Atlanta Braves 4 Worst Defensive Players of 2023 (So Far)

We take a look at the worst defensive players on the best team in baseball so far.

Minnesota Twins v Atlanta Braves
Minnesota Twins v Atlanta Braves / Todd Kirkland/GettyImages
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A Brief Rundown of the Defensive Metrics Used To Create The List of Atlanta Braves 5 Worst Defenders in 2023

There are a lot of metrics to look at when deciding on Atlanta Braves players' defensive value. Some folks like looking at OAA but that only accounts for the relative range of an outfield and doesn't count the arm (sorry Ronnie).

Defensive Runs Saved has a wider array of factors and ultimately comes up with a number that tells you how much better or worse a player is than others at his position. Fangraphs' DEF rating takes the positional relativity out of it and basically tells you how a player scores compared to everyone in the league.

Matt Olson has a -11.9 DEF rating thus far but that's because it compares him to every player in baseball. Being lumped in with all the shortstops, catchers, and centerfielders is going to make most first-basemen look bad.

When you only compare Olson to other first basemen (which is what Defensive Runs Saved does, he has +3 DRS there. So, with that being said, we'll kind of take it all into account and ruffle some feathers.

The big question you all are wondering is probably this:

Will he go full jerk mode and include Ronald Acuna Jr. in this list?

You'll have to read through to the end of the article to find out. I promise I'll include explanations and statistics if I include him... Spoiler Alert: I do. He's at the end.

Also, if you are reading this then you must be a glutton for negativity. If that's the case, boy do I have the article for you. Click here to read the 5 Reasons the Braves WON'T Win the World Series.

If you'd like to read my guide to Defensive Analytics, click the next link. I like to call it A Dummy's Guide to Defensive Analytics, Written by a Dummy.

Earlier this year Chase wrote a great article on what was going on with the Braves defense. They started out abysmally (Ranking the worst in several categories), but have recovered pretty well since then.

Okay, let's get on with the worst defensive players on the Atlanta Braves in 2023... so far.

Introduction to the 4 Worst Defensive Players on the Atlanta Braves in 2023

The Atlanta Braves have a lot going well for them. A real fan wouldn't look for things to complain about. So, don't consider this complaining. Let's just consider it an appreciation for all the great things we have going, like Orlando Arcia! Because... Oh, what it might have been without him.

So without further adieu, here they are in no particular order.

Washington Nationals v Atlanta Braves
Washington Nationals v Atlanta Braves / Kevin C. Cox/GettyImages

Atlanta Braves Worst Defensive Players of 2023: Vaughn Grissom

Many thought and assumed that Vaughn Grissom would be the obvious starting shortstop coming out of camp. This is the guy that would replace Dansby Swanson, and everybody knew it.

Grissom had a solid bat last year but his glove was so unworthy of a major-league shortstop position that he moved in with Ron Washington and wore his glove 24 hours a day. He had to learn to eat his cereal out of it like a bowl, wash his car with it, and work a summer job as a Subway sandwich artist, all while wearing his mitt. Wash has his ways.

Even then, that wasn't enough to turn Grissom into a major-league shortstop. The poor guy appeared in 158 innings at SS for the Braves and posted an awful -7 DRS. Remember when Arcia came back from his injury and they didn't even send him on a rehab assignment? They were like, "Dude, take the Band-Aid off and get back in the lineup!" Arcia could have had one arm amputated and they were still sending Vaugh Grissom down. They couldn't wait to send him down!

Grissom was on a 135-game pace for -53 defensive runs saved. I know shortstop is possibly the hardest position to play, but he was on a -10 pace at 2B in his rookie season. Grissom might be better suited for an outfield role. For now, his atrocious 158 innings at shortstop for the Braves have placed him on this list.

Sometimes I feel guilty about the things I write. The truth is that these stats are comparing Vaughn to some of the best baseball players/athletes in the world.

Click "next" to read about the next really crappy defender!

Milwaukee Brewers v Atlanta Braves
Milwaukee Brewers v Atlanta Braves / Matthew Grimes Jr./Atlanta Braves/GettyImages

Atlanta Braves Worst Defensive Players of 2023: Marcell Ozuna

Marcell Ozuna has had a resurgent season with the bat. However, he has struggled on defense for years. We recently covered the fact that Ozuna is working out at first base, which is really cool. Ozuna was once a Gold Glove Award winner with the Marlins. He actually used to have an above-average throwing arm and could get to balls well enough that some people gave him a trophy.

Now he just looks like he plays defense with the glove trophy on his hand instead of a real glove. See, the trophy is solid and made of... I guess it's pure gold, like a pirate's booty. But it doesn't make a very effective baseball mitt.

