A Braves Dilemma: Johan Camargo? Austin Riley? YES!

Courtesy of @680TheFan

A good problem to have…gosh, I’m sick of hearing it. Having both Johan Camargo and Austin Riley performing well above average this spring and looking like both fixed flaws, Camargo of the physical, Riley, the mental, these words have been uttered by too many that have surveyed the situation. Screw it in the dadgum dirt. We have a Braves Dilemma: Camargo or Riley?

Play them both. Carry them both.

Braves Dilemma: Riley and Camargo have Adjusted. Now it’s Snitker’s turn

Some will look at this piece and see it as a bash on Brian Snitker. It’s not. At least it’s not intended to be, but ALL CAPS me to death if it makes you feel better. Brian Snitker is a player’s manager. The players love him. That’s apparent. I think that’s why most Braves fans love him. The clubhouse dynamic he’s built since taking over has been exactly what the Braves needed after the Coppy debacle, and has been exactly what the Braves needed these past 2 years in back to back division titles.

But now?

Nothing’s changed. The Braves still need Snitker. However, they need him in a slightly altered form of his 2018 and 2019 self. They need a manager open to longevity through and beyond a 162 game season. They need a manager willing to say no to a player’s demand of playing everyday (here’s looking at you, Freddie Freeman). And they need a manager that will find a way to let Anthopoulos build the best 26-man roster in the organization, and find playing time and rest for all 26 men. That means carrying both Johan Camargo and Austin Riley.

Finding Playing Time for both Johan Camargo and Austin Riley

There are 162 starts/year at Third Base. That’s pretty simple, right? Now let’s divide that number directly in ½ to get our starting point:

  • 81 starts for Riley.
  • 81 starts for Camargo.

Finding Rest for Ozzie Albies, Dansby Swanson, and Freddie Freeman

Ozzie is in ridiculous shape and doesn’t need many off days, but for this hypothetical, let’s say that each everyday player has been asked to rest 8 games in the year with pinch hitting capabilities on rest days. In this hypothetical, we’re also assuming health to get a “worst-case scenario” as far as starts for Riley and Camargo. 

Like Ozzie, Dansby receives the allotted 8 games off, however Adeiny Hechavarria grabs those starts, but Camargo gets Ozzie’s off days.

While he might go kicking, screaming, and pouting, Freddie Freeman is also in this mandatory time off, and will sit 8 games over the course of the year and Austin Riley will take over 1B duties.

  • 89 starts for Riley.
  • 89 starts for Camargo.

Interleague Play

The Braves will have the privilege of using the DH 10 times in the 2020 season, and while I wouldn’t expect all 10 of those to go to Riley or Camargo, I’d expect at least 6 if they’re trying to keep them fresh, which would add 3 each to this hypothetica.

  • 92 starts for Riley
  • 92 starts for Camargo

Adding it All Up

If this scenario were to work itself out, the Braves would be giving both Riley and Camargo about 360-380 plate appearances should they bat 5th or 6th in the lineup. Add another 40-50 in pinch-hitting appearances, and we’d be looking at 400+ plate appearances for each player.

Now tell me something…which would be the bigger injustice? Sending one of these guys down to get everyday playing time at a level they’ve nothing to prove, or giving each 400 plate appearances in the MLB? 

Your move, Anthopoulos

And make it work, Snitker.

Thanks for reading on the Braves Dilemma of Camargo or Riley! If you enjoyed this piece, check out this piece on hard decisions coming for the Braves 40-man Roster.

Long Live Braves Journal!

Author: Ryan Cothran

Ryan is the site editor and manager of Braves Journal. Follow him on Twitter.

26 thoughts on “A Braves Dilemma: Johan Camargo? Austin Riley? YES!”

  1. I wish it were that simple… Snit has just shown no inclination to do business that way and his comments this spring haven’t seemed like he has turned a corner either. Let’s hope AA influences this decision and we keep the best players on the active roster.

  2. Pretty good piece by DOB on Tyler Matzek’s long, long journey: https://theathletic.com/1662993/2020/03/08/tyler-matzek-hopes-tough-journey-from-1st-rounder-to-indy-ball-ends-in-atlanta/

    In principle I agree with Ryan’s post. The thing to remember is that there will be injuries, we just don’t know who. But Snitker needs to learn how to rest his regulars and how to get playing time for his platoon guys.

    I think I went through this once last year, but while Snitker thinks that he gave Camargo a fair shot at being a supersub, I think he yanked that away after just a few weeks. This is how Johan was used last year.

