Braves 2021 Player Review: A.J. Minter

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One of the key arms that helped make up a title-winning Braves club in 2021, A.J. Minter may have just completed his best season yet, which is saying something considering the lefty posted an 0.83 ERA during the shortened 2020 campaign and two seasons before that tallied 13 saves as Atlanta’s primary closer. Sometimes a season’s performance is less about the numbers and more about how they were obtained.

Now in Year 2 of the Will Smith era, Minter began 2021 as the Braves primary set-up guy, spending much of April working the seventh and eighth innings, though struggling at times with his consistency. His 3.97 ERA in the season’s first month was as good as it would get for Minter during the first-half, for May and June featured a combined 5.05 ERA and a .272 AVG allowed from opposing batters. In fact, by mid-July, the southpaw had found himself demoted to Triple-A Gwinnett, thanks to roughly a month’s worth of poor pitching; from June 10 to July 18 (a stretch of 15 appearances), Minter worked to a 7.45 ERA as he allowed 17 hits over 9.2 innings. The Braves bullpen was struggling, as was the team in general, but it was evident the former second-round pick needed some time to regroup.

And regroup is exactly what the 28-year-old Minter did. During his time with the Stripers, the lefty was perfect, working 7.1 hitless frames. The demotion evidently did him some good, and by the second week of August, Minter was back in Atlanta, where he continued his flawless pitching and provided another 7.2 innings of no-hit ball with the big league team. What could’ve been the end of his days as a high-leverage reliever for the Braves, wound up actually being a much-needed turning point for Minter. He would never look back from there.

As the team’s trade deadline acquisitions flourished and the Braves as a whole began its own turnaround, Minter continued to get stronger. Leaning on that cutter/four-seam combo more than ever before (making up nearly 90% of his total offerings overall in 2021), Minter was a stable arm out of the bullpen down the stretch, posting a 3.18 ERA and allowing just a .175 AVG in his final 12 appearances of the regular season. For a guy that had lost his job for a bit (even if it was for only a short time), the fact that Minter ended 2021 as one of the top-30 relievers in baseball – according to FanGraphs WAR (1.3) – illustrates just how impressive his second-half surge really was. It may not have been his best year numbers-wise, but 2021 will no doubt go down as Minter’s most notable performance on the mound, even if a World Series ring overshadows his personal success.

Which brings us to the playoffs, a stretch in which Minter served as more than just a late-innings force. For a guy that spent much of the regular season helping bridge the sixth-thru-eighth-inning gap, in this year’s postseason Minter was asked to appear a lot earlier than he was accustomed to. In fact, of his eight games pitched, half of them comprised of him entering in the fifth or earlier, including one in the third (Game 1 of the WS) and one in the fourth (Game 5 of the WS). Those early-innings appearances weren’t necessarily his best, but they were absolutely crucial for the Braves bullpen management nonetheless, and it allowed manager Brian Snitker to save his other high-leverage arms. Once again, Minter’s selflessness played a huge part. He was willing to go down to the minors to work on his craft during the regular season, as he was willing to alter his role as reliever in the playoffs.

Perhaps this is Minter growing as a big leaguer. The guy was a big time pick in the 2015 MLB Draft, going 75th overall and almost instantly becoming a top-tier prospect in the Braves system, debuting as a 23-year-old just two years later. He knows what it’s like to be at the top (like in 2018), and he certainly knows what it feels like to be at the bottom (like in 2019). Hell, there was a time when a lot of us didn’t expect him to ever pitch meaningful innings in Atlanta again, though a battle with shoulder inflammation surely didn’t help with that. Although, in 2021 — and 2020 for that matter — Minter has appeared 100% healthy and, more importantly, focused.

It’s a good thing too that Minter seems to be on the upward trend. Still in his prime, the lefty has three more guaranteed seasons with the Braves as he’ll enter his second year of arbitration this offseason, expected to earn roughly $2 million in salary (per Spotrac). Those are critical years for Atlanta as the team hopefully continues to keep its championship core intact, of which Minter will no doubt play an important role. With Smith and Luke Jackson guaranteed at least another season (with a team-option for the 2023 campaign for the former), Tyler Matzek three more and Chris Martin two more, the back-end of the Braves bullpen looks to be in fantastic shape for the foreseeable future. However, as we’re all plenty aware, production from a reliever can be quite a volatile thing sometimes. For now, though, Atlanta’s relief core appears strong, and a lot of that is because of Minter.

