Braves 2021 Player Review: Sean Kazmar, Jr.

That was back in 2019. He ended his career with 8 MLB hits and 1613 MiLB hits.

Perseverance is an admirable trait. Like all admirable traits, it can be taken well past the point where it serves you well. My wife, who spent a career in the theater, would always counsel anyone who wanted to act for a living to just go for it, so long as there was absolutely nothing else you wanted to do with your life. Because if there was, the frustrations of embarking on an acting career would eat you alive if you thought it was a choice you made, instead of something you had to do.

Sean Kazmar, Jr. is now 37 years old, and has just retired. I assume most of you on Braves Journal know his story. If you don’t, read the link in the previous sentence. Since his 46 plate appearances as a 23 year old in 2008 (which followed post-college stops in Fort Wayne, Eugene, Lake Elsinore, West Oahu, San Antonio and Peoria) with the Padres, he played in Portland, Tacoma, Buffalo and Binghamton before taking up a 8 year residency in Gwinnett County. Ozzie Albies played 153 games for Gwinnett at second base in 2016 and 2017. Sean Kazmar Jr. played 155 games at second in Gwinnett. Austin Riley played 119 games at 3rd base in Gwinnett. Sean Kazmar, Jr. played 137. Dansby Swanson played 11 games at shortstop in Gwinnett.  Sean Kazmar, Jr. played 300 games at shortstop there. Just think about all the people Sean Kazmar, Jr. has watched passing through Gwinnett on the way to The Show.

Sean got back to the major leagues this year. On April 17th, he grounded into a double play in a game the Braves lost 13-4. Three days later, he was inserted as a pinch runner and stranded on third. Finally, he was recalled on May 5th, pinch hit for Edgar Santana and grounded out to 3rd. That is a cWPA of slightly under 0, but let’s just round it to 0. He will almost certainly not earn a full playoff share, but he may well earn a share that more than doubles his Gwinnett salary for 2021. That shouldn’t be hard. Does a guy who was there three days get a ring? It’s not my money, but I’d give him one. He’s not Moonlight Graham, but he’s about as close as the Braves have.

Yip Harburg was not a baseball player, even though he sounds like a member of the ’40s Dodgers. He was a song lyricist, writing, among other things, the words to the songs in Finian’s Rainbow and The Wizard of Oz. He liked one lyric so much that he put it in both: in both “Look to the Rainbow” (from Finian’s Rainbow) and “Follow the Yellow Brick Road” (from The Wizard of Oz) he wrote:

Follow the fellow who follows a dream.

Yip Harburg, twice

We’re still following you Sean, whatever you do next. I hope Sean is proud of what he tried to do, and best of luck in the next chapter, whether in the Braves organization or elsewhere.

Author: JonathanF

Alive since 1956. Braves fan since 1966. The first ten years were pretty much wasted. Exiled to Yankees/Mets territory in 1974 --- bearable only with TBS followed by MLB.TV.

32 thoughts on “Braves 2021 Player Review: Sean Kazmar, Jr.”

  1. I hope that the Braves offer him a job somewhere in the organization. He has earned it. Hope he gets a WS ring too.

  2. Good article Jonathan! Boy, what a career Sean’s had. Can’t help but feel bad that he didn’t get the MLB playing time he wanted, but hey, at least he got to play baseball for 20 years! I imagine he played a vital role in mentoring all our young talented infielders who came up through Gwinnett.

  3. I’m very torn about this post. Objectively speaking, it was a horrible decision for Sean Kazmar Jr. to continue to try to be a major league baseball player. He spent more time trying than almost every single human in the history of the sport, and he largely came up with absolutely nothing. Those are all facts. And all of us have had to come to grips with something that we enjoyed that we weren’t going to excel at. For me, it was also baseball, and for all of us, it could be anything. The clarinet, maybe.

    My brother is also 37 years old, though he’s in an industry where you can bloom MUCH later in life. He’s a stand-up comedian, so he could “hit it big” any time. And in some ways, that makes the decision to walk away more excruciating. At least, at 37 years old, there are no delusions of grandeur any further for Kazmar. But for my brother, heck, he might just be getting started, right?

