Talent drain? How four famous ex-Braves have fared

El Oso Blanco has emerged from hibernation. (AP Photo/George Bridges)

El Oso Blanco has emerged from hibernation. (AP Photo/George Bridges)

El Oso Blanco has emerged from hibernation. (AP Photo/George Bridges)

Yesterday’s post addressed a few former Atlanta Braves — Uggla, Francoeur, Harang — who’d done well at the expense of the current Atlanta Braves. Today’s offers a look at how the four most famous recent graduates of The Braves Way are faring. (None of them have yet faced the Braves in a for-real game.)

Evan Gattis, Houston: He’s hitting .194 with an on-base percentage of .286; he has six homers and 18 RBIs; his WAR value, according to Baseball Reference, is minus-0.1.

That .196 is bad, but it must be noted that Gattis opened the season 0-for-20 with 12 strikeouts. He has struck out 13 times in the 20 games since. Of those 18 RBIs, 17 have come in the past 10 days. (He had 10 in a four-game series against Seattle over the weekend.) He has not appeared as a catcher, playing once in left field. He has DH’ed in every other game. (Remember how we said Gattis was an American League player?) The Astros, for whom he has mostly batted cleanup, are in first place.

Jason Heyward, St. Louis: He’s hitting .224 with an on-base percentage of .276; he has two homers and five RBIs. His WAR value is 0.0.

On Baseball Prospectus, Wilson Karaman asks the musical question: “Hey, so what the heck happened to Jason Heyward?” Parsing the numbers, Karman notes that Heyward is hitting an inordinate number of ground balls — 65 percent; he has already hit into six double plays — and is chasing more pitches. (He has 18 strikeouts against seven walks.) The Cardinals are in first place, but Heyward was recently dropped from second in the order to sixth/fifth.

Craig Kimbrel, San Diego: He’s 8-for-8 in converting saves; his won-lost record is 0-1; his ERA is 5.06. His WAR value is minus-0.2.

That ERA was skewed by Kimbrel, working with the Padres trailing 3-1 on April 29, yielding a career-worst three earned runs on two hits — Gattis had the second of those, a single — and a walk in one-third of an inning. (Kimbrel was pitching because he’d been used once in the previous seven days.) He has been touched for 10 hits in 10 2/3 innings; opponents managed 30 in 61 2/3 innings last year. His loss came against the Cubs on the road. In a tie game in extra innings, Chicago loaded the bases on two walks and an infield hit. Starlin Castro won it with a two-out single.

Justin Upton, San Diego: He’s hitting .300 with an OBP of .343; he has seven homers and 21 RBIs. His WAR value is 1.3.

Batting cleanup, Upton leads the Padres — who also added Matt Kemp, Wil Myers and Derek Norris over the offseason — in home runs, RBIs and slugging percentage. San Diego has, however, been shut out the past two nights and has lost 10 of 14 to fall into a tie for second in the National League West. The Padres do lead the league in runs; they finished last in the majors in 2014. (The Braves are third among NL teams in runs; they were 29th in the majors last season.)

Going by aggregate WAR, these four ex-Braves have added 1.0 win to their respective teams over the season’s first five weeks weeks. By himself, Shelby Miller — acquired in the Heyward trade — has a WAR value of 1.6. (There’s also the matter of the prospects the Braves gained in the four trades.)

Not saying the Braves don’t miss these four worthies, but the numbers aren’t showing it just yet. They actually miss the aforementioned Aaron Harang — WAR value of 1.6 — more.

Reader Comments 0

46 comments
candlin14
candlin14

People think Frank Wren has a done a great job but i don't. Besides getting the Oadres to buy out BJs contract, this Braves team was not that bad. The cancer was the coach. Bringing back Gonzalez is about as worse as bringing back Thomas Dimitrioff.

It's miserable being a die hard Atlanta fan/ UGA fan. When I look at four teams each one of them have awful management and coaches. Mark Richt is so beyond over rated UGA will never ever win a title with this guy. Freddi G is just Pathetic and the Braves are about as fun as watching paint dry. The Falcons are run by Blank and the worst GM in all of sports. Even tho Budenholzer won Coach of the year he is quickly making the most idiotic coaching moves imaginable. Starts Pero Antic on Saturday and his numbers for the minutes he played is embarrassing.

ATL is just a train wreck right now. Two new stadiums coming for a one championship city. To say this city is cursed is just an understatement.

ComaToes
ComaToes

Meanwhile back at the ranch, the Braves have quietly sunk to next to last in the division.  Shocking I tell you, just simply shocking!  Whodathunkit !