70 thoughts on “Braves 2021 Player Review: A.J. Minter”

  1. What I love about Minter is his versatility. Start a game as an opener? Check. Pitch multiple high leverage innings? Check. Pitch the 6th or 7th in a dominate bullpen? Check.
    He seems to flourish in whatever role he has been placed in recently. Let’s hope his control issues of earlier in the year are behind him and he can be effective for a few years at least. The dude has electric stuff

  2. Nice work. I’ll be interested to see how many of these player retrospectives are colored by the success of the team. In some sense, the success of the team has to be based on the success of the components, but Minter is a good example of a newfound optimism about players that, as you properly point out, Clint, was conspicuously absent before, even though Minter had stretches of brilliance earlier in his career. Would we have the same optimism about Minter if the team had just missed the playoffs? If not, why not? If the answer is no, then aren’t we just using the SSS of the playoffs far beyond what it means to a player’s future? The counter to that is that the playoffs (a) more fully demonstrate what a player is capable of (not sure I believe that); and/or (b) playoff success breeds confidence that breeds performance (maybe, but history is littered with counter-examples.)

    Will Smith is going to be an even better example.

  3. I think A.J. is one of the dudes that chimed in about the difference in no fans and fans. He went through a really rough stretch from mid-May to mid-June where he was BABIP’d to death, but a lot of that was lack of control (I’m becoming more and more convinced that many pitchers with BABIP issues are simply pitchers that get themselves into hitter’s counts regularly). When A.J. went down to get right, he really got right. From August through the playoffs, he was electric.

  4. AJ has great stuff. When he commands it he is as good as anyone. Whether he has turned the corner so that he will consistently command it and therefore consistently have the success he showed in August-October this year remains to be seen. I’m inclined to think he will—I almost always come down on the optimistic side of the ledger.

    But we also know how volatile even the best relievers can be from year to year.

    Projecting the Braves based on this past year is interesting. So many, not just Minter, struggled early and then hit their stride down the stretch. Which half of the season is entitled to more weight?

  5. Does anyone know if Mike Maroth was with the team during the playoffs? The bullpen went from super shaky all year to flat out DOMINANT. Minter was a big part of it. Whatever happened, it was incredible. The bullpen was the MVP. I hope they add one big time righty to replace Martin this winter.

    Side note: Sean Kazmar, Jr. retired. I hope the Braves have a role for him somewhere.

  6. One thing with A.J. is that much of his pre-2021 career was colored by impossible expectations. In the minor leagues, he wasn’t just tabbed as a future closer, he was literally heralded as our next Kimbrel. Nearly anyone would have wilted under those expectations. As it is, he’s turned into a good, if occasionally erratic, setup man. Like Andruw, who was blamed for years by a fanbase that was infuriated that he wasn’t actually Willie Mays, it took a long time to appreciate Minter for what he was than for what he wasn’t, but winning the World Series sure does help.

  7. @6 100% agreed. I mean, he also was bad for a long time, so even modest expectations weren’t met for a while. But who knows what effect the expectations had on him.

  8. @101 from prior thread…… LOL

    @100 I assume Koufax will always be #1. Max has a few more years to make #2 but he certainly could be the second most popular Jewish pitcher.

    As for this thread, I am not so sure that Minter had that much to “fix”. I thought and still think that Minter rides a rough edge between fantastic and horrible much like Luke can. I think his early struggles (2018 or whenever he came up) were really part of transitioning from minors to majors and, like Alex said, exceptionally high expectations. I was very high on Minter based upon his showing in the minors. He has not ever and probably will not ever through his slider for a strike. It’s a great pitch but a deception pitch. Minors hitters bit on it and many majors hitters don’t. Both he and TdA needed to learn to not throw it early in the count. When Clint says he came back throwing more FBs, that is essentially saying the same thing. He wasn’t pitching differently, only mixing his pitches differently. After he came to the majors the first time, he began working on a changeup. It was/is a devastating pitch and much more likely to be a strike. He needs to perfect it and throw it when he’s behind and the slider when he’s ahead. The slider can’t function as a changeup either because the speed difference is not big enough.

    Both Minter and Jackson have to be handled correctly for them to be successful.

