One of the biggest question marks for the Atlanta Braves this spring is who will play third base this season. How exactly will it shape out?
Neither has exactly separated themselves this spring, as both are having productive at-bats and proving they can be efficient, if not explosive parts in the batting order.
But at some point, manager Brian Snitker will have to decide how he wants his roster to look when the team opens in Arizona in two weeks.
There was no more disappointing player on the Braves roster last season than Johan Camargo, who came into camp overweight, which clearly impacted his performance.
His final line in 2019 was .233/.279/.384 and a WAR of -0.7. He hit 7 home runs with 32 runs batted in.
He was eventually demoted on August 15th.
Steamer projects Camargo to hit .269 with a .766 OPS. They also project 12 homers, 20 doubles, and 42 RBI.
So far in Spring Training, he has hit .304 with a home run and five runs batted in.
While Camargo could certainly be the everyday third basemen, his versatility makes him a better option as a utility man.
We all remember how encouraging and exciting Austin Riley was when he debuted last May. In his first 43 games, Riley hit 14 homers with 37 RBI and 58 strikeouts. His line was .273/.326/.582
But over his last 37 games, he hit a putrid .156/.210/.303 with just four homers and 50 strikeouts.
Much has been made about Riley’s adjustments this spring and the numbers certainly show. He is hitting .304 with two homers and four runs batted in.
Steamer projects Riley to hit 15 homers and 43 RBI, while batting .250 with 84 strikeouts in 71 games.
If Riley were to play 142 games that’s 30 homers, 86 RBI and 168 strikeouts — sign me up for that.
This is a no-brainer decision for Snitker and the Braves.
Austin Riley needs to be the Opening Day third basemen, with Camargo coming off the bench as a super sub.
Outside of the top four in the batting order, there is not a ton of power left. Riley would undoubtedly bring that. Plug him into the five-spot in the order and let’s go.
Camargo is too good to be sent down to Triple-A to be the starting third basemen there. The 26 best players need to be on the big league roster and Riley and Camargo are just that.
Riley provides the most upside, while Camargo is the security blanket in the event of Riley struggling or getting injured.