    March-April: 14 GS, 10 PH/sub appearances. 71 total PA. (Team played 29 games, Johan appeared in 24 of them.)
    May: 8 GS, 11 PH/sub appearances. 44 total PA. (Team played 28 games, Johan appeared in 19 of them.)
    June: 5 starts, 15 PH/sub appearances. 37 total PA. (Team played 28 games, Johan appeared in 20 of them.)
    July: 9 starts, 6 PH/sub appearances. 45 total PA. (Team played 24 games, Johan appeared in 15 of them.)
    August: 9 starts, 2 PH/sub appearances. 39 total PA. (Team played 28 games, Johan appeared in 11 of them.)
    September: 2 starts, 7 PH/sub appearances. 12 total PA. (Team played 25 games, Johan appeared in 9 of them.)

    Totals: 47 starts, 52 appearances as a pinch hitter, pinch runner, or defensive substitute. 248 total PA, more than a quarter of them in the first month of the season. Camargo played more than a bench player, but far less than he would have if he were a true supersub. In my view, he deserved more of a shot than he got.

  3. @2 and the sad thing is was that his bat was coming around when he got hurt late in the season. How much better would he have been and would we have been if he received those PA’s throughout the season?

  4. From down the board… Not surprised Bryse Wilson was an earl(iest) cut. Because he is not good and probably never will be.

    OTOH, we definitely ought to be able to put together a good bullpen from this cadre.

  5. @4
    He’s 22 years old yet for whatever reason you become tone deaf when someone mentions that.

  6. @4,5 I agree he has not been good this spring but we need to pump the brakes on declaring him “not good” for the remainder of his career. Let’s be patient with the kid

  7. Dear lord…know what Lucas Sims did as a reliever in 2019 as a 25 year old?

    26.1 IP, 3.42 ERA, 1.2 WHIP, 13.7 K/9

    And Bryse Wilson is a max effort guy when he’s hitting 99, not when he’s hitting 95. Serious question…how much have you actually watched of him? The ax-grinding on a 22 year old pitcher is absurd. That’s the real problem with fan mentality these days…0 patience for lack of immediate success for pitchers, when immediate sustained success for pitchers is very rare.

    Bryse Wilson should’ve NEVER been promoted as a 20 year old as his secondaries were not ready for the MLB and might not be ready present day. He was rushed. Don’t let the Braves mistake of thinking a 97 MPH fastball as a starter was enough to get MLB hitters out, with little development of secondaries, skew your judgment on a 22 year old.

  8. I think the Braves were really disappointed in Camargo’s defense last year. If he lives up to his defensive potential do we really need Hechevaria over Culberson?

  9. I didn’t realize that Adeiny Hechavarria and Charlie Culberson are literally the same age — Adeiny was born on April 15, 1989, and Charlie was born five days earlier on April 10. Charlie feels like a bit of a clubhouse good-luck charm, so I’d be very happy to hang on to him. Now that Hechavarria’s about to turn 31, I doubt his defense will make it worth carrying a roster spot for his career .278 wOBA.

    The advanced stats don’t think too highly of Camargo’s SS defense, which is a shame, because it would make it so much easier to get him into the lineup if he could get to the playable side of below-average.

  10. Plus you can give Riley some starts in left field. You could trade Duval for something too.

  11. I started a long comment with the premise that Snitker wasn’t giving his guys rest, and that resulted in Camargo not getting enough PAs. I’m not sure, after I look into it further, that was the case.

    Last year, amongst guys you wouldn’t necessarily consider to be “starters”, excluding catchers, those guys collected 1,271 PAs. I’m talking about Joyce, Culberson, Camargo, Riley, Duvall, Ortega, Hamilton, and Hech. This was heavily influenced by the fact that starting centerfielder Ender Inciarte only logged 230 PAs and starting right fielder Nick Markakis only recorded 469 PAs. But for this year, I wouldn’t expect Ender and Nick to get more than the 699 PAs they cumulatively collected last year anyway, so the 1,271 PAs given to “bench” players last year may very well be available this year.

    But why was there 1,271 PAs to give out, and Camargo only ended up with 248 of them? Like I said, I thought it was misuse by Snitker. But he gave Joyce 238 PAs, Ortega 96 PAs, the late-season combo of Hech and Hamilton got 118, and Duvall got 130. So it’s not like Snit was simply not willing to get other guys in the game. It seems to be that he uniquely didn’t want Camargo in the game nearly as much as we did.

    This makes me think that the offseason narrative of Camargo not being in shape is probably true, or Snitker uniquely had an incredibly short leash with Camargo, but then turned around and played Ortega wayyyyy past his usefulness, which is almost absurd enough that I’m not sure I believe it. But I don’t really know what to believe.

  12. To me, the key is not just the total PA, but the literal proportion of starts month to month. For example, after coming to the team on August 16, Hech made 15 starts and just 9 bench appearances; he was the starting shortstop for a week and a half while Dans was out.