    I honestly think pitch-calling affected all of our relievers when they were struggling (who didn’t struggle in the first half???). I think that changed in the second half and the playoffs.

  9. @9 I hope it is with the Braves. He worked miracles with our young pitchers. I have no faith in Kranitz, WS or not.

    @10 Let’s see how much he wants to stay with the Braves. That offer is a little light but, at his age, he isn’t going to get a 6+ year contract from a smart GM. Would love to see the Braves pivot to Correa if Freddie isn’t going to be reasonable. He’s probably out of our comfort zone financially though. I have lived with losing Dale Murphy, Maddux, and Andruw Jones. All were the correct decisions for the Braves.

  10. Honestly, I don’t want Correa. The dude is going to cost $300 million and he gets injured all the time, same as Seager. I’d rather spend half as much money and give it to Freddie, who at least stays on the field and who is worth way more to us than he is to anyone else.

  11. @Rob
    A 5 year $135MM deal for a 32 year old 1b, albeit a great one, is a pretty good offer.
    135/8MM per WAR=~17 WAR, which is 3.4/year. Add another year with $2MM less AAV/year.

    6/$150MM.

    If he doesn’t take it, let him walk.

  12. I say go as high as 6/$159 ($26.5/yr) or 7/$175 ($25/yr). I don’t think they should go to 8/$200 which is what he is reported to want. If he really wants 8 years maybe something like 8/$184 ($23/yr).

  13. @Dusty

    6/160ish would be fine, I guess. Chipper told Freddie he’d likely have to take less to stay in Atlanta, so we’ll find out if Freddie really wants to stick around Atlanta because I cannot imagine they’ll have the highest offer.

  14. I’m on board with something like 6/$160M for Freddie. 8 guaranteed years is beyond my comfort zone, though. If Freeman wants a couple of team options on the end to carry him through his Age 40 season then fine.

    I understand @CindyJ’s position that investing long term in an over-30 1B is a losing proposition… but Freddie is a great hitter and teammate and he should be a core contributor to the Braves for the foreseeable future. There’s been no discernible sign of slippage in his performance, nothing that would indicate that he’s lost a step yet. Moreover, the Braves don’t have anyone waiting in the wings to step up and be a contributor at 1B, and any FA pickup would be both fairly expensive and a downgrade from Freddie’s production. The 2022 Braves should be making win-now moves, and Freddie is a slam-dunk in that regard. Sometimes the obvious choice is also the right choice.

  15. Greetings from Knoxville, Tenn…

    As everyone knows, Minter is a guy that we’ve waited & waited & waited for. His late-season/post-season performance didn’t completely surprise me, but it definitely had me thinking, “Man, is this ever the time to figure it out.” Moving forward, I have no idea if this is who he’ll be or if he just caught/rode the lightning for max effect. Other than Game 5 of the WS, he was really something, as noted above, a big part of this title run.

    Also, seeing him celebrate the title wearing that cowboy hat, I thought he looked like Ronnie Van Zant (which I got a kick out of).

    From previous thread about ’90s Braves:
    This title and the one in 1995 are mutually exclusive to me. IMO, one has nothing to do with the other.

    That ’91-’05 run was magical & it doesn’t depress me in the slightest that they took the one title — disappointed, sure, but not at all wrecked about it. (I mean, we got to watch Greg Maddux pitch every 5th day.) But my perspective is certainly colored by living thru the Rowland Office Era & the brutal ’84-’90 period — having meaningful, late-season baseball goes a long way in my book.

  16. @19 But there has been “some” signs of slippage, primarily the fact that he was a non factor the first 2 months of the season. I know he had good stats in the playoffs, but the real heroes were Riley, Soler and Rosario. VERY slight signs but they are there.

    I am also not saying don’t sign him. I am saying there is absolutely no way he should get an 8 year deal. 6 years max. I think the Braves offer was reasonable given his age. I wouldn’t go much above it.

  17. @16 We are in agreement. I would hate to lose Freddie, but he was given a fair offer. I hope he isn’t taking advice from that freaking looking wife of his (WHAT has she done to herself – she looks like a puffed up Barbie doll now).

  18. Scott Boras is a guy who you just nod your head at as he runs his mouth at and move along. Not worth getting worked up over.

  19. @12 Scott Radinsky has a significant fanbase for off-the-field reasons. But I’d be confident putting Max as #3.

