Braves 2021 Player Review: Abraham Almonte

When you depend on Abraham Almonte as your Replacement, you probably lose.

A number of people don’t much care for the concept of the “replacement player.”  One reason is rhetorical: replacement players are really good baseball players!  This troubles some people, though it really shouldn’t.  John Smoltz is a great golfer, but he is far short of the level of performance needed to play on the senior tour. 

Abraham Almonte is a replacement level player.  In 9 years with six teams, he had exactly 1 season in excess of 1 WAR (1.1, in 2015 with the then-Indians) and the rest of his career between -0.8 and 0.7 WAR.  Since WAR is a counting stat, it’s hard to get (or lose) a lot of WAR if you don’t play much.  Almonte has never had 200 plate appearances in a season.

Last year, Abraham Almonte was brought in to replace Marcell Ozuna.  He played left field for June and July.  When the new outfield was acquired, he only once had more than one at-bat in a game.  This is essentially proof that he was playing left field in June and July because we had no one else to do it.  He accumulated -0.8 WAR in that time, the worst season of his career.

But Abraham Almonte is not a bad baseball player.  He’s only a forgettable player when compared with really good baseball players.  His high water mark in his entire 9 year career (by cWPA) came on July 28th, just before he became completely expendable.  Down 2-1 in the top of the 9th, leading off against the Mets Edwin Diaz, he hit a double to put the tying run on second base.  He was stranded when Heredia, Adrianza and Sandoval made outs, although that was the Panda’s last really good stroke… a line drive snagged in the gap in his penultimate at-bat that would have tied the game had it dropped.  So the Braves lost that game, as they did so many in which they were hoping for greatness from Almonte, Heredia, Adianza and Sandoval.  But that double had a cWPA of 0.25%.  The fact that it didn’t lead to a win says a lot about the Braves’ midseason woes. The fact that the single most important play in your career (per cWPA) actually doesn’t contribute to your team’s chances at all is more than a little poignant.

Almonte is a free agent.  If you’re looking to tread water while someone is recovering from an injury, or waiting for the real reinforcements to arrive, he’s about as good as anyone else could be.  Good for him.

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.

65 thoughts on “Braves 2021 Player Review: Abraham Almonte”

  1. Sometimes, there’s a man, well, he’s the man for his time and place. He fits right in there.

  2. Trying to tread carefully after watching the Ozuna video. What is shown seems to be a far cry from what was reported at the time. Given that the victim (Genesis) has been charged with domestic violence just a year earlier against Ozuna, I’m just not sure this is as clear cut as your typical domestic violence case and I think that is reflected in the length of suspension.

    I would like to hear some contrition publicly from Marcell, but I am 50/50 now whether he will play for Atlanta again and a week ago, I would have given him a 10% chance if that.

    I was honestly ready to move on from him as I do with any other offenders of this sort, but I don’t see this case the same as say Chapman, Russell or Osuna.

    Maybe I am just looking through rose colored glasses here since Marcell is a Brave, I don’t know.

  3. I think we’re on the hook for Ozuna, and it will be hard to trade him. Better get used to the idea of him.

    It got overlooked yesterday with the non tender of Rodriguez, but Duvall did get a contract tender.

  4. @2
    I’m in the same camp Dusty. I would move on from him more so because that relationship is toxic and something even worse is going to happen.

    There is a lot more room for interpretation from that video that was originally reported.

  5. I just saw the TMZ video of Ozuna. Please don’t get me wrong, I’m not excusing it in any way, but it was not anywhere near as bad as what I thought it would be. I didn’t link it but you can do a simple search for TMZ Marcell Ozuna.

  6. The Ozuna video is still pretty stinking bad. He didn’t have her up against a wall as was originally reported. However, he had his hand around her throat and was shoving her backwards. Who knows what would have happened had the police not showed up when they did. I think it’s ridiculous that he didn’t serve any time in jail and mlb just looked the other way. Someone is going to end up dead in that relationship.