Wilbo
Wilbo

Hey, idiot! Only 1 thing to say right now about the useless gutless heartless Braves. So good that they have rightfully descended from that early run in a phony first place, to their more proper spot right near the bottom of the division.


Now if the Phillies would just come to life for a moment and get the dog (rhymes w bird starts with a T) Bravos down at the bottom where they so richly deserve to be......


Oh, no! I see the bonehead Marlins lost and now the Braves are momentarily in the middle of the division. That's wrong! So SO wrong!


Looks like to me if the useless (rhymes w birds starts with a T) Braves won the first 6 they're playing at about a .345 clip since then. That would be the 2nd worst in baseball, and that's appropriate for this piece of (rhymes w grit starts w sh) team.


Braves suck. So do the jackarses who blog about them. 

Doktor13
Doktor13

@Wilbo Go upstairs & give Mommy a kiss, Skippy... you obviously woke up on the wrong side of your futon... 

birdrow
birdrow

@AnsweredTHIS Yes it does.  My bet is that Dilbo could suck a golf ball through a garden hose, and still have enough lung to swallow it. 

GT71
GT71

Too soon to tell, Mark.

It is noted that 2 of the 3 play on teams in 1st place.

HUDDYS1FAN
HUDDYS1FAN

John Hart did a lot of things right in the off season, and Aaron Harang was his only mistake. That said, all the talent procured from the many trades made will come to make Hart look brilliant. Braves will eventually look back on the 2014-2015 off season as a watershed moment in franchise history.

SeanLB
SeanLB

@HUDDYS1FAN I think he wanted to make room in the rotation for Minor (when he comes back) and Folty who is now up.  Cahill didn't work out, but we aren't paying a majority of his salary.  I agree with you, though.  I loved our offseason and believe that we finally admitted that this franchise hasn't been close in more than a decade.  I'd rather have a couple of years of sub-par baseball if it leads us to a TITLE.  Not a division title, mind you...a real one.  

DawgDadII
DawgDadII

They did the right thing trading players who headed for free agency. Also, we're barely into May. Upton historically hit well in April (and August) and Heyward was a slow starter/warm weather player.


If we look back at the 96-win team regulars two years ago the Braves have now dumped the entire outfield, catcher, and second baseman. That outfield had immense potential - on paper. I blame it on the curse of Sports Illustrated - as soon as I saw that Upton cover I knew bad times were on the horizon.

mark513
mark513

Its early but Hart knew what he was doing, if half the Braves prospects he got back in the trades make it to the big league and are productive the trades will be looked on as the dawn of a new era for this team. Heyward and Upton look good in a uniform but they were hardly hall of fame material plus with the market skewed no reason to tie up 40 million a year on two guys that strike out a lot. I just wish we had new ownership to go with new management, imagine if we spent the money to keep Harang as a 4th starter we would be at least 2 to 3 wins better and knocking on first place. 

ShovelPlease
ShovelPlease

This just goes to show that WAR value or any of the new-fangled stats can be used to support ANY position. 

Jetiredo
Jetiredo

WAR what is it good for ......absolutely nothing

DrPhill
DrPhill

Shelby Miller looks like the real deal. Gattis is going to come around and hit 40 homeruns. He is going to be very popular in houston.

Mr. Negative
Mr. Negative

I imagine Liberty is offering Shelby Miller to whoever can come up with the most undocumented cash that they can bury in their vaults. Gold bars are welcome too. Anything for a tax dodge.

THEBITTERTRUTH
THEBITTERTRUTH

Heyward stinks and always has. We stole Miller and the prospect form St Louis. This will go down as one of the best trades the Braves ever made. Where are all the Heyward rear kissers now?

BruceNFairfax
BruceNFairfax

glad to see Gattis heat up.  thanks for the update Mark. I find that i root for nearly all former players to do well.


TomGaff
TomGaff

@BruceNFairfax I too root for Gattis, he was such fun to watch. As for the 0-20 start in the AL, my guess is when a former position player first becomes a DH, it is hard to adjust  to. Imagine just sitting in the dugout, then being asked to bat and produce? I thought only older players(just happy to be on a ML team) were being asked to do it. Not young guys like Gattis?

SaveAmericaFromItself
SaveAmericaFromItself

@TomGaff @BruceNFairfax 

Not always true. Guys like Hal McRae and Edgar Martinez were DHs much of their careers.

Gattis is simply not an option for fulltime duty catching or playing the OF. I wish him well in his new role.

Decaturian
Decaturian

All of these former Braves are on a first place team, I just wish the Braves had 1 guy on a first place team.