  20. If you call yourself a Braves fan and you don’t know who Tommy Holmes is, you wouldn’t understand how important it is to sign Freeman. Pay the man his money. There are easily 100,000 old men in New England who have gone the distance because of Holmes.

    If you’re into rooting for a business, pull up your stakes and go for Raytheon. They win every year.

  21. @12 Very interesting. How much of the improved game calling and success of the pen in the second half do you attribute to TdA returning from injury?

  22. @26 I’m not sure I’d attribute it to TdA returning because I thought he was breaking ball obsessed before he was injured. And I’m not sure who is really doing the game-planning for pitch sequence. I assume it was part of an analytics/coaching decision. And, as far as Minter goes, I am not discounting the benefit of working at AAA for a bit. As soon as he got there, he was lights out. I think that’s where the change in sequencing began for him. But we saw the same thing with Matzek and Smith, too.

  23. @21 Freddie’s product was below his usual standards March – May (but still above average), then he was great from June – October (capping things off with .304 / .420 / .625 in the playoffs). Overall, he ended up with an offensive line that looked almost exactly like his career averages to date – roughly .300 / .400 / .500. It would be just as easy (easier?) to say June – October 2021 is proof positive that the “real” Freddie Freeman is a 1.000 OPS guy and March-May 2021 was the fluke. The truth is that Freddie’s yearly production has been extremely steady (aside from the huge spike in 2020 alongside the entire Braves offense).

    I have a long enough memory to recall how poorly the big extensions for Miguel Cabrera and Albert Pujols played out, and it is scary to think about how if those guys (some of the best hitters of all time) could collapse suddenly in their early/mid 30s then Freddie could too. That said, I think you have to just put faith in Freddie and take the long-term risk.

  24. Pache and Michael Harris win MiLB Gold Gloves. Michael Harris has got to be the next up-and-coming star. I’d sure like to see Soler/Rosario signed for two years and Duvall for one via arbitration. Assuming Acuna is not available until May, we could have Duvall, Pache/Waters, and Rosario/Soler in the OF to begin the year with Rosario and Soler trading off at DH. In another year, we should know if Pache and Waters can play and if Harris is ready.

  25. I think Harris is more than a year away. I’d rather assume he’s a 2024 guy and then let him force his way into the lineup, rather than pencil him in a year early (like they did with Pache, or Schafer a few years back) and then be forced to scramble if he struggles.

  26. @30 I have 6 years/160M faith in Freddie……and not a penny more. If it was anyone but him, I wouldn’t even touch those numbers. Austin, Max, Ian, Ozzie and Ronald are the stars of this team now. He is an aging vet. The Braves offer was more than fair. I hope he realizes it before they move on.

    @32 I agree.

  27. @29 This isn’t hard to understand. He’s central to the team’s identity, for both the team itself and the fanbase. It doesn’t matter if he gets paid too much. Nobody will die if he gets paid “too” much. He’ll take a discount. Pay him.

    In the ’70’s when I was a kid, I joined the Boston Braves Fan Club. It was filled with guys who stayed with the team from their childhood, no matter where they went, no matter the win/loss record. They would have annual meetings in Boston. They’d get former players to come. Tommy Holmes was a god to these guys. And he would come. That’s magic.

    What makes the Braves different from any other team I can think of is that at least since Holmes, there has been someone for the fans connect with in a personal way. Holmes, Aaron, Niekro, Murphy, Chipper, and now Freddie. Cardinals? Yankees? I don’t think so.

    Pay the man.

  28. Thanks ububba. You pulled them through.

    Rece Davis likes to remember and use famous phrases of the college teams on which he reports. He loves the one you just used. I know the band has a gentler version, but it is good to continue “Ain’t nothing finer in the land, than a drunk obnoxious Georgia Fan.”

  29. I’m still on Team Blank Check for Freddie for the most part. If he wants 6/200, then see if you can chip him down to 6/180.

  30. @34 I seem to remember the Braves letting Murphy go when he wanted more money than they were willing to pay. Same with Tom Glavine, Greg Maddux, Andruw Jones, John Smoltz, etc. Those all worked out alright.

    Believe it or not, no one will “die” if another team decides to overpay Freddie either. The Braves offered him a reasonable amount. He should have accepted it.