  7. Alex summed up my feelings precisely in the last thread. If Freddie goes because he got a huge offer from LA or NYY that the Braves couldn’t match, then so be it. But if he leaves on a 6/180 contract or so, all because Atlanta wouldn’t offer him a 6th year or bridge a 10-20 million dollar gap, then that wouldn’t feel right. Time will tell.

    With the lockout imminent I’m not sure what there’ll be to discuss. I’m not looking forward to endlessly talking about Freddie’s contract. Probably have to take a break and re-watch the World Series, and wait for the new CBA to be signed.

  8. Finally watched the Ozuna video.

    -Umm, who is the guy in the grey sweatshirt? Why is he watching all this and not doing anything? If he’s not worried, does that say anything about how we should be feeling about all of this?
    -Are Mr. Ozuna’s knickers very too low?
    -I don’t like these police officers. They reinforce the stereotypes about police officers that are common in our society.

    But yes, the video is not how it was presented originally, so there’s that. But I’m very happy that I get to, as a fan, just say that Marcell Ozuna should go far, far away so as to not incur the wrath of my peers instead of being the person who has to make the decision about what to do with the tens of millions of dollars owed to Ozuna that belongs to my boss.

    Friggin’ mess, man.

  9. I prefer Stroman, but Gray would have been fine too. The elite free agent starters are gone now.

  10. Kyle Wright is deserving to get a chance in the rotation without being messed with. That being said, you can’t have enough arms.

  11. I knew it was coming, but the lock out still stinks. I guess that means we’ll have to wait for arbitration cases now too.

  12. Melancon signed with the D-Backs for 2 years, $14M. Assuming Kirby’s double Tommy’s hit, I think I’d rather have Kirby at $4.25M per and $2.75M to throw at lottery tickets for the pen.

    Man, I really wish they had gotten a deal done with Freddie before the lockout. Pretty wild that Soler, Rosario, and Pederson all go into career limbo for the foreseeable future. Dozens and dozens of players that have no idea what they’re doing for a long time.

  13. @20 I agree. I feel like the longer this continues the larger chance some of the Dodgers people get with Freddie and convince him to stay out west. That, plus the fact he will be sitting home in the immediate future and getting comfortable again in Cali with his family with potentially no end in sight. I fear the Braves missed their chance and now the scales might tip the other way a bit more now.

  14. @21 I think he lives in Atlanta. Chelsea has her real estate business and whatnot, so I would think they live there full-time. But you’re right; the more time passes, spending time at home for the holidays, this ain’t good.

    Johan Camargo signed with the Phillies. I hope he can have a great career. I was very, very wrong about Camargo.

  15. Yeah, this is Manfred’s legacy. He couldn’t preserve the labor peace because – amazingly! – he has less credibility than Bud Selig.

    Fire the man.

  16. @19 – Several are eligible but we don’t have the figures outside of Arcia and Heredia who agreed to their contracts. They tendered a contract to Duvall, but we don’t have the number yet (that I can see.) All of that seems to come to a halt now. Teams are not allowed to deal with their players (or any other players) while in the lock out.

    Just a sh$t show, as far as I see it. I agree with Alex above – Manfred needs to go.

  17. Manfred wasn’t hired to preserve labor peace. He was hired to kick the shit out of the players in labor negotiations. If he does that, he’ll be commissioner for as long as he wants it. If he fails, by allowing the players to claw back some of their losses from the last 2-3 CBAs, the owners will dump him and look for someone who can.

    That’s the extent of his role. He’s there to break the union, not be an impartial mediator or steward of the game.

  18. @28 – I think that is a very astute point. It goes against the “ideal” of what a commissioner is supposed to be, but we all know that the role of Commish has and always will be a tool of the owners, none more so than Selig before Manfred. Some tried to stand “above” but always ended up siding with the owners (or at least screwing up the works like Kuhn.)

