2020 Braves Player Review: Darren O’Day

Amazon.com: 2020 Topps Total Baseball (Wave 4) #378 Darren O'Day Atlanta  Braves Official MLB Trading Card Online Exclusive Limited Print Run:  Collectibles & Fine Art

I’m glad I didn’t use ink, because pencil I can erase. Darren O’Day at $3.5MM with a $500K buyout after having a remarkable 2020 season? Surely, a no brainer and even put it up as a no brainer in my Braves Payroll Piece, then 2021 told 2020 to hold my beer:

  • Darren O’Day option declined (along with tons of other talented players that became free agents due to the uncertainty of 2021)
  • Brad Hand put on release waivers and PASSED THROUGH WITHOUT GETTING PICKED UP BY ANYONE
  • Kevin Gausman gets a qualifying offer after being 2 team’s garbage in the last year and a half.
  • Alex Cora re-hired by Boston after being head cheatleader.

But this piece isn’t about all that other crap. It’s about a 37-year old that pitched like a badass but recency bias will not remember that until I make it remember. And no, he wasn’t that bad in the postseason.

Darren O’Day 2021

There’s 0 way to project whether O’Day would’ve been able to maintain dominance for a season of 162, but he was bloody brilliant in 60. While only pitching in 16.1 innings, and never in back to back games, O’Day carried a 1.10 ERA, a 2.8 BB/9, and a 12.1 K/9. It’s a career best ERA for the 37 year old and his 2nd best K-rate of his career.

Many assume that because O’Day is a sidewinder that he’s vulnerable to the lefty bat. And while it may be true that LHHs hit him better for his career, it wasn’t true in 2020 as he dominated both (.432 OPS vs. RHH, .457 OPS vs. LHH).

The Advanced Metrics

It’s very rare that someone carries a 1.10 ERA for a season and advanced metrics show true to the ERA and O’Day is no different. Both his FIP and xFIP are much larger and that likely has to do with an insanely low BABIP against of .194. As the statheads say, that is unsustainable. *Visions of Chris Johnson’s .394 BABIP in 2013*

However, O’Day was a MONSTER at limiting hard contact. While he didn’t meet the number of innings to qualify, he would’ve been in the top 2% of the league (along with teammate Max Fried) in average exit velocity against as opponents averaged 83.9 MPH off the bat. Basically, the entire league hit him, on average, like cloned Ender Inciartes.

Darren O’Day 2021?

O’Day, originally Odachowski 3 gens back, shortened to Odach by his grandmother, then finally O’Day by Darren’s father and uncle, is currently a free agent. The Braves made a bit of a shocking move by letting him walk, but Peanut (Mark Bowman) seems to think that the Braves would like to retain his services but didn’t want to meet the $3MM price tag. Seems odd to me, but what do I know? There are some unanswered questions:

  • Is he retiring?
  • Will Braves re-sign him?
  • Did he request the buyout so he could spend his last year with Baltimore?
  • Was the option not being selected an endurance reason, not a performance reason?
  • Is Odachowski the greatest name for an eatery in a ski town?

Questions abound, but if I were a betting man, I’d bet O’Day wants to O’Stay with the Braves and $2MM sounds about right for both parties.

Author: Ryan Cothran

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

15 thoughts on “2020 Braves Player Review: Darren O’Day”

  1. O’Day is a bit like Brad Ziegler — no velocity, weird arm angle, and able to go his entire career without hitters being able to pick the ball up.

  2. Some good questions asked at the end there, Ryan. Is he retiring? He’s not a young man by baseball standards, but his arm angle may help him last a bit longer. That said, he has seen a bit of an injury history, at least as long as he’s been a Brave. I’d gamble on a $2MM deal, sure.

