Atlanta Braves and Oakland: is there a deal for an outfielder possible?

OAKLAND, CA - SEPTEMBER 22: Stephen Piscotty #25 of the Oakland Athletics hits a double against the Minnesota Twins during the ninth inning at the Oakland Coliseum on September 22, 2018 in Oakland, California. The Oakland Athletics defeated the Minnesota Twins 3-2. (Photo by Jason O. Watson/Getty Images)
OAKLAND, CA - SEPTEMBER 22: Stephen Piscotty #25 of the Oakland Athletics hits a double against the Minnesota Twins during the ninth inning at the Oakland Coliseum on September 22, 2018 in Oakland, California. The Oakland Athletics defeated the Minnesota Twins 3-2. (Photo by Jason O. Watson/Getty Images) /
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When the Atlanta Braves deal with Oakland and Billy Bean's front office, different considerations come into play.
When the Atlanta Braves deal with Oakland and Billy Bean’s front office, different considerations come into play. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images) /

The Oakland paradigm

While everyone watched Seattle start, trip, fall over and get replaced by the Angels who emulated their ineptitude, Oakland won 97 games. A group of players most fans couldn’t name scored 5.02 runs/game – #4 in the AL – and allowed 4.16 runs/game – #6 best in the AL.

Their bullpen saved 44 games of 63 opportunities (19 blown saves) and lost just 17, second best in the AL behind Boston. The offense hit 227 home runs second only to the Yankees. That’s no mean feat when you play half your games in the Grand Canyon  .  .  .  err Oakland Coliseum.

Atlanta Braves
Atlanta Braves /

Atlanta Braves

If you want to hit a home run, the ‘O-CO’ is not the place to go. It’s the 5th hardest homer park in baseball; third hardest for LHH and tenth hardest for RHH.

Not surprisingly they want to win again so trading a budding star isn’t high on their list, especially when he’s inexpensive.

Atlanta Braves fans bemoan the size of payroll increases, the Athletics’ are always looking to save a dollar or ten in payroll costs, so there might still be a trade there.

Another option for the Atlanta Braves

The 2019 Oakland outfield as projected today consists of Nick Martini, Laureano, and Stephen Piscotty backed up by Mark Canha, Chad Pinder and Dustin Fowler.

All of those players are inexpensive for most teams. But this is Oakland, and they might like to free up a couple of million to reinforce another area. If so, then Piscotty might be available.

Perhaps Piscotty

If you aren’t aware of the back story, the Cardinals traded Piscotty to Oakland last December so he could be near his mother whose illness had become more serious.  Sadly his mother – just 55 years-old – passed away due to ALS five months later.

Piscotty played well for Oakland as these numbers from Fangraphs show.

PA HR R RBI BB% K% BABIP
605 27 78 88 6.9% 18.8% .290
             
AVG OBP SLG wOBA wRC+ WAR ISO
.267 .331 .491 .351 125 3 .223

At first glance, he appears to have a reverse split. However, a closer look at the numbers shows that Piscotty’s 2017 season – the year his mother’s illness became worse – skews the numbers. Removing that year and looking at 2015,16, and 18, or just 2016 and 2018 show a reverse split too small to consider.

2015, 2016, and 2018 splits            
  PA BB% K% BB/K AVG OBP SLG OPS ISO
Vs. RHP 1086 6.3% 20.7% 0.3 .276 .331 .428 .759 .176
Vs. LHP 424 10.6% 18.4% 0.6 .276 .366 .434 .800 .193

Other considerations

Defensively, UZR doesn’t like Piscotty. It could be his lack of speed causing his bad ratings; he has just average speed. That meant the wide-open pasture of the O-CO did him no favors. When he  played right field in St Louis, he posted +8 DRS in 2017 and +4 DRS in 2016.

Piscotty earns $7.3M each of the next two seasons and $7.6M in 2021 and 2022 with a $15M team option for 2023. His excess value is roughly the same as that of Laureano and Finnegan combined.

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