Another update comparing the seasons of several former Braves players to their replacements. For the most part every current Braves has out-performed the player they replaced. The lone exception: the Braves should’ve signed Ichiro instead of Jonny Gomes. Ichiro has appeared in 40 more games than Gomes, has almost twice as many hits and half the strikeouts. His average is 40 points higher, he’s stolen 11 bases, and played better defense. Gomes may have 7 home runs but Ichiro has 7 triples and home runs combined. Unquestionably a better performer. Ichiro can probably pitch better as well.
While Jason Heyward has put together perhaps his best season as a pro, he has predictably done so in the last year of his contract. Whether he will be worth what his next contract will bring is questionable. The Cardinals, Yankees, and other teams with the larger payrolls will drive up Jason’s salary. The Braves were smart to trade him for all-star pitcher Shelby Miller and lock in gold glove rightfielder Nick Markakis for the long term. Hometown boy Markakis was loved in Baltimore, and despite missing offseason training and much of the preseason his out-hitting Heyward by 14 points – while walking more and striking out less. While Jeff Francoeur has put up a respectable 272 average in far fewer games, he strikes out at a rate five times greater than Markakis. Heyward does look good on the cover of last week’s Sports Illustrated. Hope it doesn’t jinx him.
Cameron Maybin has outperformed BJ Upton offensive, defensively, and in the clubhouse. In many areas Maybin has kept pace and even outperformed Justin Upton and Martin Prado as well.
Fans marvel at the 22 home runs Evan Gattis has hit in Houston, forgetting The White Bear is now strictly an American League Designated Hitter. Even so, Braves catcher AJ Pierzynski has out-hit Gattis in many departments, batting 50 points higher, walking more, and striking out less. In fact AJ has also out-performed perennial All-Stars Yadier Molina and ex-Brave Brian McCann in many categories as well. And don’t forget youngster Christian Bethancourt hit .327 this summer in Gwinnett.
People who still bring up the Mark Teixeira trade can find solace in Freddie Freeman, who despite little protection around him in the lineup has out-hit Teixeira 277 to 255. And those complaining about second-year shortstop Andrelton Simmons’ offense need to know: Simmons is out-hitting former prospect/current Texas Ranger Elvis Andrus (while walking more and striking out less).
Fans too dense to see the greatness of the Craig Kimbrel/BJ Upton trade also probably don’t see how the Braves closers have all but kept pace with Kimbrel. When Jason Grilli went down his stats were actually superior to Kimbrel’s. Anthony Vavaro is a perfect 4 of 4 in save opportunities and has a lower ERA, WHIP, and Average Against than Kimbrel.