  31. @40 – In all of the cases you mentioned Atlanta let those players go when they were significantly past their prime and showing major signs of decline. This isn’t the case with Freeman, I don’t think they are that far apart, and I don’t see it happening.

  32. @40. You’re wrong about Murphy, Cindy. He didn’t leave because of money. He requested a trade because he knew he was in decline.

  33. About the only example I can think of when Atlanta got rid of an elite player just barely past his prime but still with some very productive years left was David Justice to Cleveland. Schuerholz decided we could only afford big contracts for the big 3 pitchers. As hard as it was to let Justice walk, given the choice, I think the right decision was made. Again, this isn’t a similar dilemma.

  34. #37
    Well, I behaved myself, for the most part.

    It wasn’t quite like Notre Dame back in 2017, but there was still a good 40,000+ UGA people at this game &, yeah, they kinda took over the town Fri/Sat (or at least the Market Square area).

    Knoxville’s a really nice town, btw. Sweet P’s BBQ gets a big thumbs-up.

    On to ATL…

  35. @45 – Yes! And it looks like another Bama rematch. I think it’s our time this time.

    As to the ongoing debate on Freddie and whether to resign or let him walk because of possible decline:

    First off, no one is going to die regardless of the outcome. But there will be a real PR hit if Atlanta lets him walk. He is the face of the franchise after a decade and no matter how many young faces we have to root for (and thank goodness for that) Freddie is the team Captain. And I agree with others, he is not in decline. The first two months were not unlike other seasons in which he started slowly. By the end, his numbers were in line with where they have been for years (and likely to be for the next years.)

    I too disagree that a one to one comparison between Freeman at this point and the other greats of the past is not reality. A point in favor of such an argument may well be Glavine who was an All Star and had just gone 18-11 with a 2.96 ERA in 2002. Aging, however and had just had 3 seasons of ERAs over 3.40.

    For the others, they were all clearly in decline. Maddux decided to accept that QO after 2002 (and flummoxed Scherholtz who I seem to recall thought he would not) and then went 16-11 with a 3.96 ERA in 2003. Smoltz went 3-2 with a 2.57 in just 28 innings in 2008 before he left. Andruw hit .222 in 2007 and was clearly in decline. And indeed Murphy was hitting .232 at the time of the trade to the Phillies in 1990. I’ll throw out another franchise icon – Henry Aaron. He was traded to Milwaukee after the 1974 season in which he hit .268 with 20 HR and 69 RBI in only 340 at bats. Maybe some juice left in that tank, but he was 40 by then.

    I understand the risk inherent at giving a long contract to a player over the hump of 30 years old. It can play out any number of ways and I’m certain those risk adverse are looking at the Pujols history. I’d like to offer another potential example – that of Frank Robinson. Cincinnati thought he was already washed up at only 29 and just 4 years away from his MVP season. What did he do? Averaged a .300/.401/.543 stat line for 6 years in Baltimore and won another MVP. He would of course have a decline soon after that and so yes, more than a six year contract is dubious. But as others have said, front load the contract, put in some options, and make sure he gets paid fairly for what he has done and will likely do in the near future.

    And as has been suggested (and asked) who else is likely to give that production at 1st if not him? Riley is not the answer. Sorry. Nor do we have anyone in the pipeline ready. Nor is their anyone in the FA market that I’d rather have, all things being equal. Freddie is worth more than just his talents on the field. And while business is and will always be a cold beast, he deserves to be paid for not just his talents but his willingness to go through the wilderness to reach this pinnacle. While he still has legs as a player, you pay the man. It’s just a matter of numbers and years. Get it done and let’s move on from what seems a no brainer.

  36. I’ve always wondered what would have happened if we traded Smoltz instead of Justice.

    Justice had great 97 and 00 seasons and then was basically out of baseball. Smoltz was good from 97-98 but was hurt in 99 and missed all of 00. He was great as a closer and surprisingly good as a starter again, but those teams weren’t as elite as those in the 90’s.

    If you’re trying to maximize that 90’s title window was keeping Justice the better option? I also wonder what happens if we trade McGriff, move Klesko to first full time and keep Justice.

    To put it mildly, I don’t think many of Schuerholz’s trades hold up at all.