    The players union will never be broken. It is the strongest (and most successful) union in the history of that idea. At some point, the PTB need to realize it is not a zero sum game and wealth can be spread all around. This stance of “yours or mine” harms the game itself. I’m not on either side because I think both sides are selfish for their own reasons. In the end, the public will decide and if they keep playing at this, and like this, the public will check out. They did after 1994. And they will again.

  19. I think it’s been discussed here before, but baseball (and professional sports in general) has a problem that may not have a clean solution. Unlike almost all other professions, baseball players command high future salaries as, seemingly, a reward for past performance when (as CindyJ often and accurately points out) their skills are diminishing without the assistance of certain injectables. And, like all companies in existence, the teams don’t want to reverse that pyramid and lay down the dollars for an unproven commodity. So…what do we do? Do the teams have players sign contracts with significant performance bonuses that kick in but have a lower AAV?

    Personally, I like that. You could even make the bonuses have a cliff, of sorts, that pay out at a higher rate if the performance is sustained over a body of work or at a later time in service. Also, the teams would only be paying out if their folks perform individually well or win titles as a team, which can lead to flags flying, which leads to higher revenue, which leads to ownership gladly signing checks after hanging said flags.

    Or…do the franchise players like Freddie agree to some sort of base salary that’s something like $5 million a year but then has a percentage of team revenue built in like in Hollywood movies? If the team is chided to #PayTheMan because fans are going to show up to see him, why shouldn’t he reap some of that?

  20. @30

    Every sport, even the ones with a mega-hard salary cap, underpays players in their prime and overpay players in their decline phase. That happens in the NFL all the time, there’s just a mechanism for opening up a trap door under that player, writing them a check for a pre-arranged guaranteed amount to buy them out, and recouping some salary cap relief. But overall, underpay-early-overpay-late is kind of how the world works. You can’t make the players accept all risk and the owners accept none.

  21. @28, absolutely true. But the fact that his owner-bosses are pleased with the mess he’s making, and the fact that he’s taking all the incoming fire on their behalf — just like Roger Goodell — does not change the fact that he sucks at his job and should be fired on those objective grounds.

    They want to hire a stooge who sucks at his job, and they want that because they too, in their turn, suck.

  22. And the players, too, apparently want a stooge who isn’t very good at his job to take incoming fire and make idiotic proclamations to the press. The small difference, I suppose, is that nobody is suffering under the delusion that the executive director of the MLBPA should be operating with anything other than the union’s interests at heart, but the fact remains that he sucks. It’s not gonna happen unless the players push for it, and even then probably not, but I wonder if there would be any appetite for a head of baseball that is voted on by both the owners and the players. Call him commissioner and either fire Manfred or demote him to head of the owners’ association or something, call him the CEO, whatever…that would be a real positive step IMO, but I’m not sure the players want that, either.

  23. Over the last 6-7 years I think the Players’ Union is at it’s weakest point ever. Tony Clark is weak. Manfred knows this and is going for the kill. The owners don’t give a damn about baseball 25-50 years from now, most of them will be dead.

  24. I never really thought the allegiance of the baseball commissioner was that obvious until Selig took over. Prior to that they at least looked semi impartial. Once he left the owners box and went to HQ it was pretty obvious where he aligned himself.

  25. @32, does he suck, from the owners’ perspective? The last two CBAs have been major windfalls for them. Manfred could show his ass nightly on national TV and I think the owners would still keep him on and congratulate him for a job well done as long as the next CBA went as well for them.

    He’s obviously terrible as a commissioner for anyone who doesn’t personally own an MLB team, but thus far he’s achieved exactly what they’ve asked of him.

    As for player compensation, all I’ll say about that is that too many fans have played armchair GM for so long that they’ve internalized the front office logic that the worst thing a team can do is allocate its payroll suboptimally. It’s not the end of the world if a guy makes more than he’s strictly worth or is paid based on past accomplishments rather than present performance. Some things are more important than maximum agility.

