Atlanta Braves 2019 Report Card: Offensive and individual player grades
OVERALL GRADE: A
The 2019 Atlanta Braves had one of the top infield offenses, led by the usual suspects: Freddie Freeman and Ozzie Albies, but also a late-blooming Josh Donaldson.
Dansby Swanson was also no slouch, as he made solid strides in 2019 — perhaps the best season of his career.
Even the catching rotation of Brian McCann and Tyler Flowers produced, with Francisco Cervelli adding some veteran presence in the latter portion of the season.
2019 BRAVES INFIELD MLB RANKS
Let’s break down each player by position…
C / Brian McCann: GRADE: B
89 games, .249/.323/.412, 12 HR, 45 RBI, 89 wRC+, 1.1 WAR
The 35-year-old McCann quickly called it quits following the Braves’ Game 5 loss on Wednesday — retiring after 15 seasons (seven-time All-Star) — but he posted a very respectable 2019 season for the Braves.
He did everything he was asked to do: split catching duties with Tyler Flowers (85 games), play solid defense behind the plate (8.3 Def) and pop a homer every now and then (12 HR).
McCann’s .249 batting average in 2019 was his best mark since the 2013 season (his first round with the Braves). I see no reason to not grade him highly.
C / Tyler Flowers: GRADE: B-
85 games, .222/.319/.413, 11 HR, 34 RBI, 88 wRC+, 2.1 WAR
Flowers’ inability to hit left-handed pitching really put a damper on his overall batting line (.262 AVG vs. RHP / .155 AVG vs. LHP); but even so, Flowers has made his living by becoming the king of catcher framing, which he excelled at once again in 2019, posting 19.0 Def WAR (the third-best mark of his career).
As he’s done in 5 of his last 6 seasons, Flowers totaled at least 2 WAR in 2019, thanks mostly to his elite skills behind the plate. Sure, it would be nice if he could do a little more with the bat, but given his position… Flowers turned in another above average campaign.
1B / Freddie Freeman: GRADE: A
158 games, .295/.389/.549, 38 HR, 113 RBI, 138 wRC+, 4.0 WAR
Freddie posted his most powerful season, slugging 38 home runs (four more than his previous high in 2016) and once again provided the Atlanta Braves with unwavering consistency.
The only reason he doesn’t get an A+ in 2019 is because, well, this technically wasn’t even his best year (6.1 WAR in 2016), plus his September/October decline (compared to his usual numbers) warrants some deductions. This was likely attributable to his elbow spurs, but it’s still part of his season.
- March 28 – August 31: .299 AVG, 144 wRC
- September: .264 AVG, 95 wRC+
2B / Ozzie Albies: GRADE: A+
160 games, .295/.352/.500, 24 HR, 86 RBI, 15 SB, 117 wRC+, 4.6 WAR
It was a career-year for Ozzie in 2019, as he posted the best season of his 3-year tenure with the Atlanta Braves.
Ozzie did it all in 2019, playing outstanding defense (4.6 Def) at second base and providing consistent at-bats as the No. 2 hitter behind Ronald Acuna Jr..
Ozzie also cut down on some bad habits at the plate and raised his walk-rate from 5.3% in 2018 to 7.7% this year. Finishing third on the team in WAR, Ozzie gets an A+.
SS / Dansby Swanson: GRADE: B+
127 games, .251/.325/.422, 17 HR, 65 RBI, 10 SB, 92 wRC+, 1.5 WAR
2019 was Dansby’s power breakout season, as he slugged more homers and knocked in more runs than any other season of his career.
However, Dansby’s defense took a bit of a dive this year, preventing him from posting his best WAR-season yet.
- 2018 Def: 11.3
- 2019 Def: -0.8
Dansby’s huge improvements this season when it came to hitting breaking balls, coupled with his ability to mostly lay off the low-and-away slider are duly noted, but I still think he has a little more in him.
3B, Josh Donaldson: GRADE: A+
155 games, .259/.379/.521, 37 HR, 94 RBI, 132 wRC+, 4.9 WAR
The Braves No. 2 in WAR (behind Acuna Jr.), JD started the 2019 season slow, but ended up reverting back to his MVP days for the last 80% of the year.
At 33-years-old and coming off a few injuries, we didn’t even know if Donaldson would be able to last the entire season, let alone slug almost 40 home runs and play above average defense (4.5 Def). This is a player that GM Alex Anthopoulos needs to bring back.