    I was also thinking of something else yesterday, somewhat unrelated to this particular thread. While it seems clear that budgets/payrolls are going to have uncertainty built into spending, isn’t the biggest uncertainty (for the NL at least) the unresolved question of a DH or not in 2021? Until that issue is clear, it rather hampers NL clubs with what and how they want to spend, and I’d think also players/agents in what offers to entertain or sign.

  3. I’ve heard from many baseball experts that the DH for 2021 is a “good bet”. I’d also expect it to be resolved (or close to resolution) at the GM meetings which are happening now.

    Tomorrow is the last day for players to accept or reject qualifying offers.

  4. I think I know why the Braves didn’t pick up O’Day’s option…

    Right-Handed Relievers

    Pedro Baez (33), Anthony Bass (33), Brad Boxberger (33), Jesse Chavez (37), Steve Cishek (35), Tyler Clippard (36), Alex Colome (32), Wade Davis (35), Chris Devenski (30), Oliver Drake (34), Ken Giles (30), Shane Greene (32), Javy Guerra (35), Matt Harvey (32), Liam Hendriks (32), Yoshihisa Hirano (37), Greg Holland (35)
    Jared Hughes (35), Tommy Hunter (34), Jeremy Jeffress (33), Nate Jones (35)
    Keone Kela (28), Ian Kennedy (36), Brandon Kintzler (36), Trevor May (31)
    Collin McHugh (34), Mark Melancon (36), Dovydas Neverauskas (28), Juan Nicasio (34), Darren O’Day (38), Roberto Osuna (26), Brad Peacock (33), Yusmeiro Petit (36), David Phelps (34), Erasmo Ramirez (31), AJ Ramos (34), David Robertson (36), Sergio Romo (38) Hector Rondon (33), Trevor Rosenthal (31), Hirokazu Sawamura (33)
    Joakim Soria (37), Pedro Strop (36), Tyler Thornburg (32) Josh Tomlin (36), Blake Treinen (33), Nick Vincent (34), Edinson Volquez (37), Brandon Workman (32)
    Kirby Yates (34)

    Left-Handed Relievers

    Jose Alvarez (32), Luis Avilan (31), Andrew Chafin (31), Ross Detwiler (35), Sean Doolittle (34), Brad Hand (31), Derek Holland (34), Mike Kickham (32), Aaron Loup (33), T.J. McFarland (32), Jake McGee (34), Oliver Perez (39), Nick Ramirez (31), Tony Watson (36), Justin Wilson (33)

    That is an absolutely INSANE list that will only get bigger as the non-tenders come in.

  5. Marvin Miller’s greatest fear was that the owners would realize that the best way to depress salaries was to sign every free agent to a one-year contract — so, every year, every single player would have to sign their contract in a market with the greatest possible supply:

    In the wake of the Messersmith decision it dawned on me, as a terrifying possibility, that the owners might suddenly wake up one day and realize that yearly free agency was the best possible thing for them; that is, if all players became free agents at the end of the year, the market would be flooded, and salaries would be held down. It wouldn’t so much be a matter of the teams bidding against one another for one player as of players competing against each other. … What would we do, I wondered, if just one of the owners was smart enough to figure out the money they would save if all players became free agents every year?

    https://blogs.fangraphs.com/marvin-millers-legacy-and-the-decline-of-labor/

    We may be about to see something similar.

  6. Would you do it? You’d essentially get Craig Kimbrel for $1.3MM.

  7. I would do the trade above in a split second. A $1 million gamble on Kimbrel is worth every penny. Inciarte will either be released now or salary dumped and be released in a month or two.

  8. @7 I think the only way the Braves trade Ender is to reduce salary obligations not increase them even for a chance at Kimbrel. The Braves are more likely to include a prospect to get someone to take on Ender’s contract and not get anything back (the Touki deal in reverse).

  9. Oh Man, i listened to the new Mets owner today on the radio, this sucks. We need a vanity owner soon because this guy is gonna spend.

  10. They still have to spend on the right players. And they’re still the Mets. I’ll save my worry for other things.

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