CouchPotato
CouchPotato

@Decaturian  Wrong-o.... Padres aren't sniffing first place.  Astros won't remain there.... and without Wainwright, I venture to say the Cards hold on 1st place is in jeopardy.

Honky4Herman
Honky4Herman

Best part is we parted with most of our "talent" to rebuild and, currently, we have a better record than Washington.  LOL.  Somehow, it is much easier to enjoy the Braves when I'm not waiting for them to choke and expectations are low.

SaveAmericaFromItself
SaveAmericaFromItself

@Honky4Herman 

I wonder about fans that had high expectations for 2015. The entire organization is in an obvious rebuild mode, with the long neglected minor league system being restocked with prospects via the recent trades. The upcoming draft will be interesting considering all the picks the Braves have accumulated.

CouchPotato
CouchPotato

@SaveAmericaFromItself @Honky4Herman  You are starting to see the fruits of the reshuffling already.  Jace Peterson exceeded more than most thought.  Cameron Maybin is an upgrade to BJ.  Markakis is a definite upgrade.  The Braves called up Folty, the key piece to the Gattis trade.... and now they called up another young arm that will eventually find his way in the starting rotation.  Mallex Smith and Tyrell Jenkins are close. 


All this while they aren't burying themselves in the division.  Sit back and enjoy!  This has the feelings of '91 all over again!

RangeRover
RangeRover

I look forward to a similar story soon about Fredi Gonzalez and how he's faring managing American Legion Softball.

Doktor13
Doktor13

@RangeRover Sad day for American Legion Softballers... I've got that Clueless Windbag slinging sammiches in a Cuban Deli down in FL inside of 5 years...

DamonH
DamonH

Former Brade Wandy Rodriguez is 1-1 with a 3.12 ERA for Texas ... he's pitched 17 innings in 3 starts (he's making the league min. this year). Cahill pitched 12 innings in his first 3 starts before he lost his position (the Braves are paying him 5 million to not be a starter), his ERA is 9

SaveAmericaFromItself
SaveAmericaFromItself

@DamonH 

I was no fan of the Cahill acquisition, and believed Wandy had the 5th spot nailed at the end of spring training. After just 3 starts, lets wait to see how Wandy is doing come seasons end.

SaveAmericaFromItself
SaveAmericaFromItself

@WildWillie32 

Do you mean "BJ" aka "Boss Man Junior" aka "Melvin" Upton ?

ZERO ! He has not played yet. I'm sure San Diego is dreading when he can. 

LegalBeagle3
LegalBeagle3

Interesting stats on Kimbrel.  One thing I noticed while he was with the Braves was a seemingly dramatic drop-off in his performance when he was brought into non-save situations, and that trend seems to be the case thus far with SD.  Would be really interesting to see the career splits on that.  

EmoryEagles
EmoryEagles

@CarrollSanders I agree with you there.  I always felt great when he was in a save situation but ess so in a non-save.


CouchPotato
CouchPotato

@CarrollSanders  Also, his control last year was very sporadic.  While he was still a lock down closer, he walked the line quite a bit with his wildness

Blue Ridge Matt
Blue Ridge Matt

Yet people will continue to say that what we gained this season with those trades is not ever going to amount to anything. 

SaveAmericaFromItself
SaveAmericaFromItself

@Blue Ridge Matt 

In 1987 the pitching starved Braves traded veteran starter Doyle Alexander to the Tigers for a 20-year-old pitcher coming off a 4-11 record and 5.73 ERA. Didn't sound promising at the time.

The pitcher's name was John Smoltz.

Most fans live in the present and don't want to see how these trades will turn out. I seem to recall the legendary GM of the Brooklyn Dodgers traded a no-name outfielder to the Pirates. It was Roberto Clemente. 

SkokieDog
SkokieDog

@SaveAmericaFromItself Your sample of two doesn't prove anything. It hardly suggests much either, except some trades work out better than expected sometimes. Some other times, they don't. Does the name Len Barker ring any bells?

SaveAmericaFromItself
SaveAmericaFromItself

@SkokieDog @SaveAmericaFromItself 

Yep, the Len Barker trade cost Joe Torre his job as manager. Other Brave giveaways were Steve Bedrosian,  Dusty Baker, Gary Matthews, just off the top of my head. Always a risk involved, whether it be a trade, a draft pick or free agent acquisition. Need I say Messersmith, Hrabosky, Sutter, Esasky, Lowe, BJ, etc ?

GWJ0525
GWJ0525

@SaveAmericaFromItself @Blue Ridge Matt  I remember the Smoltz trade which actually was ok for Detroit that year as Doyle was something like 9-1 if I remember right and helped them get to the playoffs, but it helped the Braves for many years as we know.