Braves: Utilizing the DH

If baseball happens in 2020, it’s been widely reported that the divisions will be divided based on geography and for this one year (at least), the designated hitter will be universal. It’s my opinion that we’ve seen the last MLB baseball game without the DH and this year’s pandemic has created an avenue to implement something that’s been a desire of Manfred’s since becoming commissioner. The DH should work out well in the Braves favor as the team is built for depth. Today’s topic, “Braves: Utilizing the DH”, will look at options for the Braves to utilize the DH to give most players rest and a solid amount of playing time to stay fresh throughout the season.

Atlanta Braves Depth Chart

Before beginning this exercise, it’s important to see a breakdown of the players and the positions they’ve played over the course of their professional careers. However, I’m not going to include 3B aside Freddie Freeman‘s name or 1B for Tyler Flowers as it’s just unnecessary and highly unlikely that the Braves will reach that point of ridiculousness. It’s also implied that each player below is a DH candidate and therefore not needed to list.

With news being leaked, but not confirmed, that teams will have a 30-man active roster and a 50-man roster to pull from, I’m going to add a few players to this list who aren’t on the 40-man, but will likely make a 30-man or a 50-man roster.

  1. Freddie Freeman- 1B
  2. Ozzie Albies– 2B, SS (only in extreme emergency)
  3. Dansby Swanson– SS, 2B (only in extreme emergency)
  4. Austin Riley– 3B, 1B, LF, RF
  5. Johan Camargo– 3B, 1B, SS, LF, RF
  6. Marcell Ozuna– LF, RF
  7. Ender Inciarte– LF, CF, RF
  8. Ronald Acuña Jr- LF, CF, RF
  9. Tyler Flowers- C
  10. Travis d’Arnaud-C
  11. Adam Duvall– LF, RF
  12. Nick Markakis– LF, RF
  13. Adeiny Hechavarria– SS, 3B, 2B, 1B
  14. Charlie Culberson– Every frickin’ where
  15. Likely a LH bat (Rafael Ortega, Yonder Alonso, outside org)

Braves: Utilizing the DH

At this point, it seems pretty easy to find playing time for most of the players considering the circumstances. If the MLB is projecting 80-ish games, if healthy, Freeman, Albies, and Acuña should be in there everyday with Freeman getting a handful of DH slots.

From there, it feels like handedness should be considered. While it still looks as though this team needs a LHH (*cough* Ben Zobrist), there are options for great lineups against both LH and RH pitching. Here’s my regular lineup pitch followed by my pitch for DH utilization:

Braves Lineup vs. RHP

  1. Ronald Acuña Jr.
  2. Ozzie Albies
  3. Freddie Freeman
  4. Marcell Ozuna
  5. Nick Markakis
  6. Johan Camargo
  7. Travis d’Arnaud
  8. Ender Inciarte
  9. Dansby Swanson

Braves Lineup Vs. LHP

  1. Ronald Acuña Jr.
  2. Ozzie Albies
  3. Freddie Freeman
  4. Marcell Ozuna
  5. Adam Duvall
  6. Austin Riley
  7. Tyler Flowers
  8. Johan Camargo
  9. Dansby Swanson

Utilizing the DH

Players that make my list for DH candidates are categorized 2 ways:

  • A player worth hitting everyday that needs a break from the field or is a below average. Those players would be Freddie Freeman (needs break) and Marcell Ozuna (below average…according to many metrics).
  • A player whose handedness gives an advantage in the lineup. Those players would be Adam Duvall, Nick Markakis, Johan Camargo, and Austin Riley.

If Brian Snitker can get out of the mindset of an everyday lineup, especially with the insertion of the DH, the Braves could really benefit from the natural depth and defensive flexibility of the offense. Here’s how I see it:

  1. Freddie Freeman gets 7-8 games of rest over the course of the 82-game season with one of Johan Camargo or Austin Riley playing 1B.
  2. Marcell Ozuna gets 10-12 games of rest over the course of the 82-game season with Nick Markakis or Adam Duvall filling in at LF.
  3. Austin Riley and Johan Camargo split time at 3B and each sees time at DH 15-20 games.
  4. Nick Markakis sees a lot of DH starts against RHP.

In this scenario, it’s hard to find at-bats for guys like Charlie Culberson or Adeiny Hechavarria, and that’s the dilemma of the American League game. While I don’t have many answers for Culberson, I do believe Adeiny will receive a handful of starts at shortstop, but there’s not much justification in seeing either in a DH spot.

Thanks for reading on Braves, Utilizing the DH. Check out all of our offseason analysis here.