  26. Every single one of us works for the person who signs the checks we deposit at the bank. Mr. Manfred is no different. Doesn’t mean we have to like him, but he’s just doing his job.

  27. I mean, the purpose of his job is pretty objectively terrible. He wakes up in the morning with the explicit objective of screwing over workers for the profit of billionaires. It would be entirely reasonable to dislike him even if he was the nicest, most well-intentioned man to ever walk the earth.

  28. Also, if his job is to further the interests of the owners above all else, fine…just rename and reframe the job so it doesn’t seem like his real job is caretaker of baseball when it’s explicitly not.

  29. Rob, I respectfully disagree. At any job, operational people who are close to the ground are in position to know if the tactics their managers prefer will serve the ultimate strategy, or detract from it. If they’re wrong, they need to trust that their direct reports will give them honest feedback. If they don’t want honesty, the job isn’t worth having.

    At the end of the day, baseball’s lack of younger fans is pretty close to an existential threat. The need to grow the game’s audience is, to me, the most important strategic goal for anyone charged with running the league. It’s just like managing for long-term growth instead of just focusing on the next quarter’s return.

    If Major League Baseball turns into General Electric, they’ll have no one to blame but themselves.

  30. The Athletic had a very good article about the new lawyer the union brought in, this guy is a stud. They learned that Clark was no match for the owners and changed tactics.

  31. @40 I agree with all that, but I feel like that’s a separate issue. The Commissioner of MLB has a lot of responsibilities, and the particular responsibility he’s being criticized for right now is working for the people who sign his checks. I’m confident that the owners and the commish don’t want the game to die, but that’s a separate issue, and I don’t think that’s going to be fixed during the CBA negotiations.

    I do think it would be an interesting discussion to consider if baseball is dying or not, and my hypothesis is that it’s not. But regardless, I don’t think the decamillionaires/centimillionaires (some within ear of being billionaires themselves) and the billionaires fighting over how much of the pie they deserve is just not something I’m going to get worked up about. I think the commissioner is right to just let them all fight it out now and let them get it out of their system. Ok fine, maybe there’s an extra percent for the players to get or the owners to take. Genuinely couldn’t care less.

  32. @39

    I think that’s another issue too: it’s not his only job to look out for the owners. He’s looking out for the owners, but I think he’s also trying to look out for the game itself. For instance, would we not all agree that if the owners locked the players out for an entire year, they would gain a competitive advantage? Obviously they would take a revenue hit, but that would probably crush the players and give the owners a huge labor advantage for a long time, no? So who is keeping that from happening? The commissioner.

    The commissioner is also over just about every aspect of the sport. I don’t think his sole job is to get the owners more money.

  33. @41–yes, that article made clear that they hired this guy to be tougher in negotiations. The players believe (rightly, I think) that the owners got the better of them in the last couple of negotiations and they are determined for that not to happen again. That may bode well for the players ultimately getting more of what they want this time. On the other hand, I suspect this means that this work stoppage may stretch into spring training and even into the season. The 94 strike–which stretched into the 95 season–was a miserable experience for the fans (including me!), but most agree that the players came out on top in the end.

  34. For instance, would we not all agree that if the owners locked the players out for an entire year, they would gain a competitive advantage?

    I don’t think that’s obvious. If baseball lost a full year, just as hockey did, it would be financially crippling, as it was for hockey. Everyone loses, and I’m not convinced that the owners actually emerge in a stronger position. It would be painfully obvious to everyone looking at the bleeding balance sheets that the owners had overplayed their hand — and for a public company like Liberty Media, they would likely apply backchannel pressure to prevent that from happening, splitting the owners’ united front. Every single labor dispute that the players “won” came because the owners’ solidarity crumpled at the table.

    I genuinely do not believe that Rob Manfred would buck the owners at any time for any reason, even if it would redound to the long-term health of the sport. I wish I shared your optimism.

