Atlanta Braves Among the Best Up the Middle

Feb 21, 2017; Disney, FL, USA;Atlanta Braves second baseman Brandon Phillips (4) throws to first base in a practice following media day for the Atlanta Braves during MLB spring training at Champion Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports
Feb 21, 2017; Disney, FL, USA;Atlanta Braves second baseman Brandon Phillips (4) throws to first base in a practice following media day for the Atlanta Braves during MLB spring training at Champion Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports /
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Feb 15, 2017; Lake Buena Vista, FL, USA; Atlanta Braves starting pitcher Bartolo Colon (40) tosses the ball to first base during MLB spring training workouts at Champion Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports
Feb 15, 2017; Lake Buena Vista, FL, USA; Atlanta Braves starting pitcher Bartolo Colon (40) tosses the ball to first base during MLB spring training workouts at Champion Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports /

Mound Presence, Too

For the Braves in 2017, there’s a bit of a bonus as well:  their starting pitchers are actually skilled at handling plays as well.

Fangraphs doesn’t have many fielding metrics for pitchers, and certainly there are a lot of factors involved, including whether you have somebody who pitches to contact or is a strikeout pitcher.

Still, we can make some guesses from the raw numbers.  Out of 742 pitchers in the majors in 2016, here’s those with the most Putouts and Assists:

Additionally, Colon and Dickey ranked 1st and 5th overall in Pitcher Defensive Runs Saved.  Not only can they eat innings – they can field their positions, too.

By the way:  even Mike Foltynewicz, in only 123 innings last year, ranked in a (large) tie for 23rd in Pitcher DRS.  So he didn’t hurt himself, either.

So Which Team is Best?

More from Tomahawk Take

  • BOS is strong with Pedroia, Bogaerts, and JBJ.  Probably the best overall.
  • CLE could be best in the infled with Kipnis and Lindor, though less so with Tyler Naquin in CF.
  • PHI can make a good case with their trio of Hernandez, Galvis, and Herrera.
  • The Dodgers’ acquisition of Logan Forsythe helps them with Seager and Pederson; however, this is still much more offensively focused, with Seager being the only ‘premium’ defender.
  • The Cubs are lacking a bit in CF, but with Jason Heyward in RF, their CF can afford to ‘cheat’ a bit… and probably needs to if Kyle Schwarber is over in LF.  Still, they will have some issues.
  • HOU?  Not with Springer in CF.
  • The Nationals will bring in a revamped middle with Murphy, Turner, and Eaton.  Murphy may be the near-MVP, but his weak link is defense.

But the Braves will be right there with the best of them.  Adding in the pitcher support and I believe you can make the case that Atlanta’s middle is roughly Top 5 in baseball since they will have a 2B/SS/CF combination that doesn’t include a weak link at all.

Next: Braves Sign A Chief

Those pitchers will certainly love having that behind them.

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