  37. Murphy was traded in large part to open up RF for Justice – who had been playing out of position at 1B. Glavine is really the only “franchise” guy who we let walk over $$ while he was still highly productive. Justice was traded for $$ reasons as well so maybe you can lump him in with Glavine. Maybe Heyward would be a sort-of more recent example?

    I’m for paying Freddie whatever he wants. It’s only money, and it’s not mine.

  38. I was wrong about Murphy (I was young then), but Jones and Glavine hit the mark perfectly. The point I continue to make is that Freddie is past his prime years of production. So many of these long term contracts bust. Look at the Brewers now with what looks like an awful Yelich contract. He was younger and a much better player than Freddie. You guys are letting your homer nature cloud your judgment. Good teams with good GMs don’t make long term business decisions because a player is a nice guy and the fans love him. The Cardinals were right to let an aging Pujols walk and he’s one of the best players in mlb history. The Yankees were right to let Cano walk. Losing Harper didn’t prevent the Nats from winning a WS. The Braves were right to let Andruw Jones walk so many years ago.

    Freddie should be fine, barring an injury, for the next 3 – 4 years with the expected age related decline. I would frontload his contract so that year 6 is no more than 10M. Max value 160M. The team is taking an enormous risk giving one player in his decline phase that much money. They need the money to extend Max, Ian, Austin as well as sign other free agents over the next 6 years.

    I think Freddie is getting really bad advice. GMs are smarter now…..I don’t see him getting anywhere close to what he wants. He might wait too long…AA isn’t going to wait all winter to fill out the roster. At least he shouldn’t. They need to sign some outfielders.

  39. Is anyone else shocked at how well Riley did at 3B this year. I see whining about Dansby not being one of the SS Gold Glove finalists. He had a -7 DRS this year so it wasn’t a snub. The REAL snub was Riley. He went from being not very good defensively to a +13 DRS. He was absolutely snubbed to the point Braves fans and his own manager didn’t notice it. Wash worked miracles with him.

  40. Freddie’s 2021 numbers are right in line with his career averages and he’s a year removed from being NL MVP. At 32, sure, we’d expect some age-related decline over the course of his next contract, especially as he reaches late 30s. How steep a decline? Who knows. Could be Pujols-esque, could be Chipper Jones-esque (I.e. still a really good hitter). Dude’s been among the most consistent hitters in MLB for a long time, though.

    I was at Game 4. After the first inning my sisters decided to go stand in line to get in the Clubhouse Store. They returned 4 1/2 innings later, having spent most of that time waiting in line for the privilege of spending exorbitant sums of $$ on Braves gear, a huge chunk of which had Freddie Freeman’s name on it. Letting that guy get away because he might be overpaid six years from now is not a good business decision. For every Pujols there’s a Barry Bonds.

  41. Is that true? What’s the actual ratio of Pujols’s to Bonds’s? The real answer here (outside of the PR/team leadership issues) depends critically on that ratio. I haven’t really ever looked at the age-performance curve since the classic stuff Bill James wrote back in the ’80s. I’m sure a ton of work has been done since then with relevant covariates and more precise predictions. And I’m sure the Braves have access to all of it and have drawn conclusions from it. That doesn’t mean the negotiations go away; it just means that they have a position (that they’re not revealing) on what they can pay for performance alone. Then you have to price in the the PR debacle/team leadership considerations.

  42. @53, truthfully I have no idea. Just a turn of phrase. Pujols gets talked about a lot in this context, but Bonds happened too.

  43. Thanks for the honesty. I don’t know either! But doesn’t it make a difference whether there are 4 Pujols for every Bonds or 4 Bonds for every Pujols?

    Lots of teams make terrible decisions in paying for outyears, and some teams make good decisions. And sometimes production isn’t everything. (See my point above re: PR and leadership.)

    But if you trust AA, you trust AA, who knows a lot more about this than you do or I do.

    Just to be clear: I want to sign Freddie. I’m willing to overpay because it isn’t my money, so long as the mistakes don’t lead to five years of terrible teams because of presumed financial constraints. All I’m saying is that AA has a view by now, based on evidence and his view of these markets, and no amount of ruminating and importuning of fans, or even Dansby Swanson, will do much to change it… (Again, after taking the effects of the fans’ view and Dansby Swanson’s view into account.)

  44. Nolan Arenado got the platinum glove? I’m not totally sure he even deserved the Gold Glove. The NL didn’t have a lot of elite defenders this year though.

