Major League Baseball Team Analysis: Atlanta Braves, Part 1

Pete’s Perspective

By Peter Schiller

The Usual Suspects

The players who supported the Braves offense in past years, did so again in 2007…with a little help from their youth movement. Chipper Jones was his typical offensive self despite trips on the DL due to arm and wrist woes. See his numbers below. The only question I have is how much longer will his body allow him to play?

The same goes for one of the best young catchers in the game, Brian McCann who struggled with lower body woes (doesn’t every major league catcher). His on again, off again injuries brought his numbers down a bit from where they should be, but if healthy in 2008, expect those numbers to improve.

McCann’s injuries this past year helped the Braves to acquire 1B Mark Teixeira at the trading deadline from Texas by showcasing the talent of another young and talented catcher: Jarrod Saltalamacchia (who also split time at 1B with fellow rookie Scott Thorman).  Teixeira did nothing but produce upon arriving in Atlanta. Just take a look at his numbers.

Although CF Andruw Jones’ numbers were lower than what the Braves are use to from him, with the exception of average and OBP, they weren’t bad for an All Star centerfielder. Just don’t expect to see him in a Braves uniform in 2008. He’s a Scott Boras client who will get the most money he can get, especially in such a weak free agent market. Plus Torii Hunter has just signed which will only increase the demand for Jones. Possibly a trip to the LA Dodgers is in the future for Jones.

SS Edgar Renteria, who was recently traded to the Tigers for two prospects, had another season that had Boston fans scratching their heads wondering where this offense was in 2005. See his numbers below for more detail.

Pleasant Surprises

Renteria’s trade to the Tigers was made possible by the surprising play of rookie Yunel Escobar who put up Renteria-like numbers except for his HR and RBI totals. For those Fantasy Baseball fanatics, Escobar qualifies at 2B, 3B and SS in 2008. It’s not typical that a team can so easily trade away a player of Renteria’s statue without feeling it, but that might not be the case here. Escobar hit only .006 points behind Renteria for average and only .005 points behind in OBP. Renteria had only 5 more doubles, but played in 29 more games than Escobar in 2007. This was a good time for this trade and the Braves couldn’t have felt better about it. For example, if it happened a year earlier, with the unknown that was young Escobar, they might not have been able to pull the trigger on this deal. Plus, in this scenario, it took a little pressure off the rookie in what could have otherwise been a more stressful situation.

Another bright spot was the smooth transition from OF to 2B for Kelly Johnson. His power numbers dropped in the second half of the year, but Chase Utley he’s not. What he is though, is a solid bat in Atlanta’s middle infield that should be dependable for as long as he is under contract with the Braves. Nothing flashy about him, but they have enough flash at the corners already.

We now see that RF is secure in Atlanta for a while with the emergence of Jeff Francoeur who seems to be the real deal. He has an above average arm and as you can tell by his numbers below, it is accompanied by an above average bat, too. I see him getting better in the next few years as he develops at the plate.

The Rest

With the probable departure of Andruw Jones to free agency, maybe the platoon of Willie Harris and Matt Diaz will turn into everyday play for both men. Harris also qualifies in CF as well in 2008. As a platoon in LF they hit a combined .304 with a .359 OBP with 14 HRs, 77 RBIs and 21 stolen bases. The problem with this is that makes the Braves weaker in the OF overall. Personally, I think that they need another bat and keep the platoon in place, which worked well for both players last year. They don’t need a superstar, nor do they specifically need a CF as Harris can play center. What they will need is someone who can hit them 20+ HRs & 80+ RBIs while hitting for a respectable average (OBP would be optional at this point). Maybe a free agent OF like either Darin Erstad or Geoff Jenkins could possibly fit that description (that is if Erstad can stay healthy for a whole year).

NAME POS Alt Pos AVG OBP 2B 3B R HR RBI SB VORP 5X5 Totals
Chipper Jones 3B   .337 .425 42 4 108 29 102 5 76.0 244.337
Jeff Francoeur RF   .293 .338 40 0 84 19 105 5 17.9 213.293
Andruw Jones CF   .222 .311 27 2 83 26 94 5 5.4 208.222
Kelly Johnson 2B   .276 .375 26 10 91 16 68 9 33.1 184.276
Edgar Renteria SS   .332 .390 30 1 87 12 57 11 47.5 167.332
Brian McCann C   .270 .320 38 0 51 18 92 0 22.8 161.270
Mark Teixeira 1B   .317 .404 9 1 38 17 56 0   111.317
Willie Harris LF CF .270 .349 20 8 56 2 32 17 4.0 107.270
Matt Diaz LF   .338 .368 21 0 44 12 45 4 27.6 105.338
Yunel Escobar* SS 2B,3B .326 .385 25 0 54 5 28 5 24.4 92.326
Scott Thorman* 1B   .216 .258 18 0 37 11 36 1 -9.6 85.216

*Denotes player as a rookie in 2007

**Check back for part two of this analysis as well as the answer to our trivia question from the other day**

2 Comments

  1. Levi Smaniotto

    September 9, 2010 at 9:29 am

    Hey… I don’t know if you’ve been making changes, but your pages aren’t displaying correctly for me. The edges of the text are running into each other. Everything was working the last time I was here. I don’t know if it’s me or if you’ve made a change… Just thought you might want to look at it. Thanks! Levi Smaniotto

    • Peter Schiller

      September 9, 2010 at 9:39 am

      Thanks for the heads up! What browser are you using? That helps to pin point the problem. Thank you!

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