    When I was in my 20’s, I was not a good brother to my brother. I told him to quit. You see, he started doing comedy when he was 18, and I was a good little boy that went to college, graduated, worked a nice little job where I could put a tie around my neck. And nowadays, Lord willing, I’ve worked hard enough and did enough things correctly that I might retire one day with a few coins in my pocket. And he was sleeping on couches, living on the road, and living a nocturnal life in dives.

    3 years ago, my brother hit what is currently his high water mark. He got on Conan:

    I’m a huge homer, but I think my brother is very funny, so I recommend giving that a listen. When I saw him on Conan that night, I cried because I knew that I had completely blown it. I told this guy to quit. I was clearly wrong. But more importantly, who was I to tell him he didn’t have what it took? And he was right there.

    Since then, he’s chugging along. He has another CD out, he won the Big Sky Comedy Festival (pretty big out west), and he apparently almost got on America’s Got Talent this past year. Apparently Simon Cowell told him he was his pick for that spot. They’re telling him he’s going to be on in the next couple seasons or something like that. He’s finally paying the bills, though obviously Covid has hurt and continues to hurt his industry tremendously. But he’s right there, he’s been right there, and I’m glad he never listened to idiots like me that did the “normal” and “right” thing. Plus, the dude’s a nut job, and you have to be a nut job to persevere in that industry to reach stardom. I think it’s his best quality.

    Anyway, I just wanted to share that story about my brother because Sean Kazmar has objectively made a bad decision that clearly almost no one else would have made. But I hope he doesn’t have any regrets. As Garth says, he could have missed the pain, but he’d have missed The Dance. I think these stories of guys like Kazmar and to a lesser extent Lane Adams will always take my mind and heart here.

  4. Rob, I’m going to fall back on my wife’s advice. If being a comedian is all your brother wants to do, then he can’t possibly be making any kind of mistake. In addition, comedian and actor, unlike baseball player, has no effective age limit. Bob Newhart and Jackie Mason are two guys who went into comedy very late and very successfully.

    And it’s great your brother is now starting to find success, But we’ll never be able to answer the question: was it worth it? without understanding the alternatives, which are no better than guesses… ever. But if we’re reasonably sure the alternative is misery about the comedic (or baseball) career you might have had, no matter how successful your alternative career, the the harder road is always the best decision.

  5. @3 Hey Rob- You shared his performance here before if I remember correctly? I thought he was funny then and he is funny now. Takes a special type of personality to do what he does and most of us aren’t nearly tough enough for it.

    Kudos to you for admitting you were wrong about his direction and kudos to Chris for sticking with it.

  6. Kazmar is not Moonlight Graham. Kazmar is Crash Davis, especially if he gets into coaching. I wonder how many boy wonders he helped with their “interview techniques”. Such a similar profile all the way down to stat counting (with Davis it was HRs; with Kamar it’s hits)

  7. This has the story of one of my friend’s dad. I haven’t read it, but I bet it’s an interesting book. I think there are 40 different stories like this. My friend’s Dad had a great minor league career but struck out in his only major league at bat. It’s available on Amazon.

    Once around the bases : bittersweet memories of only one game in the majors
    by Tellis, Richard, 1930-

  8. I agree with @4, even though I have to admit that if I were Kazmar’s brother, I might have said the same thing Rob did.

    At the end of the day, he played baseball for four decades, and got paid to do it. If his dream was to be a household name, he came up short. But if his dream was to be a baseball player, then his dream came true.

    I hope the next chapter of his life is fulfilling and rewarding, too.

  9. @7: Yes and no. The real Crash Davis https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crash_Davis had over 400 MLB at bats, followed by WWII, followed by 6 years in the minors and he never got back. Graham https://www.baseball-reference.com/register/player.fcgi?id=graham001arc had 8 years in the minors, 1 MLB at-bat and then 3 more years in the minors. I’m still going to say that in terms of minor-league longevity combined by a sip of coffee (actually a cup of coffee and then a sip of coffee 13 years later) , Kazmar is closer to Graham than Davis.

