Freddie Freeman MVP Finalist

The BBWAA announced today the three finalists for the National League MVP. Congratulations to our very own MVFree! He’s in some good company, but you can’t ignore the numbers he put up after he was fully recovered from COVID.

Tomorrow we’ll break down the three finalists as only we can do here at Backdoor Slider. Who really should walk away with the award? Is Freddie a lock?

Braves 2020 Offseason Priorities: Part V

If you missed any in the series, find them here Part I, Part II, Part III, Part IV.

Welcome to the fifth and final installment of the Braves 2020 Offseason Priorities. Today we’ll look at the bullpen, which took a hit with free-agency. So the Braves are going to have to go after an arm or two fill the slots now left vacant.

Gone in 2021

That’s a lot of arms that were an integral part of this season’s bullpen (Tomlin is debatable). Here are the arms that are still around in the bullpen and will be the base that the Braves work on. The list is coming from Fangraphs roster resource.

Fangraphs also has Sean Newcomb and Touki Toussaint in relief roles. I’m basing the article on the fact that those two aren’t in the bullpen plans at the moment. While they are viable options, I expect the Braves to go outside the organization for a couple arms. And the free-agent pitchers list is a long one.

On the list by Fangraphs, Chris Martin has been slotted into the closer role. I’m not sure if he gets the closing job or not. It could go to either Martin or possibly Will Smith. Nothing is set in stone of course. Honestly, I don’t see them as closers – but I’m neither the manager or the general manager.

I’d like nothing better than to have the Braves resign Greene and Melancon, but as I’ve done for years now, not going to hold my breath. I’d love if a deal worked out, that would fill the closer role and a setup man.

No pitcher on this list is over the age of 32.

Braves By The Numbers: #2

If you ever miss out on one of our BBTN pieces, just click the link above cleverly labeled as “By The Numbers”.

Last week we talked about Del Crandall, Rafael Furcal, and Jerry Royster. All notable Braves, now we move on to the #2, 38 players have worn the #2 in Braves history. Some of the names include Dansby Swanson, who could forget Drew Stubbs, or how about Rico Brogna? Does he ring a bell? You get the idea, there was a lot to chose from.

Albert Hall OF

BAOBPSLGOPS+wOBAwRC+aWAR
.245.331.33782.30382-0.7

Albert Hall was drafted by the Braves in 6th round of the 1977 Amateur draft. He would make his debut with the Braves in 1981. Hall was not known for his power, as he hit a total of five home runs in his career. He was better known for his speed on the basepaths, stealing 64 bases in his 8 year Atlanta career.

His claim to fame, and why I had him on this list, he’s the only Brave to ever hit for the cycle. You’d think that guys like Chipper or Andruw Jones would have a cycle to their name, but alas they do not and Albert Hall does.

His best season was 1987 where he hit a slash of .284/.369/.411 104 OPS+ and a wRC+ of 104. He’d come down to earth in ’88 where he hit just .245, by this time he would be on his way out of the Braves as they would release him. He’d play 20 games for the Pittsburgh Pirates in the final season of his career.

Minor League season to be staggered?

Evan Drellich is reporting over at the Athletic($), that if there isn’t a COVID vaccine by the time Spring Training starts, they’ll stagger the start of the Minor League season. Meaning that Major League and Triple-A would report to Spring Training at the normal time. And then when the season starts for MLB and Triple-A, lower minor leagues would then attend Spring Training and have most likely a shortened season.

Even that is iffy with what’s going on as far as Minor League Baseball is concerned. Major League Baseball is looking to take control of the minor league system. As you might know, there are a lot of teams up for contraction this offseason. So right now even the state of the minor’s is a fluid situation as to what is exactly going to happen next season.

I highly doubt we’ll have a vaccine in time to start Spring Training, awesome of it happens, but I wouldn’t hold my breath. Hell, we don’t know if they’re going to be able to play in front of fans, same goes for the Minors and depends on the rules in those specific towns. There a lot up in the air as far as next season goes, not as much as the season past – but close.

So we all better buckle up and setting into this offseason.

Braves 2021 Offseason Priorities: Part IV

If you need to get caught up here is Part I, Part II, Part III.

Let’s look at the starting rotation.

At the end of the season, the Braves ran what amounted to, a two-man rotation. Max Fried and Ian Anderson come on down! That won’t be the case come 2021, I think some spots are up for grabs.

I just don’t see Mike Soroka ready for opening day. Achilles injuries can be tricky. It’s nice to know that he’s now wearing shoes and walking around. The injury was to his plant foot.

That’s great news about Mike Soroka, but still, an Achilles injury is nothing to mess with. In the last report, Soroka was wearing shoes and walking about. Remember it was his plant foot that was injured and while the Braves would like him ready for Opening Day, that might not be possible.

So I’m going to do this, keeping in mind that Soroka isn’t a lock for Opening Day, and so possibly need one or two guys. Kyle Wright will get consideration, but I’d put him in the five-hole. That leaves the fourth spot in the rotation up for grabs. So going into 20201 at least one starter down.

Here I list a couple of realistic targets, and one from my ‘a boy can dream’ list. Though, I bet you can guess who it is, without scrolling down and jumping to the end.

Adam Wainwright (40)

IPERA+DRA-FIPWHIPBABIPaWAR
202065.2137914.111.05.2470.75

I had settled on Wainwright before it was reported that the Braves are interested in the free-agent sinkerballer. I wouldn’t object to this move at all, I think he can bring a veteran presence to the rotation and mentor guys like Fried and Anderson. I think he would be a good fit, slide him into the fourth or third spot in the rotation.