Author: Ryan Cothran

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

28 thoughts on “Braves: Utilizing the DH”

  1. For those waiting on shirts, I’ve yet to make it to the post office as my wife’s work has went into hyperdrive and I’ve had kids during post office hours.

    Also, our podcast recording got pushed back to tonight so if you’ve got any mailbag questions, drop them here.

  2. Can anyone share from behind the ESPN paywall who Jay Jaffe’s most HoF worthy Brave is not yet induced?

  3. The CBA isn’t up until after 2021, so on a side note, this season getting canceled would probably save pitchers batting in the NL until 2022. That’s assuming the 2021 season is a relatively normal one, of course, which is quite an assumption right now.

  4. Great article. I think the Braves are pretty well set up to use the DH. Is there an article showing each NL team’s main DH option? I think the Braves probably have one of the best ones in Riley vs. LHP. I can live with Markakis’ bat against RHP. I’m not sure there’s a ton of NL teams that can put up a .900 OPS candidate against LHP and a .800 OPS candidate against RHP without a corresponding gap out in the field.

    Thanks for letting me vent about labor unrest, y’all. I think it all started with the Dallas Keuchel saga, my top has been blown, and now I’ll leave everybody alone about it. That’s one of the best things about this place. If you get something stuck in our craw, this place is pretty good about not making you feel like a complete loonbag (just a moderate loonbag). Thanks, everyone.

  5. Just a quick perusal through the 3 NL East contenders and their DH situations:

    NY – I guess J.D. Davis? You would put Jeff McNeill at 3B for defensive purposes. That’s a .896 OPS last year, which is stout. That’s assuming Conforto, Nimmo, and Marisnick in the outfield.

    Washington – Eric Thames or Howie Kendrick? Probably a strict L/R thing there? That’s also stout.

    Philly – Little less clear. Maybe Jay Bruce? Neil Walker? Not great options, IMO.

    So, I was wrong. NY and Washington are in great shape with the DH. I’d have to look deeper to see how protected they are from injuries.

  6. Rob,
    As to MLB labor/work stoppage issues, I’m sympathetic to your frustration. The 94-95 stoppage drove me bananas. When Bud Selig cancelled the season and post-season on what I believed were bogus grounds, I despaired. And it was made worse by the plan in spring 1995 to use replacement players. Thanks to Judge Sotomayor’s Order at the last minute, we got most of a normal season in 95. Given how that season turned out, I got over my frustration with the whole situation. :)
    But I will always view with deep skepticism the owners’ moans about losing money. And as effective as Selig was in many ways, I never forgave him.

  7. From the last thread. I’m sure the Braves are hoping that a first round draft pick (9) has a better playing career than David Ross. He put up 10 WAR in 15 years.

    I also agree though that Ross was very good as a Brave. I’d still bet that the return for the 9th pick in the draft is expected to be higher though.

  8. I don’t really understand the fascination with Zobrist. It was a small sample size last year, but wouldn’t you expect worse numbers instead of better ones this year? At 39 will he have anything left in the tank?

  9. I dunno that having trouble finding at-bats for Adeiny Hechavarria is a “dilemma” so much as “music to my ears.”

    Very thorough piece though Ryan — thank you!

  10. Thanks Cliff and Tfloyd!! Andruw for the Hall!!
    -On David Ross, he’s one of those catchers that FanGraphs values a whole lot more, with 22.4 WAR, than BP does. While his 4 yrs with the Braves were some of his best he overall put up a career OPS+ of 94, which is still above average for a catcher. But we all agree with a 9th overall pick you are definitely hoping for more.

  11. I totally get wanting your first-round pick to become a star. But even at 9th overall, you’re lucky to get a good regular. In the 40 drafts from 1974-2014, exactly ten of the 40 players taken in that spot managed to reach 10 rWAR for their career:

    2011: Javier Baez (16.8 WAR)
    2003: John Danks (20.2 WAR)
    1999: Barry Zito (31.9 WAR)
    1997: Michael Cuddyer (17.8 WAR)
    1996: Mark Kotsay (21.4 WAR)
    1995: Geoff Jenkins (21.9 WAR)
    1987: Kevin Appier (54.5 WAR)
    1982: Duane Ward (10.1 WAR)
    1981: Ron Darling (19.6 WAR)
    1979: Steve Buechele (16.5 WAR)

    Jeff Francis (9.6 WAR), taken 9th in 2002, just missed the WAR cutoff. No one else narrowly missed.