  10. The more modern Davis would be Mike Hessman — 250 major league PA, with various cups of coffee in 2003-4, 2007-8, and 2010, and 433 minor league homers. At the end of his career, he finally went to Japan, where he probably could have made tens of millions of dollars if he’d gone there as a young man, like Roberto Petagine or Tuffy Rhodes or Wladimir Balentien.

    Not quite a comparison for Kazmar, other than his longevity. Hessman had 8566 PA in the minors, not counting his time in Japan, almost 25% more than Kazmar’s 6895.

    Of course, there’s the case of Joe Bauman, the man who hit 72 homers in Class C Roswell in 1954, but who barely ever got a chance in the upper minors, and nary a single appearance in the Show.

    Celebrate ’em all, I’d say! But then spit three times, throw some salt over your shoulder, and give Freddie a damned sixth year and sip some stale champagne. We’re the defending World Champs, for crying out loud!

  11. @12 Idunno. I think Bauman sounds more like Sandy Grimes…..
    “This is Sandy Grimes. Sandy Grimes hit .371 in Louisville in 1967.”
    “.376.”
    “I’m sorry. He hit .376. That’s a career, man. In any league.”

  12. Verlander signs 25M deal with the Astros plus an option year. Yikes.

    Robbie Ray gets the AL Cy Young. I really don’t get that. NL Cy young is next. Hope Burnes gets it. As long as Scherzer doesn’t get it I will be ok.

  13. Burnes got it. Philly fans will be outraged. It was VERY close with Wheeler. Both had a good claim for it.

  14. I would’ve gone Wheeler because honestly I think IP are just THAT important. But Burnes was pretty exceptional. Good thing it’s a regular season award, though.

  15. @20 Would love to see an extension for Max too. I would rather extend him than sign a guy coming off of an injury like Verlander or Thor.

  16. With Kazmar, he chased his dream. Good for him. Was it wasted? Only he and his family can decide. I would assume about 6-7 years ago he realized he wasn’t going to be on a 40 man roster for an extended time.

    While AAA players aren’t making bank, for him to hang around across town for seven years like that, I am sure the Braves probably paid him more than the AAA minimum.

  17. @23: Does anyone know if he had a side gig? I know even Chuck James worked for Lowe’s in the off-season.

  18. @24

    Who knows? I know he has kids and I assume he isn’t homeless. His wife may make good money.

    The way he kept coming back to the Braves organization on MiLB deals every year leads me to believe the Braves valued him over there and probably made it worth it to him.

  19. I think you have to have some kind of valuable skill to hang around as MILB filler for a long time. Lots of guys get summarily released and don’t latch on elsewhere. Maybe Kazmar has a good disposition for a future coaching/managerial gig.

  20. I love the Kazmar story and JonathonF’s recap of him (and Rob’s analogy to his brother–wonderful!).

    The fictional Crash Davis is an excellent comp for many reasons, but especially in that Kazmar like Davis has undoubtedly been relied upon for mentoring of young players. I hope that, like Crash, he goes onto coaching/managing. OTOH, given what we know about Kazmar’s family life, I suspect an Annie Savoy character is not part of the comp.

  21. Heard this morning that the Yankees are in on the Freeman sweepstakes and willing to look at that $200MM figure. Don’t know about the years. No need to rehash the already argued points. Just reporting what I heard on Atlanta radio.

  22. @28 I would think they would be more interested in the big shortstops. My guess is that they are playing games of some sort. Who knows though.

  23. I am absolutely certain they want one of the shortstops as pretty clear that Gleyber is not the long-term solution at SS. But the Yankees always like making a splash, and I’m sure they also like the idea of making other teams sweat.

  24. Can anybody understand what Peanut is saying here? Do I need more coffee?

    I just don’t see how the Braves win, at least over the next 4-5 years, if Freeman signs elsewhere.

    I mention 4-5 years because I understand teams have to be fiscally responsible when committing nearly $30 million per year to a seasoned veteran like Freeman, who will experience his 32-year-old season next year.

    https://view.mail.mlblists.com/messages/16371776753081bd531263018/raw

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