  35. So what I read you to say, tfloyd, is that every year there has been a work stoppage is a year the Braves won the World Series, sometimes in advance, sometimes in arrears. Seems like a small price to pay!

  36. I heard Scherzer say that a big part of the union issue is the luxury tax. I think New York, Boston and other huge market teams should pay a premium for their seemingly unlimited payroll. Do you guys see this as a major issue or is this just a small issue that is being brought up? It has been around for a long time.

  37. @46–actually, every time the ATL Braves have won the WS, it was in a year with a work stoppage. But there have been several other years with work stoppages in which the Braves did not win the WS. So a work stoppage is not a guarantee of a world championship. If it was, I could live with it. But alas, we may get a stoppage and a Braves season more like 1972 or 1981.

  38. Point taken. That said, the odds are considerably better in work stoppage year than in any year.

  39. @47 High payrolls are a complete non-issue. At no point in the past twenty or thirty years has competition ever been crushed by one team outspending another. The Yankees haven’t won a pennant in a decade. The Red Sox have been boom or bust and traded their best player while whining about costs. The Cubs tanked, spent for three or four years, then sold it off to rebuild again. San Diego tried to build a dominant team with flashy big budget acquisitions and completely crumbled. The Rangers spent half a billion this offseason and have a pretty fair chance of finishing fourth. The only team that has run high payrolls while consistently being successful is the Dodgers, and they can credit that to their farm system and other teams practically giving them great players for pocket lint more than they can their pure financial muscle.

    If you’re worried about parity, do something about the teams that are slashing payroll and tanking. Nothing kills parity faster than teams that trade everyone and then run a $40 million payroll for five years while claiming they’re rebuilding. These teams could spend more and make themselves better. They choose not to.

  40. @50, high payrolls aren’t the only thing that matters, but money makes a huge difference. The Yankees haven’t won a pennant in a decade, but they have been 84-78 or better every year since 1993. With their resources and any reasonable amount of competence (i.e, better management than the Mets), they’re basically guaranteed to be in the running to make the postseason every year. Low-revenue teams don’t have that luxury. Even the Rays were under .500 every year 2014-17, so there are limits to how much superior management can do to overcome a lack of resources. Look at the difference between how the Dodgers were affected by losing Bauer (barely missed a beat) and how the Braves – a middle-spending team, not a low-end one – were affected by losing Ozuna, who they’re paying half as much. The Braves still won the WS, but it took a lot of luck and superior management.

    To me, the resources problem is that an additional win isn’t as valuable to some teams as it is to others. The Pirates could spend more to make themselves competitive, but they wouldn’t get nearly as much revenue from the extra wins as the Yankees do, or as the Mets would, so they aren’t going to be willing to pay as much in pursuit of extra wins. This is reflected in franchise values, but that still leaves teams and fans in an equilibrium where some teams are usually much more competitive than others. I don’t think that’s good for the sport as entertainment.

  41. @52: “Fan” is an overstatement, but they get my respect. But when you’re trying to illustrate the concept of a replacement player, the song it leads to naturally is “You Lose,” at least until someone signs a guy named Alex Chilton.

  42. Great discussion, gentlefolk. Braves Journal keeps me aware of how much I do not know.

    Ububba gets around, doesn’t he?

  43. @53 — I feel like in theory payroll differentials could become a problem, but it would require a significantly different situation than we have right now. Specifically, payroll could be the ultimate determination of team quality in a system where 1) all teams were trying as hard as they could all the time; and 2) all teams were more or less flat in terms of player evaluation, development, deployment, and coaching. In that scenario, there would be almost no way for teams to distinguish themselves or generate a consistent advantage aside from money or luck.

    But we’re obviously not anywhere close to such a system. Most of the bad teams presently are either poorly run or deliberately refusing to compete or both, and a cap doesn’t fix either problem. And I feel like energy is better spent trying to create a system that incentivizes competition before dealing with the hypothetical problem of rich teams making poor teams irrelevant.

