The Atlanta Braves have had their fair share of injuries and other circumstances (Ozuna) in 2021, but one they haven’t been able to overcome is losing Travis d’Arnaud.
To say the catching position for the Atlanta Braves in 2021 has even been shaky — as I put in the title — is an understatement.
They rank dead last in baseball, according to FanGraphs, in WAR at -1.4. That’s after ranking 5th in catcher WAR last year when Travis d’Arnaud caught a majority of games in a shortened season.
But even going back to 2019 they ranked 9th with 3.2 WAR when Travis Flowers and Brian McCann split duties — granted most of that WAR came from Flowers’ great defensive metrics.
TDA was expected to be a middle-of-the-order bat in the Braves lineup all year.
When you considered they’ve played most of this season without him, Ozuna, and now Ronald Acuna Jr. — who most had penciled in as three of the team’s top four or five in the lineup — it’s actually incredible to think about what this team has had to overcome.
In TDA’s absence, the Braves have tried a number of players at the position. That list includes Jonathan Lucroy, Jeff Mathis, Stephen Vogt, Alex Jackson, Williams Contreras, and Kevan Smith.
Lucroy leads that group with 0.1 WAR despite playing in only 2 games.
Again, it’s been a rough go at the catcher position for the Braves in 2021.
Contreras had flashes with the bat but was clearly struggling behind the plate, and once his bat cooled off there was no sense in keeping him around.
The Braves have since traded Alex Jackson to the Miami Marlins for Adam Duvall and AJax seems to finally be finding his power stroke with the fish.
I don’t even remember the Jeff Mathis era at this point.
Vogt and Smith are the current tandem and they’re hitting .178 and .165 respectively. At least Smith is giving you elite defense behind the plate, but he also carries the worse offensive WAR of the group at -10.2.
Most expect TDA to make his return to the Braves on Tuesday. Whenever that happens, it will be a huge breath of fresh air to a position that has been a black hole on the team all year.