Braves One Year Wanker: Rick Cerone

Braves One Year Wanker, Rick Cerone was thrust into the national spotlight starting with the 1980 season, after he was traded to the New York Yankees to take the place of Yankees Captain Thurman Munson, who had been killed in a plane crash the previous August. The 26 year old Cerone had not hit very much in his 5 major league seasons with Cleveland and Toronto, still Chris Chambliss was included in the haul back to Toronto to fill the Yankees’ 1B hole.

Braves One Year Wanker, Rick Cerone

Cerone rewarded the Yankees with 14 homers and a .277/.321/.432 line, and nabbed 51% of prospective base stealers, leading the league. He accumulated 8.0 career WAR over 18 seasons in the majors, and 4.2 of it came in 1980. Knowing this, you can probably guess how well Rick did when he came to Atlanta in 1985. (Writers call this warshadowing, probably.) The 31 year old was coming off of a .208/.269/.283 season with the Yankees, and he posted a perfectly predictable .216/.288/.280 for the ’85 Braves.

A Collection of Meh

1985 kicked off the first of six consecutive seasons in which the Braves would touch 70 wins only once. If there was a theme to this desert period it was a fascination with bringing in well known older players, and Cerone became the first degree of cooked bacon. Rick was traded after the ’85 season to Milwaukee in a package for 36 year old Ted Simmons. That 1986 season also saw the arrival of 37 year old Ken Griffey Sr. In 1987 they added 42 year old Graig Nettles, and they liked that so much that in 1989 they added 42 year old Darrell Evans.

Cerone lasted 7 more seasons after leaving Atlanta. He had 8 career seasons where he was credited with negative WAR; interestingly, 1985 was the last of those (-0.4.) After leaving Atlanta, he had positive WAR all 7 of those final seasons, hovering around 1.0.

Author: Rusty S.

Rusty S. is a Braves Journal reader since 2005 and an occasional innings-eater. It was my understanding that there would be no expectations.

12 thoughts on “Braves One Year Wanker: Rick Cerone”

  1. The 80’s were such a bizarre time for the Braves. They were nationally broadcasted and still put out terrible teams every year without any real effort to get better. I mean, who was their biggest free agent signing? Claudell Washington?

  2. I’d love to watch a documentary about the 80’s Braves if anyone knows of one. I agree, it seems really weird that they had a great market, a great TV deal, the only team in the southeast, and they were just… bad.

  3. The negative defensive impact that’s applied to Freddie Freeman’s WAR over at Fangraphs is absurd. He was the 2nd most valuable 1B in terms of offensive production in 2019 and 19th in defense. Stretches have GOT to be added into their formula. #JusticeForFreddie

  4. The 80s Braves made the mistake of trading away Brett Butler and Steve Bedrosian. We also had Milt Thompson. Those guys could have helped. Ken Griffey played well for us. Bruce Sutter was an attempt in free agency that didn’t pan out.

  5. I’m not sure whether the Braves of the ’80s weren’t trying to get better, or whether they well and truly believed their own hype, that they WERE going to be good, and they were just that bad at their jobs.

    I tend to believe the latter.

  6. @3 It’s definitely hurt Freddie’s reputation. With stretches accounted for, he’s probably a top 10 defensive first baseman. And then he’s about a 6 fWAR player, I would think. People would view him as more of a borderline MVP than simply an above-average player.

  7. 1B, C, and corner outfield are the three positions whose DWAR I just can’t get behind. I think it works well up the middle and at 3B for the most part though now that teams are shifting so much perhaps it can be tweaked?

    But to your point every 1B has different strenghts and weaknesses that can really impact how well they do over there? Can’t dive but can scoop every bad throw (LaRoche), stretch halfway to the mound and guards the line well (Freeman), mediocre scooper but decent and going right (McGriff)…how do you put a score on that?

  8. The aesthetic value of the baseball card used to illustrate this post mirrors the tenure of Cerone as a Brave. An unmemorable wet noodle dud.

  9. I missed the 29 man roster discussion earlier, but I’m surprised that Culberson isn’t on it. With 29 men I’ve got to think they’ll find a place for Charlie.

  10. Thanks, Rusty. I had completely forgotten that Cerone ever played for the Braves. He does epitomize the mid to late eighties Braves.

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