Braves 2021 Offseason Priorities: Part III

Here are Part I and Part II if you missed out.

Let’s look a three backup catcher options for 2021. As you know Tyler Flowers is now a free agent and the Braves maybe in the market for a younger catcher to back up Travis d’Arnaud. With no minor league season, I would refrain from either using William Contreras or Alex Jackson as backups.

I’d rather have those two getting steady playing time in the minors instead of getting a start once a week, when it’s a night into a day game. Plus we know if push came to shove, d’Arnaud can go seven days straight.

The free-agent catcher list is quite long (check it out here). The big fish in this pond is J.T. Realmuto. The Phillies can’t afford to keep him around.

Let’s get started!

Tyler Flowers (35)

BAOBPSLGOPS+wOBAwRC+aWAR
2020.217.325.34877.294800.3

The easiest thing to do would be to re-sign Flowers on a one or two year flyer. He’s a known quantity, he’s familiar with the staff. While he didn’t exhibit a lot of power this season, we know that he can. We know he can hit in 2019 Flowers hit 11 home runs and a total of 25 XBH.

We found out that if needed Travis d’Arnaud can catch seven days in a row (see 2020 NLCS), but there is no need for that. So we know Flowers can call a good game and has some life in his bat.

He will be entering his age 35 season in 2021.

Max Fried wins Fielding Bible Award

If he doesn’t get the Gold Glove, something is wrong.

Really this will be the first of many awards for the young pitcher. Hell, he’s got a shot at the National League Cy Young award. Even in the COVID shortened season, you can’t deny what he did this year on the mound.

I didn’t realize he had four pickoffs this season, but then again I wasn’t counting at the time. Still, congratulations to Max! May this be one of many in your future.

The Braves decline Darren O’ Day’s option

If you wonder just how the 2020/21 offseason is going to go, let this be a warning sign. The Braves today declined reliever Darren O’Day’s $3.2 million option.

In two years with the Braves he’s 4-0, posted a 1.25 ERA in 20 2/3 innings. His BAIP was .231 and a 0.5 aWAR. I look at it this way, we knew it’s going to be weird, and I wouldn’t hold your breath for the Braves to resign someone like Marcell Ozuna.

Braves 2021 Offseason Priorities: Part II

Yesterday in Part 1 we addressed the extension of Freddie Freeman which really is an absolute no-brainer. I also mentioned yesterday that nine Braves have been given free-agency. Tyler Flowers, Nick Markakis, Shane Greene, Cole Hamels, Adeiny Hechavarría, Mark Melancon, Marcell Ozuna, Pablo Sandoval, and Josh Tomlin are all free-agents as of today.

So here in part II, we’ll begin looking at replacements for those nine. Just look at the list, there’s a closer, a backup catcher, a lefty (albeit old) bat, and a damn good bat. Some of the production is going to be a bit tricky to replace. One thing to think about, is there going to be an NL DH rule or not? It’s coming, whether it’s this coming year or 2022. So that’s going to inform you decision when looking for an outfield bat, or a bat in general.

Marcell Ozuna

Look the guy raked for the Braves this season.

Led the league in home runs, RBI’s, plate appearances, and total bases. He had, you can argue an MVP Season, though that distinction is going to go to his teammate. I would be highly surprised if he doesn’t come in second in the voting. Just another thing to add to his resume.

I’ve come to the conclusion that Ozuna will not be taking selfies running the bases after an absolute rocket in a Braves uniform. As nice as that would be, the man deserves to get paid. I just don’t see the Braves ponying up the bucks to give him the four years he deserved, and lots of millions of dollars. I’ve been around this block before, so I wouldn’t hold my breath. Though AA did say they were going to talk.

If anything Ozuna will be playing in the American League next season, there are several teams that could use a solid DH, and Ozuna proved this season he’s as good as any DH on the market, if not better. I believe that one of the other reasons is that if there’s no DH, he’d have to play leftfield – and we all know that is a liability of insane proportions.

Braves 2021 Offseason Priorities: Part 1

With the World Series is now over, it’s time to look into the offseason. As of today, Marcell Ozuna, Nick Markakis, and Tyler Flowers as well as six other players are available for free agency. We’ll tackle that in Part 2, so let’s not get ahead of ourselves.

Extend Freddie Freeman

This is as simple as it gets, yes the team has control through 2021, but it’s better to not delay and give him a deal he deserves. He’s on his last year of a deal he signed in 2014. He’s due $22 million in 2021, in the last season of a deal he signed back in 2014.

Look at this way, he’s the face of the franchise and helped the team get within two runs of the World Series. Not to mention the things he had to go through just to play this COVID shortened season. He came down with COVID and was in pretty bad shape. He got through it and returned to the team, and while he slumped in the first few games, he then ended the season with career highs across the board.

Here’s his slash: .341/.415/.488 wRC+ 187 OPS+ 186

Those are MVP numbers and should get him the award though we won’t know if he’s won or not until November 12th. The finalists will be known coming up on Monday. So we’ll see if he actually made it and if for some outside chance (I’m a Braves fan I’m conditioned to fear the worst) he isn’t on the ballot. I obviously have a bit of doubt, but not enough to overtake the feeling that yes, he’ll be in the finalist talk.

All in all the Braves should do Freddie and fans a solid. How much should his extension be? I’m not an overall money guy, but I’d suspect he could get a good deal, say at least 4 years and possibly in the $160(ish) million range. I don’t think that’s asking too much. He’s the face of the franchise and a cornerstone for the Braves, now and for years to come.