Braves Infield: Depth Chart Discussions

There are probably six players on this depth chart that are more important than Evan Gattis. But it’s fine if you want to read about Evan Gattis, I won’t be bitter. I promise.

That was the wrong foot. Let’s start over!

The outfield is the strength of this team, but this infield will be decent. It might even provide some buy-low investment opportunities. Brian McCann is coming off shoulder surgery and won’t be ready for the beginning of the season, most likely, but his price is dropping so low that it won’t even cost you a pick worthy of a top-12 catcher to get him. He might yet be a top-12 catcher, even with a wonky shoulder. He did okay last year despite two months of playing through pain, that bar is not very high, and he does have the carrot of his contract year waiting for him. I wouldn’t put him on a strict do-no-draft list. I might put Gerald Laird on there.

Freddie Freeman I like but I don’t like. I explained more here, but basically I’m not sure he has a ton of power upside. Which is fine if you draft him as such. Dan Uggla is pretty steady, actually. In OBP leagues, he’s undervalued. In standard leagues, his batting average woes just make him a “hold your nose” late pick that you probably want to supplement with a higher-upside guy (Josh Rutledge? Jedd Gyorko?) in mixed leagues. I don’t know what to make of Uggla’s new physique. I’m assuming he’ll still be able to hit 25 or so out, even as svelte as he is now.

Andrelton Simmons made my ‘guys I like‘ post. I think a move to the top of the lineup will push his stolen base projections, I like his batting average, and I think he can pop double digits out. That’s borderline Jose Altuve at shortstop territory. Health is the only thing — well, that and iffy stolen base totals in his minor league past — that could hold him back.

Third base I want no part of. Well, I suppose if you choose the Bill James projections for Juan Francisco and forecast them for 2/3 of the season, and make Chris Johnson the backup versus lefties, then maybe you could buy Francisco in deep leagues. But I think he’ll hit closer to .245 than .272, and there’s a distinct possibility the two of those mediocre options steal plate appearances from each other to the point that neither is passable. Add to that their many real-life flaws — neither is a good defender, and neither has patience — and it’s an obvious in-season upgrade candidate of a position. I know Johnson has had a reverse platoon split, but he had a traditional one in the minors, and it’s too soon in his statistical history to believe the reverse split. In order to like him, you have to believe he’ll keep the batting average on balls in play high and continue to like hitting right-handers, both of which are statistically unlikely. All that said, I may pick him up as a backup in my 20-teamer where I’m starting Michael Young at the position. Maybe.

Okay, Evan Gattis. He’ll probably make the team, so that’s the good news. The Braves need a backup catcher while Brian McCann is mending, and they could use a backup first baseman if they are going to platoon their third basemen. Gattis is also raking this spring, but that’s barely news. Just don’t forget that at his age — Gattis is turning 27 this season — and with his minor league history — Gattis only hit Double-A last season — he’s not a prospect. He could be a late-bloomer that just needs to find his position, but he’s not likely to have the glove for backup outfield or catcher work for the full season, and with two third basemen on the roster, it’s unlikely the Braves will keep him just to back up first base once McCann is healthy. He is a fun player to watch — strange stance at the plate and all — and you can root for him, but keep your eyes wide open when it comes to his value to your fantasy team. Even if he has some power.

Early Depth Chart:

C: Brian McCann / Gerald Laird / Evan Gattis
1B: Freddie Freeman / Chris Johnson / Evan Gattis
2B: Dan Uggla / Tyler Pastornicky
SS: Andrelton Simmons / Tyler Pastornicky
3B: Juan Francisco / Chris Johnson




Print This Post

Graphs: Baseball, Roto, Beer, brats (OK, no graphs for that...yet), repeat. Follow him on Twitter @enosarris.

15 Responses to “Braves Infield: Depth Chart Discussions”

You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.
  1. JT Grace says:

    Gattis is actually a better defensive corner outfielder than 1B. He actually moves well for a big guy. However, since he doesn’t have a full time position on the Braves I certainly would not draft him on a fantasy team.

    BTW, Chris Johnson is the back-up 1B for the Braves.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Eno Sarris says:

      Point taken. Moved Johnson over. In my defense, I did mention that in the writeup, as Gattis is not likely to be kept as a backup 1b with two 3Bs on the roster.

      Agreed he has no fantasy value.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

  2. Alan says:

    Okay: I’ll talk about Gattis.

    The Braves are making noises about Chris Johnson being a backup first baseman – IIRC, Gattis hasn’t yet seen an inning out there this Spring. Whatever – Freeman will likely be there for 155 games…and should rake in that lineup.

    Oddly enough, the “scattered” inter-league scheduling brought this year might force Gattis onto the roster (in the past couple of years, inter-league games tended to occur in 2 ‘lumps’ – not this year). He’s the obvious choice for DH – or to swap with Justin at LF for a game or so. If nothing else, he’s also the obvious choice for a late-inning RH thumper coming off the bench.

    Inter-league schedule note: Atlanta’s IL schedule seems ‘front-loaded’ with final three series’s on June 25-26 (Royals) July 19-21 (WSox) and then Aug 27-29 (Clev) – one per month after several, ending in May. Those are sizeable gaps that *could* demand roster moves if Gattis is being used only as a DH.