  45. @52 you need to stop referencing that MVP from 2020. It was a flippin’ 60 game season. Anyone could have won it. It was cool and all but it’s not like it was a 162 game MVP.

    Bonds? He had a little “assistance”. Compare his aging curve to that of Bobby Bonilla, who came through the Pirates organization with him. One juiced, one didn’t. Let’s also not compare Freddie to Chipper (1st ballot HOF), a 7 win 3B in his prime. Freddie, by virtue of his age, is in his decline phase.

    @55 I trust AA too. I agree, I want the Braves to re-sign Freddie but not to the point that it hurts the franchise in the long term. Chipper, a truly great player, took less money so the Braves could build a better team around him.

    Let’s talk about other free agents. Would love to see the Braves get Starling Marte. He’s 33 but won’t demand a long term contract. Can play all 3 OF positions, great baserunner, solid hitter. Fangraphs says 2 years/50M. That seems high but he is coming off of a career year. I would say 3/55.

  46. I don’t think we know that Bonilla didn’t juice. We do know that most players of that era used PEDs, so it’s generally a safe assumption.

    Also, Yelich’s massive decline wasn’t just getting old. It was specifically due to injury. Same with Bellinger, for that matter.

    Freddie’s big, tall, and slow, with a history of back problems, so if anyone’s likely to get old quickly, it’s him. I think Todd Helton, or Votto, is probably the best comparison. But the thing is, I genuinely believe that all that is already priced into his market value. And just like Helton – and Votto – I think he’s likely to retain his high OBP (like Chipper, too) and remain a productive hitter by rate stats well into his 30s.

  47. Chipper is a great example of a guy whose production didn’t strictly follow a predictable curve. If you looked at him at age 32, you’d think he was already in steep decline, and had been since age 28.

    Then he put up 7 WAR and won a batting title at age 36.

    The point isn’t to suggest that Freddie is as good as Chipper. The point is that Freddie, thus far, is not in decline and has been as close to a sure thing each year as anyone in MLB. Father Time is undefeated so no doubt FF will decline as well, but he hasn’t yet. It’s reasonable to expect that he would decline to some degree over a 5-6 year contract, but not to expect him to become Dan Uggla next Thursday.

  48. A bad team like Florida beat Tennessee by as many as Georgia did. Bama’s a good squad. Georgia’s got to get that passing attack figured out.

  49. I’m tapping out on the endless Freddie arguments. Everyone knows where everyone stands and we are all just repeating ourselves . We ALL want Freddie to re-sign.

    I would rather discuss other baseball related topics. Other potential free agents? I think it’s a no doubter that Duvall comes back. I mentioned Marte. They need a lefty though if Freddie does leave. I don’t see them as players for Seager. He doesn’t fit for the Braves because of his poor SS defense.

  50. @50

    Well, AA is going to wait all winter to fill out the roster, most likely. All GMs will be doing so, in all probability, because there’s likely to be a lockout that lasts at least until it starts to threaten spring training.

  51. First of all, I’m not sure if 6/200 is true. Second of all, I don’t think anyone will give Freddie that much. I think 6/180 is absolute tops, but I’m thinking they’ll settle for 6/160.

  52. #60
    That’s not necessarily indicative of anything. Tennessee lost to Florida, which lost to Kentucky, which lost to Tennessee, etc.

    It’s very often about matchups & about when you play a team — for example, that Tennessee game was well before Florida quit on the season.

    Bama’s good. We know that. If UGA can get a half-dozen sacks on them, like it did with UT, they should be alright. Gonna be a great matchup.

  53. Things heating up for Eduardo Rodriguez at the winter meetings…..many teams interested. Hopefully the Braves aren’t one of them.

  54. @60 @65 Bama is a good team, but Georgia is better. By any measure (especially on defense) Georgia is head and shoulders above everyone else. Bama does not have enough weapons (or game plan) to break the Georgia defense. I think it ends up like the Clemson-Georgia game. Low scoring affair where Georgia’s offense outplays Alabama’s defense more than Alabama’s offense outplays Georgia’s defense.

    Outside of that Clemson game, no one has come close to challenging Georgia this year.

  55. Rodriguez is off the board, but seems like a pretty affordable contract — what do you not like about him?

  56. @68 I worry about the heart condition. He also had a hard time going more than four innings last year.

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