    After all, if you implemented a cap right now, it wouldn’t change anything. The only teams anywhere near the cap at present at the Dodgers and the Mets, and the Dodgers have consistently used their money to keep their own free agents in house rather than go on spending sprees to sign away the other teams’ marquee free agents. You could give the Pirates or Orioles 100 million dollars with no catch for the 2022 season and they wouldn’t spend it. (Indeed, between the national TV deals that every team gets an equal share of and revenue sharing, that’s pretty close to being the actual case.) Running a minimum payroll is too profitable for them.

    (As for franchise valuations, the Royals just sold for a billion dollars. I bet the Pirates would do the same or better if their owner put them on the block. These teams only appreciate — it’s why they’re such a safe investment — and I don’t think people really grasp just how much money even the “small market” teams print every year.)

  44. I agree with incentivizing spending/winning. Trying to not win is disgusting, sometimes you have to blow things up because they are a wreck, but to have it go on forever is just wrong.

  45. I know this will be unpopular with most, but you do incentivize competing by having extra Wild Card teams. If 82 wins gets you in the playoffs, it’s an extremely hard sell to fans that you’re giving up in early July. You can start doing things like that that pit the owners against the fans, and you clear up some of these problems.

    Don’t like all the gimmicky Wild Card rounds? Easy. Don’t watch them. But their fans will, and that also increases revenue for the owners, which further incentivizes competitive balance.

  46. @52, 55

    Good time to be in Atlanta if you’re a Dawg fan. I look forward to taking some money from my Gator fan friends who bet me Bama will beat Georgia. I think Georgia gets past Bama, and I think Georgia even covers the spread. This is my most anticipated non-Florida game since, well, the 2018 SECCG.

    Score prediction: 31-21, Dawgs.

    Can the Georgia Bulldogs beat Bama, then win two playoff games? If a history is a guide…

  47. @58, that sounds plausible, but I’m not sure it’s true.

    After all, we’ve seen a gradual increase in the number of playoff teams over the last three decades — in 1993, there were just four playoff teams, then eight from 1995 to 2011, increasing to ten playoff teams over the last decade.

    Yet tanking has also increased precipitously over the past decade. Clearly, increasing the number of playoff teams is not enough, in and of itself, to reverse the trend of tanking, as the financial incentives to tank and pocket the revenue sharing are far more compelling than the financial incentives to try to compete.

  48. 58 Yeah the conventional take that has been tossed around that more playoff team will lead to teams being less willing to spend (as in, why try and build a 100 win team when you can make the playoff with 82) just never set well with me and seemed like an MLBPA talking point.

    If you have 14 teams in the playoffs, then you will have 20-22 teams in the race at the deadline most years. You may still have a couple of tankers, but it won’t be half of the league which is what we were trending towards.

  49. Seems to me that you’re going to have to attack tanking from multiple angles:
    (1) introduce a payroll floor, paired with an appropriately robust revenue sharing plan (funded in part by the luxury tax) to counteract the whining about KC or TB not being able to commit to, say, an $80M floor;
    (2) reduce the benefits of tanking by changing the draft picks to be done by lottery drawing like NBA

    This feels like a good start. The trick is to find a way to create a combination of carrots and sticks to lessen the value and incidence of tanking while also being viable for all orgs small to large market.

  50. 62 – Agree with the lottery, though it should be done differently than the NBA. I would either give all playoff teams equal odds of one of the top 5 picks for the first round only or give the teams with the better records a better shot so you always incentivize winning.

    I would revert back to the reverse order of standings at some point after the 1st round, maybe the 2nd, 3rd or 4th.

  51. @63 The concern I have with incentivizing winning by giving playoff teams a top pick in the first round is that you’re then giving the best teams first pick at the best new players, which may well create a vicious cycle of haves and have-nots.

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