    Bottom line: he should get a decent number of ABs – somewhere in the 200 range, depending on injuries. That is on the cusp of being enticing, since it could include close to 20 HRs.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Tim says:

      It’s gonna take a lot more than 200 at bats for Gattis to hit 20 homers, and maybe more than 200 for him to hit 10. Only 24 active players average a homerun every 20 at bats

      Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Eno Sarris says:

        The fewest plate appearances for 20 home runs since 2000 was Napolis 270-something. Then you have nobody else until David Ross at 296. So I don’t think he’s going to hit 20. I don’t see much fantasy value here other than short-term pickup due to injury. He’s not beating out healthy guys at this two or three positions.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Alan says:

        Noted… though I’m still sticking with my original thought of “16-19″, recognizing that it would be historic… but still not fantasy-worthy given how scattered his playing time will be. FWIW, his Spring slash line is pretty ridiculous.

        In a further look at my numbers, I am guessing that 200-220 PAs could be about right unless he ends up with even more behind-the-dish time than we Braves’ fans are thinking. But the schedule suggests to me that these PAs could be front-loaded… due to McCann’s absence and 4 road inter-league series’s (none after July 31).

        Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Alan says:

      One more point also possible use of Gattis this year (which could just destroy my own original point): Fredi Gonzalez has been VERY reluctant to use his backup catcher as a pinch-hitter – especially last year. This could have been due to the ever-present possibility that McCann’s arm could have fallen apart at the shoulder at any point in 2012, but it seemed to be more like “for insurance purposes.”

      I will be very curious if that practice changes this year. There’s definitely the possibility that Gattis – as backup C – won’t get to hit even if he’s on the roster. That would be stupid if a late-game RBI situation presents itself, but…there ya go.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

  3. JT Grace says:

    Actual depth chart is more like this:

    C: Brian McCann / Gerald Laird / Matt Pagnozzi/ Evan Gattis
    1B: Freddie Freeman / Chris Johnson
    2B: Dan Uggla / Ramiro Pena/ Tyler Pastornicky
    SS: Andrelton Simmons / Ramiro Pena/ Tyler Pastornicky
    3B: Juan Francisco / Chris Johnson

    If Uggla were injured for any length of time the Braves would probably call up Tyler from AAA to take his place. I don’t think he makes the final 25 man roster though.

    Right now the Braves are lacking a LH hitter with some pop for the bench (assuming Juan plays most days at 3B). Whether or not they use Jordan Schafer in that role or make a trade this may impact whether or not Gattis makes the team.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Eno Sarris says:

      I updated the Chris Johnson at first thing, I agreed with that, just wanted to be as generous as possible to Gattis. And if you think he’s not even the backup catcher, there’s even a harder row to hoe towards relevance.

      As for Pena/Pastornicky… doesn’t really matter to fantasy. I wouldn’t even pick up either if there was an injury. And I chose Pastornicky over Pena because Pena’s glove does not impress me. I’ve seen him butcher some easy plays.

      http://www.fangraphs.com/not/index.php/shot-through-the-heart/

      Schafer has more PAs than almost anyone on the roster. That’s one of the few spring stats I monitor and I think it means he’s the favorite for the role you mention.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

      • JT Grace says:

        Hmmmm….interesting to know that about Pena. From what I am reading about Pena the Braves like him because of his glove. Pastornicky has also had some defensive mis-adventures. However, I chalk a lot of that up to nerves from last season. Other than the first couple of games this spring he has looked pretty good defensively. My guess is that he spends this year at AAA and slides into the utility role next year.

        Yes, I also think Schafer wins a role out of spring training. He is out of options and the Braves front office has always liked him.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

      • JT Grace says:

        It’s possible Gattis makes the team out of ST as the back-up catcher. The Braves have typically liked a defense first guy in that role, but Gattis is a special case.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Sn0wman says:

        Small sample sizes abound, but if defense is indeed your tiebreaker you probably shouldn’t go with Pastornicky as the backup. His awful defense at short last year was the lone reason the Braves traded for that no-hit, all-glove career minor leaguer from the Reds after Simmons was injured, and the stats here back up the eye in his case (-12.2 UZR and -16 DRS in 332 2/3 innings). The Rev stinks.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

  4. RC says:

    While I agree with Eno that his age hurts Gattis’s prospect status, but I disagree that his minor league history shows any issues. He’s done great in the minors, but he didn’t start playing until 2010, due to being out of baseball for an extended period of time after high school. While it’s unlikely that he ends up with fantasy value, there really isn’t a comparable player to match him with, due to the unique path he took to professional baseball.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  5. KP says:

    Yeah, I’m a big fan of Eno’s work, but the “with his minor league history” comment makes no sense. He worked his way up to AA with fewer minor league at bats than either Trout or Profar had. I certainly understand the age comment, but his minor league history is stellar.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  6. hortonjr says:

    With what you know today, any oy you care to revise your thinking here?

    Vote -1 Vote +1

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

Current day month ye@r *