Atlanta Braves need a righty outfielder: Wil Myers fits
By Fred Owens
The Atlanta Braves need a right-handed, hitting outfielder who plays sound defense, and can hit a bit. Wil Myers is all of those things.
The Atlanta Braves 2022 off-season isn’t moving quickly. Aside from acquiring bullpen help and adding some minor-league options, we’ve heard almost nothing except a lot of chatter that included nothing new from writers with deadlines. I mentioned Michael Conforto as an option last week, today I’m looking at a righty.
While the media spent a lot of time talking about Mitch Haniger before the Giants signed him last week, I haven’t heard anything about Wil Myers, and they are similar players in many ways. Both are 32-year-old outfielders with injury issues and mostly played right field. More importantly, since 2019, they’ve put up similar numbers at the plate.
(Statistics from the payer pages of Fangraphs and Baseball-Reference.)
Wil Myers is one of the great what-if stories of the last decade and a half. Drafted by the Royals in 2009, he joined baseball’s top-100 player list in 2010 and was on everyone’s top-ten list as 2013 began.
He was named AL Rookie of the Year in 2013 and represented the Padres on the 2016 All-Star team when he 28 homers, 29 doubles, and four triples while batting .259/.336/.461/.797 and posting a 115 OPS+,.341 wOBA. And 115 wRC+. The Padres responded by giving him a backloaded six-year, $83M contract.
In retrospect, it’s easy to see that the Padres’ contract was an overpay for a player who was always projected as a .250-.265 hitter with the ability to hit 20+ homers a season.
Myers did exactly as projected throughout his contract, batting .254/.329/.453/.782 with a 112 OPS+, a .334 wOBA, and 110 wRC+. He averaged 18 homers a season but lost half of 2019 with multiple stints on the IL and came to the plate only 286 times in 2022.
Defensively, Myers has 3060 innings at first base, most of those innings coming in 2016 and 2017. Since then, he predominantly played right field, where he posted 6 DRS, 3.2 UZR, and 2 OOA in 2021, but could easily move to left, where he’s posted a combined 5 DRS and 4.0 UZR over 947innings.
What does Myers offer the Atlanta Braves?
Myers’ positive clubhouse presence and work ethic fit the way the Atlanta Braves train and play. He finished 16th in NL MVP voting in 2020, and his bat returned to its pre-injury form in 2021, and despite another year of injuries, posted a similar line in 2022.
Bringing Myers on board adds a right-handed hitter who’ll bat around .256/.327/.447/.774 and hit 20-25 homers when playing consistently. He’s a smart – if not speedy – base runner and a better defensive outfielder to play left than any options the Braves have today, as well as offering an experienced backup first baseman when Matt Olson needs a day off.
That’s a wrap
It’s unlikely we’ll see the Atlanta Braves add a left fielder until they either know what’s going to happen with Dansby Swanson or get tired of waiting for a decision.
If they bring Dansby back, the Braves may hope Rosario and Ozuna remember how to hit. If they have to sign Elvis Andrus or another placeholder, they’ll see which outfielders are still available.
Myers isn’t a perfect answer, but he’s the kind of player the Atlanta Braves have had success signing recently and would improve the lineup on both sides of the ball.