The Atlanta Braves watched Dansby Swanson walk in free agency. We called after him to no avail. Many people thought that after losing Freddie, the Braves would not let Dansby leave. I mean he's a Georgia boy! He's the other leader from our World Championship season! He's a pillar!
I called that one too. I love tooting my own horn. I know I'm not the only one, but I just wanted to put it on record that I was on the right side of history. Honestly, I could write an entire article just linking to articles where I called it right. I could call it "I called it." That's what I would call it.
So, Dansby left for a big contract in Chicago. He got seven years, $177 million to bleed Cubbie blue. Who can blame him?
The Braves turned in-house. Many believed Vaughn Grissom would be the easy choice, but his glove is made of wood (at shortstop). That pretty much left the veteran Orlando Arcia. He never lived up to expectations as a top prospect in Milwaukee.
Prior to this season, Arcia had a career OPS+ of 75. That means he was 25% worse than the average hitter in the league, in terms of OPS.
The Braves chose the capable glove and the potential of the bat Arcia teased us with in 2022 to roll with heading into the 2023 season. Then, they showed their commitment to his skills by extending him to a three-year, $7.2 million contract. The deal made perfect sense. It's a great deal for a reliable player. The thought still being, Vaughn Grissom or Braden Shewmake would eventually take over as the next young superstar.
Arcia went down with a broken hand earlier this season and Vaughn Grissom got his opportunity. It was so bad that they didn't even send Arcia on a rehab assignment. They cut the cast off and handed him a bat.
Arica has broken out. He has taken his opportunity and is turning himself into a star player. He started the All-Star game over Dansby Swanson.
Among shortstops, Arcia's .829 OPS is second-highest in the National League, behind only Matt McClain of the Cincinnati Reds. Arcia is slashing .301/.357/.472, all well above his career numbers. Arcia's career slash prior to 2023 was .243/.296/.369.
Not only has he positioned himself as one of the top offensive shortstops in the league, he is doing it with the glove too. His 8.5 DEF rating on Fangraphs is good for the 18th-best rating in the entire league. His seven OAA is the best on the Braves this season.
It truly is a breakout for the shortstop. Credit AA and the organization for seeing something in Arcia that the numbers had not revealed yet. Enjoy the show.