There may not be a player more critical to the success of the Atlanta Braves than their do-it-all utility player, Charlie Culberson.
The Atlanta Braves sent Matt Kemp to the Dodgers in that trade and he had a great first half in LA and even made the All-Star team, but has been pretty much irrelevant since then.
Kazmir didn’t make it out of Spring Training with the Braves and hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2016. Gonzalez was granted his immediate release after the trade and eventually signed with the New York Mets where he played in 54 games last year, but nothing since.
McCarthy had a good little run in the Braves rotation before hanging it up.
The only player in that deal still on a Major League roster is Clutch Culberson … the afterthought of that money-driven trade.
But Atlanta Braves fans know how valuable Culberson is to this team, and he’s proven it over-and-over.
Braves players know how special he is as well. Last year Freddie Freeman went as far as to call him the MVP of the team.
And it’s not just the on-field heroics, which we’ll get to in a minute, it’s his selflessness that impresses me the most.
I couldn’t find a clip, but Paul Byrd expressed to Charlie in an interview after the game on Sunday exactly what I think we all feel about him.
"“You’re a starter on many teams,” Byrd said during the interview looking directly at Charlie. “We talked about MVPs of the first half … and there’s Freddie, and Acuna, and Soroka, and others. You are right up there with them because of your attitude. I see you walk in that locker room every day — you’re smiling, you have a great heart, you work hard, you treat people the right way. Your attitude is one of the reasons for this Braves’ team’s success.”"
That interview had me tearing up. When my kid grows up I hope he plays the game of baseball exactly like Charlie Culberson.