2 Potential Problems for the Atlanta Braves at STP.
The Atlanta Braves christened Sun Trust Park over the last week and from all accounts the park itself passed all the test.
Overall, the suits that run the Atlanta Braves have to be ecstatic how the first home stand went.
I heard or read separate reports about parking being easier than expected, traffic being less catastrophic than feared, and the Battery around the park being a pretty incredible experience.
As nice as all that is though, the most exciting part about this past week, at least for me, was finally seeing how the Braves new home park was going to play.
One of the great things about baseball is there is no uniform playing surface. Dimensions and wall heights vary. Every city is unique. Every park plays differently and we we finally got to see real baseball with real major leaguers in the new park.
Early on, we’ve begun to see some trends:
- Left handed power plays
- RH fly ball pitchers are going to struggle
Now before we get too far down this road let me insert the necessary qualifier: It’s still very early. I get that. These aren’t trends that are guaranteed to continue and therefore something that has to be addressed immediately. This is more of a “something to keep an eye on” post.
Okay, with the piece sufficiently qualified, let’s move on.
The most important reason for understanding how your home park plays is so the team can be built to maximize its strength and minimize its weaknesses. Ask Colorado about that concept.
And obviously by the title, this is where I see a bit of a problem.
Let’s start with LH Power
We all know about Freddie Freeman. He’s incredible. I wrote a piece in the off-season about how his batted ball data showed his break out year in 2016 wasn’t a fluke and he was monster in the making.
So far Freddie is making me look smart. David Cameron just wrote he may be the best non-Trout hitter in baseball. Yeah. Beast.
But after Freeman, the organization is relatively bare in the LH power department. Power hitters in general are an area where the system needs to be improved but the few that are there are RH.
The team just traded for Matt Kemp and Alex Jackson, they recently drafted Austin Riley, Ronald Acuna, Christian Pache, Travis Demeritte, Dustin Peterson. All right-handed.
Now there’s nothing that says a right handed power hitter can’t hit the ball out to RF but obviously pull power is much easier to tap into.
Braxton Davidson is technically a left handed power hitting prospect but his development hit a wall a couple years ago and so far, the wall is winning. There’s also of course switch-hitting super prospect Kevin Maitan but he’s 3-4 years away if everything goes perfect.
That leaves Rio Ruiz. The 3B prospect acquired in the Evan Gattis trade has shown flashes of being a major-league hitter, more against RHP, and is at least interesting enough to follow.
Overall the team has seemed to focus more on RH power over the last couple years but now that we’ve seen the way the ball flies out to right field – I see you Ender – you do wonder if they’ll look to acquire more left handed pop.
The second part is a little more alarming.