April 27, 2012; Indians left fielder Michael Brantley (23) hits a double in the seventh inning against the Los Angeles Angels Photo Credit: Andrew Weber-US PRESSWIRE

Pick Your Braves Outfield Option - The Results

The results are. Fans voting on a player based on stats only to take Michael Bourn’s place in the Braves outfield chose Michael Brantley, currently of the Cleveland Indians. Here are the final results for each player.

Name plyr Results
Angel Pagan A 21%
David DeJesus B 8%
Denard Span C 17%
Coco Crisp D 0%
B.J. Upton E 4%
Michael Brantley F 32%
Shane Victorino G 9%
Ben Revere H 9%


Breaking It Down

I suspect if the names had been on view the results would have been decidedly different. In fact I doubt Brantley or Revere would have been on anyone’s list. Most fans assume that the big names are the best players and right now Pagan and Upton are in the news a lot so I suspect they would have one and two in voting based on my read of Twitter Critter and talk show voices. If age had been a visible factor it would certainly have had an effect but it would also have made identification easier and I wanted to avoid that. I left Josh Hamilton off the list because unlike our new writer Rob Konis who opined that Hamilton was worth the risk, I think he’s a broken ballplayer and any team who pays a huge salary for him will regret it in two years or less.  Besides, he’s just not a “Braves” kind of player and I don’t want him at any price he’s likely to accept. Check out Rob’s piece and decide for yourself.  When you look at the numbers of the folks on my list without preconceived ideas Brantley was a clearly the best.

Michael Brantley

The 25 year old (26 in May) Brantley was a seventh round draft pick of the Brewers in 2005. He was traded to the Indians in the CC Sabathia deal. He made his debut  with the Tribe in September 2009 and became their regular center fielder in 2012.  In his four years the left handed hitting Brantley he has very good numbers all around.

1412 16 174 117 189 .274 .305 .329 .376 0.1 21.6% 48.3% 30.0% 8.4% 91.4%

His counting stats are good too.

74 11 139 39 20 19

Hitting leadoff:

.267 .314 .364

He has good splits too

Vs RHP .286 .337 .403
Vs LHP .246 .309 .311

Why would the Indians consider trading him? With Terry Francona taking over they really need to rebuild the club and that starts with pitching. As a medium to small market team they have to do that with a small payroll. I suspect they will eventually give Francona a bump from the $65.4M they had last year but since 2002 they’ve broken $80M once and that was in 2009 before Cliff Lee left. They were 28th in team pitching last year and need to improve that. They need pitchers who they can control and have to build for the future. By the time they’re ready to contend Brantley will be a free agent. They have Tim Fedroff beating AAA to death and ready to try his hand in the bigs so something like Tommy Hanson + Eric Cordier + Joey Terdoslavich might well convince them to part with him but I think he’s available.

Angel Pagan

There’s not much to say about Pagan that folks don’t already know. Pagan is said to be looking for a multiyear deal and if he could be signed for three years with options might be worth a look.  The problem is he fits for the Reds as well and of course the Giants will make an offer too and while the Reds have limited salary space the Giants can afford him so he’s going to be closer to four years and $48 million and at 32 years old next year I think is more than he’s worth. Pagan is a late bloomer and the trouble with late blooming everyday players is they start off older than their comparables; he’s a.year older than Bourn, seven older than Brantley and four older than third place option Denard Span.

Denard Span

There’s a lot of talk theat the Twins will make Denard Span available this year and for good reason; they are in rebuilding mode and Span has a progressively more expensive contract ($4.5M , $6.5M, $9M in 2015) and could land them more than a couple of good prospects. Span’s been in the league a year longer than Brantley.

2354 23 360 254 321 .284 .320 .357 .389 .105 20.4% 53.8% 25.8% 6.2% 91.0%

105 30 139 230 90 28

As leadoff man:

.282 .354 .386

Even though he’s a left handed hitter Span’s splits are better against lefties.

  Avg OBP SLg
Vs RHP .280 .349 .385
Vs LHP .293 .374 .398

Of the three players Span solves mores needs at once. Without seeing his platoon splits of course there’s no way you could have known that. The Twins know how good Span is which is why they bought out all of his arbitration years early on. They will want pitching (everybody wants pitching) and will have some interesting suitors. I’m not sure the Braves would go for an asking price that included Julio Teheran and perhaps Sean Gilmartin as well as others.  The Twins don’t match up well with us traded wise outside of pitching so it’s hard to see what we could do to make it worth their while except perhaps include Christian Bethancourt so that they could also move Joe Mauer and get out from under at least some of his salary.

