyward was worth 19.6 fWAR in 5 years with the Braves, averaging right under 4 fWAR/year. In all likelihood, he would’ve surpassed 20 fWAR had he not been forced to sit 50ish games in 2013 with a broken jaw. In his final year of team control, he was dealt to the Cardinals for Tyrell Jenkins and Shelby Miller, which in turn, matured into Ender Inciarte, Dansby Swanson, and Aaron Blair. So…let’s thank Heyward for 5 great years in a Braves uniform and smile internally knowing that his 1 year of sacrifice turned into the greatest trade we Braves fans have likely ever seen.

And I was in the building for this…what a moment!

Atlanta Braves Outfield, Best of the 10 for 10’s : Center Field

Michael Bourn– It was 2012…a year where the Braves started with an outfield of Martin Prado, Michael Bourn, and Jason Heyward. Outside of Heyward, expectations weren’t terribly high, but that OF combined for over 15 fWAR, and no OF since has trumped that total.

Bourn was just okay when the Braves acquired him in 2011 to fill the space of suckitude that was the CF position. Between Nate McLouth and Jordan Schafer (effing success), the Braves were boasting the worst CF in the MLB To correct that, the Braves swung a deadline deal for Bourn giving up Jordan Schafer, Brett Oberholtzer, Paul Clemens and Juan Abreu. A big prospect cost at the time, but none of the names had successful MLB careers so it was the right call. Fast forward 1/2 an MLB year, and Bourn was remarkable for the Braves in 2012, carrying a 5.3 fWAR and solidifying the leadoff spot with a .348 OBP and 42 SBs to boot.

Atlanta Braves Outfield, Best of the 10 for 10’s: Left Field

Ronald Acuna– After Jason Heyward and Michael Bourn, it feels good knowing that, for as long as the Braves want him, Ronald Acuna Jr. will be kicking ass and taking names in the Atlanta Braves outfield. Like Heyward, Ronald Acuna Jr. came into the MLB with almost unrealistic expectations. However in the 1.7 years that he’s been a big leaguer, he’s been everything the team could ask for, collecting 9.3 fWAR in the process and leading the Braves to back to back division titles.

The unexpected positive that’s come along with RAJ has been his baserunning (other than the occasional lapse going to first) as he’s graded out as a plus-plus baserunner and has carried a high percent success rate in stolen bases.

The negative of Acuna’s 2 years with the organization has been the in your face celebrations that have rubbed some of his opponents and teammates the wrong way, and I’ve only got one thing to say to that.

Freaking get over it.

Thanks for reading our 10 for 10’s piece on the Atlanta Braves Outfield. If you enjoyed this piece, check out our reflection on Ronald Acuna Jr’s 2019 season.

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20 thoughts on “Atlanta Braves Outfield: Best of the 10 for 10’s”

  1. I totally forgot that on Acuña’s 40th HR, Chip yells, “…and Acuña has…gone dard!”

    His highlight video is something to behold.

  2. Rosenthal notes that the four good teams in the NL East are all bunched up – the Braves are the best but not by much. We’re also the only one of the four that has the cap room to add Bryant without going over the luxury tax threshold.

    Notwithstanding that JonathanF’s analysis earlier in the off-season seems to suggest that trying to purchase additional playoff certainty is a mug’s game… I’m into it. We got the prospects, we got the room, and we got one last position to fill. Go get him, Thoppy.

    https://theathletic.com/1574788/2020/01/31/rosenthal-one-big-move-could-decide-the-nl-east-which-team-wants-to-make-it/

  3. I think there is a distinction to be made between uncertainty within the playoffs vs uncertainty getting there. we project as a 91 win team which will win between 85 and 97 games about 70% of the time. The lower band would really suck with 3 other teams in the division who can win more. I would much rather start the year with a 94.5 win team (with Bryant at 3rd) and expect between 89-101 wins. That 2nd option likely makes the playoffs the vast majority of the time.

  4. Agreed, though, given the weakness of the NL Central, it’s almost certain that the 2nd-place team in the East will make the Wild Card, and it’s very possible that the 3rd-place team will, too. So there’s definitely a certain amount of certainty to be purchased, but it’s really about trying to get a bye in the Wild Card round, rather than making it past the 162nd game.