    (Link to the full report, obviously, at b-ref. )

    Among guys drafted in recent years, a couple other guys (Austin Meadows, Keston Hiura, maaaaaaybe Ian Happ) look like they could turn into stars like Baez, but the jury’s still out.

    Baez has a good shot of being the best position player ever taken ninth, even if Kevin Appier is likely to remain best overall. If Langeliers has a career as good as Ross, he’ll be way above average for that particular draft slot.

  12. I may be cherry-picking slightly.

    The 10th overall picks have had a somewhat better track record: 15 out of 40, from 1974 to 2014, including quality position players like Mark McGwire, Robin Ventura, and Eric Chavez.

    However, among the 8th overall picks, 11 of 40 cleared 10 WAR, including Todd Helton. And among 11th overall picks, just 8 of 40 cleared 10 WAR, including Max Scherzer.

    So the performance of the 9th picks has not been wildly disproportionate to the other picks near them in the first round. If Langeliers could replicate Rossy’s career, I’d take it.

  13. Thanks for doing that research Alex. 40 yrs is a pretty good sample size. Curious to know did you find a draft position that there seemed to a noticeable difference in performance results? Was there a noticeable spot, say #5 for instance, where there was a clear step up in performance levels from there to #1, over what the overall average trend was?

  14. Full numbers:

    # out of 40 above 10 WAR
    1st: 27 out of 40 (HOFers include Harold Baines, Chipper Jones, Ken Griffey Jr., and A-Rod is HOF quality)
    2nd: 19 out of 40 (Justin Verlander is a likely HOFer)
    3rd: 17 out of 40 (but HOFer Robin Yount in 1973 just misses the cutoff; Paul Molitor from 1977 is also a HOFer)
    4th: 10 out of 40 (but HOFer Dave Winfield in 1973 just misses the cutoff; Barry Larkin, drafted 1986, is a Hall of Famer, and Kevin Brown from 1985 is borderline)
    5th: 12 out of 40
    6th: 12 out of 40 — but multiple HOF or borderline-HOF players, including Derek Jeter, Barry Bonds, Zack Greinke, and Gary Sheffield
    7th: 12 out of 40
    8th: 11 out of 40
    9th: 10 out of 40
    10th: 15 out of 40
    11th: 8 out of 40
    12th: 12 out of 40
    13th: 7 out of 40
    14th: 11 out of 40
    15th: 6 out of 40
    16th: 11 out of 40
    17th: 8 out of 40
    18th: 6 out of 40
    19th: 6 out of 40 (but one of them is Roger Clemens)
    20th: 8 out of 40
    21st: 6 out of 40
    22nd: 11 out of 40
    23rd: 7 out of 40
    24th: 6 out of 40
    25th: 5 out of 40 (but one of them is Mike Trout)
    26th: 3 out of 40
    27th: 3 out of 40
    28th: 5 out of 40
    29th: 5 out of 40
    30th: 7 out of 40

    I’d group them sort of like this:

    1st overall: in a class of its own
    2nd through 4th overall: Lots of stars.
    5th through 7th: Still some stars, but it’s much spottier.
    8th through 12th: Really hit and miss.
    13th through 24th: Mostly crap with some decent regulars, and Roger Clemens.
    25th through 30th: Even more mostly crap, except for Mike Trout.

  15. I mean, he basically did exactly the same thing that Griffey did. He played every game and played center field as well as it’s ever been played in the history of the game, and then his body utterly broke down and he sucked.

  16. For those of you that are of a certain age and love Southern football, my first employer, my dad’s legit friend, and former Auburn coach Pat Dye has COVID-19, is having kidney failure from it and the end is probably (may be) near.

    I can’t tell you how it felt to be 11 years old and working for an SEC head football coach (on his farm about 3 miles from my house). I also can’t tell you how much it meant to see how much that a man that you idolized, respected my father and treated him like he was an older brother or uncle.

    If Pat passes, a part of my childhood will pass with him.


  17. I’m a UA grad, but I’m definitely sad to hear the news about Pat Dye. Bama was dominating Auburn for years and he came along and turned things upside down. I believe he is more responsible than anyone for the Alabama/Auburn rivalry being among the greatest in college football. I got to know one of his daughters and she was a great person. He’ll definitely be in my prayers.

  18. Sorry to hear about Pat Dye. Hope he pulls thru. He was an All American Ga Bulldog in the late 50s so I couldn’t really hate him when he coached the Plainsmen

  19. Dale Murphy would be on the list above if you go one more year — to age 31. His 7.7 WAR at age 31 means he had just sort of 90 percent of his WAR through age 31. It helps this stat, of course, that his last 4 years combined were -0.8 WAR.

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