Atlanta Braves 2024 season preview: Travis d'Arnaud brings more than just leadership

Travis d’Arnaud is firmly established as the Atlanta Braves backup catcher and brings great leadership to the clubhouse.

Atlanta Braves catcher Travis d'Arnaud has been a key factor in the team's success since 2020.
Atlanta Braves catcher Travis d'Arnaud has been a key factor in the team's success since 2020. / Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

While Travis d'Arnaud is remembered for his performance in the 2021 World Series, his best season as a Brave was in 2022 when he played 107 games, hitting 18 homers in 426 plate appearances, and slashing .268/.319/.472/ with a .791 OPS.

He’s been an injury-plagued catcher throughout his 11-season career, never playing more than the 112 games he caught as a Met in 2017. However, he's worked hard to stay on the field as long as possible since coming to Atlanta.

Travis started 2023 strong, but a concussion on April 3 sidelined him for 29 days, and he wasn’t the same player at the plate after his return, batting a minuscule .209/.282/.393/.675 with 11 homers from May 10 through the end of the season.

Projecting the 2024 version of Travis d’Arnaud

d’Arnaud enters the 2024 season at age 35 and as much as the Atlanta Braves would love to see him split catching duty 50/50 with Sean Murphy, I think he’ll catch around 70 games rather than the 80-82 games projections suggest. Most, if not all of his starts, will likely come as the primary catcher for Bryce Elder and Reynaldo Lopez. Although, he could reach the 80-game mark if he picks up a few games as DH.

Travis is great at helping develop the young pitchers on this roster and has proven very useful for the Atlanta Braves since being brought to Atlanta. This is an invaluable asset that many seem to glance over when it comes to adding players to a roster.

For example, in his short career, Elder’s been a better pitcher with d’Arnaud behind the plate, pitching to a 3.84 ERA in 75 innings, striking out 56, and walking 26. He's also held batters to a .234/.311/.391 line. Elder must locate his pitches well to keep batters off balance, and numbers suggest that his location is better with d'Arnaud catching.

Given good health, I expect Travis to appear in 78 games, bat .252/.297/.417, and hit 10 home runs across 300 plate appearances.

That’s a Wrap

d’Arnaud has taken on the mantle of clubhouse leader and mentor to Murphy and the Braves young pitchers. He’s the ideal backup catcher, capable of stepping into the primary role for a short time, and despite his less-than-stellar record of holding down stolen bases, without sacrificing defense.

He also has 147 innings at first base, making him a potential emergency backup for first baseman Matt Olson, though the Braves also could look to Marcell Ozuna and newly signed Adam Duvall if needed.

Catching is an inherently injury-intensive position, and over time, a catcher’s body takes longer to recover. d’Arnaud has had more than his fair share of injuries and last season’s concussion was the second of his career. Another concussion could put him on the sidelines for a long time. So, the key to d’Arnaud’s season, and a big factor in the Atlanta Braves' hope for success, is health.

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