    Likewise, Duvall made 26 starts and just 15 bench appearances; he was the starting left fielder for a couple of weeks in late July and early August when Riley got hurt.

    They weren’t really platooned, either of them. They got the bulk of their season PA in the brief bursts when they were regulars.

  13. If you can find Camargo 4 starts a week, I think that would make everybody happy. I think you can start him twice at 3rd every week, once or twice at short every week, and once at 2nd every other week, and then play it from there. That should get him over 400 PAs pretty easily while allowing Riley ~120 games as well. If Hech can PH like he did last week that’s great, but I honestly don’t think he should start at SS if Camargo is on the roster pining for PT.

  14. @12 There is 100% no doubt that Ortega was played well past his usefulness. He seemed to be Snit’s darling, though. Not sure why. I do believe he got some of his starts when literally everyone was injured (Markakis, Riley, Ender, etc…) and Camargo at AAA. And he likely got some innings as a defensive replacement and primary LH pinch hitter (when Joyce was starting). Seems like no one has any faith in Camargo in the OF, either. I think part of super-sub has to include both IF and OF work.

  15. Ryan, I couldn’t agree with you more that Camargo and Riley should both be on the team and each get significant playing time. But Snit has never shown the inclination to use the entire roster by resting regulars and giving significant starts to bench guys. Let’s hope he’s willing to give it a try.
    As I’ve said more than once, I don’t get giving a bench spot to Hech. He is not a major league hitter. For the one day every week or two that you may rest Swanson, give Johan a start at short.

  16. Howdy y’all… been awhile, but I heard recently from Ryan & AAR, so I figured I’d pop in & say hey… greetings from NYC.

    Looking forward to the season. Looking forward to baseball, period. Between the Mets & Yanks this year, I’ve already committed to a slew of games, including the most of the Braves visits to Citi Field – oddly, the Braves’ll be here a lot early… April 13-16, then again May 1-3. So, if any NYC area BravesJournal-folk (JonathanF?) expect to visit Flushing between Apr 13-16, hit me up – I’ll be at all 4 games. Hope the weather cooperates… it can get a little brisk & windy on Flushing Bay early in the season.

    3B? OK, I’ll pipe in…

    Austin Riley: Started out like Jeff Francoeur, ended up like Brad Komminsk. Still, I gotta believe that the same guy who tore up the upper-minors will sort it out. He’ll def be given every chance.

    Johan Camargo: Gotta like the versatility & the switch-hitting, but last year certainly wasn’t pretty. (FWIW, after his terrific 2018, he had a brutal NLDS – 16 PA, 0 for 15 w/ 1 BB in 4 games.) He can’t be that bad again & for the most part, he really can wallop LHP.

    Nonetheless… yes, of course… Let ‘em both play & use them to spell other positions here & there, especially Camargo. Both of ‘em gotta bounce back. It’s still March, so why not have faith?

    After Donaldson took the big Twinkie bucks, it didn’t completely break my heart. I’m sure he’ll have a killer year in the midst of a legit-scary lineup, but I’m glad we’re not on the hook for years 3 & 4, when he’s 36 & 37 and perhaps breaking down again. Here’s to the kids (Camargo turns 24 during the season, Riley will be 23) & some balanced contributions…

  17. Per MLB rumors:

    Lefty A.J. Minter and righty Chad Sobotka’s bids to earn season-opening roster spots with the Braves have already ended. The team optioned the pair Monday, leaving it with 52 players on its camp roster, David O’Brien of The Athletic tweets. Neither pitcher performed well for the Braves last year. Minter walked a little over seven hitters per nine, contributing heavily to a hideous 7.06 ERA in 29 1/3 innings. Sobotka wasn’t much better over his 29 frames, in which he logged a 6.21 ERA with 5.9 walks per nine and an HR/9 of 1.86.

  18. Great article, Ryan! Snitker has shown a willingness to adapt his thinking and strategies — notwithstanding what the Snitker haters claim — but this is hardly “new school” thinking. Bobby Cox, who was not known for being the most adaptable, used super-utility guys at multiple positions many times throughout his tenure as Braves manager.

    The Bryse Wilson attacks are silly. I’ve also grown tired of watching him struggle, but he’s young and the stuff is good. He’s very clearly not a “max effort” guy as one poster suggested, and in fact has brought his usual velocity down to around 93-94 on his fastball. His breaking stuff is great. In short, while he doesn’t have the pure stuff of a Kyle Wright, the stuff is there and you can see why no one in the know has given up on him.

  19. Math is off. If you give Freddie off 8 games and have riley play first for those games then carmargo will play 3rd those games taking his total to 100 games

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