The Atlanta Braves are in the top ten in production for the National League in every area except DH (16th), shortstop (18th), and left field (27th.) Help is needed in left and at DH, but the latest rumor isn’t the answer.
In The Athletic this morning (subscription required), Eno Sarris suggested under-the-radar fixes for the Atlanta Braves and nine other teams. Sarris is one of the creators of Pitching +, and if you can wade through his math (I often can’t), he offers insight into today’s game not found elsewhere. I have a ton of respect for him, but this time, he blew it.
The Atlanta Braves Should Trade For Who?
Sarris explained that Eddie Rosario is streaky, isn’t patient, and has made only league-average contact over his career. Like all Braves fans, I’m aware that he’s only walked 17 times this year and WHIFFs just under 30% of the time,
He’s also a hit-or-miss defender who can turn in a spectacular play in one inning and act like he’s never seen a fly ball the next. So I was on board with a replacement and waiting for a name no one expects to be that guy, then he suggested Charlie Blackmon with nothing that looked like a good reason.
Can You Support That Idea?
The sum total of Sarris’ rationale is that Blackmon walks more, strikes out less, might improve left field defense and help at DH, and he went to school in Georgia.
Blackmon is currently hurt, but he’s on his way back …(he)makes more contact than Rosario. He could come back to where he went to college and help the Braves at DH and … corner outfield and also put some balls in play…(he) might only push the team up a few spots in left field and yet he’d still be of help to them in a deep postseason run.
Some of that is true. Blackmon has a much lower 16.6% WHIFF rate, walks two percent more than Rosario, and has a lower groundball rate this year. But he’s played only 56 games in 2023. His 6.6% career walk rate coming into this year is the same as Rosario’s rate this year.
All of Blackmon’s good hitting happened at Coors Field; on the road, it’s a different story.
The Coors Field Effect
I’m on the record saying good hitters can continue to hit well after leaving Colorado;t D.J. LeMahieu, Nolan Arenado, and Matt Holliday are proof that’s true. Other players don’t fare as well away from Denver; Blackmon is one of those players.
Since 2018 Blackmon has batted:
- .255/.321/.407.728 in 1323 PA, with 72 doubles, 6 triples, 39 homers
- .316/.375/.538/.913 in 1516 PA, with 74 doubles, 21 triples, 62 homers
Since 2020, Blackmon’s posted a wRC+ of 97,93.89 and 96, while Rosario’s posted 112, 98, 61, and 101. Rosarios’s eye surgery impacted his wRC+ numbers; since 2017, his lowest wRC+, other than 2022, was 2021’s 98.
There’s nothing to suggest Blackmon would outperform his road numbers in two+ months with Atlanta.
As odd as this may sound, defensive metrics suggest that Rosario is a better defensive outfielder than Blackmon.