  5. But is acquiring Bryant really that much of an upgrade on the win expectation? Yes he can be expected to produce better than current options offensively. But I’ve seen some good analysis on that and Bryant is below average defensively at 3rd, almost enough to offset the offensive advantage he has over our internal options. The difference is only 1-2 wins I think in the projection systems. That’s not enough in my opinion for the tremendous prospect costs it would take to acquire Bryant.

  6. Yes, his D was bad last year but you also need to consider that his defense wasn’t that bad 2 years ago and that his acquisition is likely to strengthen the bench.

  7. I don’t believe in trading for the All-Time Futurity; I trade for players who are going to help me in the here and now, not in some Great-Come-and-Get-It Day. It has been my experience that the Youth Plans and Five-Year Plans lead not to pennants but only to new Five-Year Plans. For further details, please consult the Philadelphia Phillies.

    Bill Veeck, “Veeck—As in Wreck: The Autobiography,” published 1962

  8. Published in 1962, but that continues to be true for the Phillies mostly ever since, though those bastards do have a title more recently than us.

  9. Not sure I agree so much with the hypotheses in the article. Considering Acuna has played all over the outfield and is likely to be a long term RF, you could argue his inclusion in any of the positions. I think it might have been better to go with the best three of any stripe. I am not sure Bourn should be on the list. He did have one great year but he was also with the Braves for two other very sub-par years. Even in his 6 WAR year, his OPS+ was pedestrian. Heyward (representing early 2010’s) and Acuna (representing recent years) seem like no-brainers but #3 is quite the puzzle. Justin Upton deserves at least some mention as #3 (especially if you lump Acuna into CF). Prado and Inciarte, too. Inciarte was awfully good for 2+ years. If Ender could put up one more 3 WAR year for us then 2020 would be the best OF since 2012. Seemed to me like JUpt was always underappreciated. I remember him having hot streaks that single-handedly carried the team for days.

  10. Is there a board consensus on bringing up Pache and/or putting Inciarte on the trading block? The team has a long, and mostly successful, history of aggressively promoting elite defensive players at premium positions.

  11. @Rog
    It’s a reasonable argument to include Acuña in CF and replace LF with JUp, or Prado. However, Acuña played more LF in the 2010’s so I put him there. From there it was a judgment call between Bourn and Ender and I went with Bourn as he had that 1 season where he put up a fWAR of 5.3 while Ender has hovered around 3, albeit for more years.

    @sansho

    I’d trade Ender tomorrow…but not to bring up Pache. Kid needs more seasoning.

  12. Leave Bryant alone. He is a manufactured product, not a natural. His stance is absurd. He is so tall that fielding a ground ball requires an extra 11 centimeters of drop-down time.

    Whoosh – it’s gone.

  13. Everyone here is forgetting Nick Markakis, maybe our most reliable rightfielder of the decade and I think going forward another season at least. A .290 career BA getting toward 2500 hits and now 3 Gold Gloves is moving toward HOF #’s and as good as he takes care of himself it could happen. Not great power although he can turn on one when he gets a chance. Notice I said “toward HOF #s” not there yet but Snit and a couple other Brave are with me thinking it could happen. Nobody else on this list has those numbers, certainly not Martin, Heyward, or the others. Snit needs to not lizten to him and rest him more. Id pick him as our right fielder.

  14. @13

    Not everyone …a pean to Markakis, what a fine way to start a Sunday.

    Saint Nick…be thou never ever present.

    pean…noun: (ancient Greece) a hymn of praise (especially one sung in ancient Greece to invoke or thank a deity)

  15. @ 13…

    Mickey Pietrocola
    our man in Rome, ex payola?
    The Irishman in exile
    best you should stay out of his text file.

  16. @Mickey
    Markakis is a fine player. He’s able to go out there daily (although I wish he wouldn’t) and be right about league average which has value, especially at 4MM.

    And that’s all I’ve got to say on that.

  17. Regarding Markakis, our professional hitter, to quote Marge Simpson’s therapist:

  18. For what it’s worth, Bourn and Markakis have virtually identical fWAR with the Braves despite the fact that Markakis has three times as many plate appearances. Inciarte is a reasonable choice for the all-decade team. Neck just isn’t.

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