Ronald Acuna Jr., Adam Duvall, Eddie Rosario, Marcell Ozuna, Orlando Arcia, William Contreras, Alex Dickerson, Guillermo Heredia, Travis Demeritte, Phil Gosselin. Restlessness hovered over this outfield for the first 2 months of the season and for good reason.
- Acuna wasn’t ready to play the field daily, which put Ozuna’s dump truck in the OF, and dump trucks suck at fielding.
- Rosario went blind.
- Duvall forgot how to hit.
- Contreras traded a short, stubby glove for a long, floppy one and predictable results followed.
- Dickerson wailed, failed, and got demoted.
- Demeritte was selected, played well, then played awful, unfortunately earning his demerit.
- Heredia can handle a sword but not a bat.
- Goose goosed. No need to talk about him below.
- Arcia isn’t an OFer. See Goose.
However, the restlessness was laid to rest on May 28th when the heavens opened and Michael Harris was lifted from the hells of Pearl, MS and plopped down, smack dab in the middle of Truist Park’s outfield.
In today’s piece, we will look at each player’s performance thus far in the 2022 season and utilize some advanced metrics to weigh in on successes or FLAT OUT FAILURE THAT MAKES ED K ANGRY!!!
Ronald Acuna Jr. seems to be ready to play the field on a regular basis. That’s good. The Braves need him in there on a regular basis. While his advanced defensive metrics have not been great through the first half, that doesn’t bother me as a fan. He’s earned the right to take it easy a bit while getting back to full health.
There’s not much to worry about when it comes to his batted ball profile as Acuna ranks crazy high in all advanced metrics. However, the one thing that is a bit troublesome has been his lack of lift. Acuna has always had a healthy average launch angle, but this year it has dropped to 12.3 degrees, a big drop from his 18 degrees in the last 2 years. If Acuna finds his loft again, he should regain his power and we will see the return to greatness that we all expect.
Alex Dickerson spent some time in right field at the start of the season. He’s never been much of a fielder, but had developed a reputation for being a good stick. Unfortunately, he left all his sticks in San Francisco, carried a .407 OPS in 36 PAs, was DFA’d, and now spends time at Cool Ray Stadium. With all the problems the Braves have had in the OF, if he’d have played halfway decent at AAA, he’d have been given another shot. Alas, no.
I like Travis Demeritte. He’s an easy guy to pull for and looks smooth wherever he plays. I was ecstatic when he got the call late April and even more ecstatic when he lit the league on fire his first 8 games and was still carrying a .914 OPS after 17 games. Then… he broke. 0 for 33, 14 strikeouts, and not even 1 measly walk. Like A-Dick above, AA dropped the hammer, and Demeritte’s been chilling at Cool Ray since with lackluster results.
Grade: C+, but with great potential to be an A by season’s end. No need to fill.
Let’s get one thing straight. Duvall’s defense doesn’t slump. He’s sitting at 4 Outs Above Average, has played all 3 OF positions and looked really rangy in CF. When Harris was promoted on 5/28, Duvall had been the Braves everyday CFer and being a Type-1 Diabetic, I think it took its toll on him, especially at the plate. The day before Harris’s promotion, Duvall was carrying a .537 OPS and only 2 HRs in 175 PAs. And now here is where I get to request a nickname change, because Michael Harris isn’t Money Mike, he’s Magic Mike. And when Duvall was able to slide back to the corner OF positions, his bat woke up…like +.300 OPS points woke. And while his .679 OPS for the season isn’t on par for what he can do, Duvall’s trending in the right direction now that Magic Mike is chasing ’em down.
Let’s be real. Heredia is here for moral support. This is a baseball blog. I’m not writing about moral support. He carries pink swords and he’s funny. His teammates like him. Moving on and it wouldn’t surprise me if he moves on to another team, likely Gwinnett, before the season is over.
I remember one Christmas about 5 years ago, my in-laws were in town and brought my wife’s aunt with them. When the old folks get together, they like to put together 1000 piece jigsaw puzzles. This particular Christmas, they get down to the final pieces, but some just didn’t fit. The colors, the patterns were all wrong. It perplexed them so much that they walked away from it for a few days. Then one day after we’d sat around a fire for hours, having drinks, my mother in-law walks into the puzzle room and screams. She figured it out, swapped 2 pieces, then everything fit together. I imagine that’s how AA and Snitker felt. Duvall was good in CF, but didn’t belong there. Acuna couldn’t play the field everyday so he had to DH some, but he didn’t belong there. Ozuna had to play the OF, but didn’t belong there. Then the correct puzzle piece was found and it all fell into place.
This team’s dynamics changed when Michael Harris was promoted. The team was 22-24 the day before he was promoted and have went 34-13 since. Not only did Adam Duvall get to move back to LF, but Ozuna got to move out of it. Acuna might be the better player, but right now, Harris is the keystone.
Grade: B-, but like RF, great potential to be an A. No need to fill.
The plan was pretty simple at first. Eddie Rosario in LF, Adam Duvall in CF, Alex Dickerson in RF, and Marcell Ozuna at DH. That went to shit quick. Rosario went to the IL late April, Dickerson was terrible and was DFA’d, and Ronald Acuna was activated, but needed off days from the field. Unfortunately, for Ozuna and all of us, he had to play in the field a lot. As mentioned above, when Harris was promoted, the pieces found their place, and Ozuna made the mostly permanent transition to DH.
Ozuna’s statcast page still shows red (which is good), but the results haven’t come. It is concerning that 2021 and 2022 are mirroring each other as both years, Ozuna carried terrible BABIPs which produced terrible results. His 2022 BABIP, a crazy low .239, is .070 points below his gcareer average and puts him at 149th out of 157 qualified hitters. It’s an odd bunch down there as Rowdy Tellez, Christian Walker, Anthony Rizzo, Byron Buxton, Kyle Schwarber, and Max Muncy round out the list of bottom dweller BABIPs. Ozuna’s luck, like other bottom dwellers, has nowhere to go but up and I expect he’ll be fine in the 2nd half as his expected SLG% is .549.
Eddie went on the IL with a .254 OPS and ended the first half with a .397 OPS. I don’t have to tell this bunch how bad this is, but I will. It’s really bad.
It’s really bad because Eddie isn’t a great fielder. It’s bad because Eddie is under team control for $8MM in 2023. And it’s bad because if Eddie doesn’t hit, freaking Ozuna will have to play LF again. Getting Acuña’s bat plane normalized again is priority 1, but if there’s a 2, it’s getting Rosario mentally prepared to mash baseballs again.
We discussed Duvall in the CF category, but with Harris there, Duvall likely moves into a platoon with Rosario in LF. That would be best for both parties.
Grade: F. There’s no sugar coating it. Left field has been a dumpster fire for this team, but I don’t think there’s a need here as Rosario and Duvall are capable of being a helluva platoon.