Not only has Ozuna's arm withered away over the past several seasons, he looks like he's wearing ice skates on asphalt when he tries to track down flyballs.

He's pretty much been relegated to a DH role this year, but he has appeared in a meager 14 innings in left field this season. In those 14 innings, he has somehow posted a -1 DRS. I know at this point, it's a silly exercise, but it sure is fun so I'm gonna do it. Ozuna has a 135-game pace of -85 DRS. A more realistic look at his performance would be from last year. He posted -6 DRS in 420 innings with one of the worst arms in the outfield.

We wish him well in his first base endeavors. Thanks for hitting all those home runs. Love you, big guy!

New York Mets v Atlanta Braves
New York Mets v Atlanta Braves / Kevin C. Cox/GettyImages

Atlanta Braves Worst Defensive Players of 2023: Eddie Rosario

Eddie Rosario has made a lot of us mad this season. His overall DRS is in the negative but not like eye-popping bad. However, you know he doesn't pass the old eye test when you watch. I will not take the time to verify this, but I'm pretty sure he's responsible for one full run on Spencer Strider's ERA.

So, what's the deal? It feels like Rosario doesn't get to all kinds of balls he should. Well, his range is not good according to OAA. He ranks in the 51st percentile in the league. It's not as bad as Facebook fans might think it is, but it's not great. It's just in the middle.

I guess we really hold onto those egregious misplays and don't give him credit for when he makes up for them. Maybe he's not so bad.

Games like this one seem to stick with us.

Watch this one, it'll make you mad.

Now watch this one, it's from the same game. Mad.

I guess Eddie isn't that bad, but he's not that good either. He was in the 20th-ish percentiles the past two seasons... but that's not this year. Even still, I'm going to credit him with the eye test and memorably bad plays to get him on the list. The truth is, the Braves have been pretty good defensively,

Eddie Rosario is one of the few regulars that's actually got a negative DRS. Even then, it's just -2 right after 715 innings. Nonetheless, on the list he goes.

For what it's worth, his DEF rating of -2.0 is the fourth-worst on the team.

Atlanta Braves v Pittsburgh Pirates
Atlanta Braves v Pittsburgh Pirates / Justin K. Aller/GettyImages

Atlanta Braves Worst Defensive Players of 2023: Ronald Acuna Jr.

Yep. I'm doing it.

First of all, I know a list of four players is odd. I was going to do five but it is getting late and I'm tired. My girlfriend wants to watch Return to Amish and I'm like really into Amish culture... anyway. You only get four.

Obviously, I have saved Ronald Acuna Jr. for the main event. Now, I have covered this in depth already earlier this season at Talkin' Tomahawk. Read: Is Ronald Acuna Jr. Bad at Defense?

If you want to check that one out, I provide embedded videos and explain why his OAA gets dinged. I can't really embed those videos here, so check that out.

Anyway, on to the details. Does it feel like Acuna Jr. doesn't get to balls like Eddie Rosario? I get mixed reactions on that one. The stats say he just doesn't get to a lot of balls that other outfielders get to. Acuna doesn't make catches on high probability catches.

In the article above, you can see Acuna missing balls that most major-league outfielders would get to. Is it because he's slow? I don't even need to look up the stats to tell you that. You know he's not slow. I have a theory, I'll get to it soon.

Click next to see some of Acuna's stats and why they may not be that big of a deal!

Los Angeles Angels v Atlanta Braves
Los Angeles Angels v Atlanta Braves / Todd Kirkland/GettyImages

Acuna makes up for his lack of range with great throws and tremendous plays at the wall. But how does a guy setting stolen base records have poor range?

His OAA is all the way down to -5.

Acuna's DEF rating is -6.7.

Acuna has the worst range metric on the entire team. According to Fangraphs, he has the worst range on the team. I said it twice because it seems like it can't be true. Oh, it's true! It's true!

Why I Don't Care About Ronald Acuna Jr.'s Poor Defensive Metrics

It is what it is. My theory on this is that Acuna Jr. plays it safe on some plays due to his injury history. But also, one thing these range stats don't account for is the runs saved by not diving for a ball and missing it. Acuna does tend to play it safe on 50/50 plays. In order to get positive stats on these metrics he needs to risk it all to make plays that other guys don't. Acuna Jr. just doesn't do that.

However, he makes most of the plays he should and tends to play it smart. With the bat he has, I think everyone can agree that playing it smart is fine with us. There are a couple of plays that really dinged him. For example, he lost a flyball in the sky with a 99% catch probability earlier this year against the Blue Jays. That counted as -.99 against him.

So, Yes, Acuna is on the list but don't let it bother you. Other people may talk about it. But don't let it bother you. Acuna is a great player and these stats don't necessarily make him a terrible defender. Just understand how they are measured and use your eyeballs.