The Rest

It may surprise some that the rest incudes Upton and Victorino but it really shouldn’t.  Upton has been an average or below player and Victorino’s no longer the switch hitting, speedy center fielder/stolen base threat he was.  Upton will get paid too much by someone – I think the Phillies – and disappoint there. If the Giants don’t sign Pagan they may opt for Victorino as a short term fix until Gary Brown is ready. He would fit that ballpark and it would keep him where he wants to be; on the west coast close to Hawaii. Crisp will likely be on the move now that Chris Carter belongs to the A’s but he’s becoming a fourth outfielder rather than a starter. (A side note. Does anyone else think it’s interesting that Moneyball man Billy Beane had the team with the most strikeouts in the AL this year? Oh OBP where have you gone?:) )  DeJesus is on the same slope as Crisp and is also a fourth outfielder these days. That leaves Ben Revere.

Revere is the Twins answer to “who plays center if your trade Span.”  At 24 years old (turns during the season) Revere is fast and hits for average if not for power. He sports an 80% steal rate and struck out only 54 times in 553 plate appearances so he putting the bat on the ball 93% of the time. He only walked 29 times so that needs to improve but experience will help in that area. I suspect that he got only 8% of the vote because of his low slugging and ISO. The question is, how important is that?  I think it’s way down my list of must have tools for a center fielder particularly if he has Jason Heyward on his left side and Martin Prado or someone equivalent on his right.

Revere’s platoon splits are essentially equal, he puts the ball in play and use his speed to confound pitchers and defenses. Those are important for a leadoff man. Defensive his arm projects as a left fielder but everything else says center. I’m not advocating him as choice one but if he allowed us to use or resources to sign a bigger bat to play left field I suspect he’d be a very good player for the Braves.

That’s A Wrap

I hope you enjoyed looking at players this way. I found the results interesting an many levels. I was particularly interested as my editor told me that after seeing the last three years of data he would have taken player G – Shane Victorino – instead of his first choice (he didn’t say who that was. I wonder if now the he knows it was the Flying Hawaiian he’d take that back?  Personally I’m not eager top see Bourn back nor does my excitement grow when the name Pagan is mentioned. I’m not sure why I just don’t believe he’ll last. My preference is for youth, controllability and a contact bat. We have way too many strikeouts in the lineup now and adding a leadoff many with 140 more is a mistake unless other changes are made.  With that in mind I’d go with the other voters and put Brantley at the top of my board with Span and Revere below him. Of course a lot depends on what the Braves have in mind for left field/third base. I have an idea about that too. I’ll tell you next time.

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  • Mike Collins

    Fred, I’m still licking my wounds. I really, really wanted and hoped for a better showing for the Braves in Chippers last stand. That guy meant everything to me as a baseball player. He did it all the right way and deserved every accolade bestowed upon him.
    Okay, I’ve wiped my tears away. I’ll say that I wish Brantley or Pagan should replace Bourne. Pagan will get attention this offseason, but Victorino shouldn’t be so easily dismissed by most. He had a Down year but can produce similar numbers to Bourne in any given situation.

    • fireboss

      Like I just told Lee, Victorino would be fine as a short term fix for a reasonable price . Pagan is someone I for some reason can’t get behind. I don;t know what exactly but I watch him think he’s a skyrocket kind of player due to explode any day now

  • Lee Trocinski

    There’s nothing “good” about Brantley’s .311 SLG against lefties. Also, he and DeJesus (my original pick) are probably the worst defensive players on the list, corner outfielders that have played some iffy center.

    As far as the Moneyball reference, OBP is no longer the undervalued asset, so the A’s don’t focus completely on it anymore. Platoons and pre-arb. quality pitching got them where they went.

    As far as picking a Phillie, I have no problem with that. Chase Utley is one of my favorite players, and my objectiveness shouldn’t be surprising, given my statistical thinking.

    Overall, I think Span or Revere would be the best fit, especially Span. I think the Braves would only need to give up pitchers to get him, which would be ideal for both sides. Victorino could also be a good buy-low candidate.

    • fireboss

      Being a former Philly has nothing to do with how I would feel about choosing Victorino. If he’s inexpensive and we don;t expect more than 130 games a year as a fallback plan on a short contract he’s fine. I didn’t see much bad about Brantley on defense other than as I wrote a weak arm though I admit as an AL player I haven’t seen a lot of him. I’m not concerned with his slugging percentage as I thought I made clear at the end. I agree Span is the best and wrote that he fills more needs with one player than anyone else. I think he’ll be a prohibitively more expensive than anyone else in trade pieces than anyone else as well. If the Braves intend to do what i think they should and go big now the plan has to allow for that without turning our minor league system into one of the weakest.

      • Lee Trocinski

        It doesn’t make sense to me when people say extra production isn’t needed since his teammates are good enough. By saying ISO isn’t important for a CF, you’re saying there wasn’t much difference offensively between Revere and Adam Jones this year, since they had the same AVG and OBP. I know that’s an extreme example, but a run is a run, no matter who drives it in. Having eight of the same type of hitter doesn’t work, but it’s always better to take the better offensive player, assuming the defense is similar. That’s where the Revere/Jones comparison does a 180, but one can’t just assume that a more powerful hitter is worse defensively.

        As far as Brantley’s splits go, his AVG and OBP against lefties aren’t too good either, but his SLG was the worst stat of the three. Based on UZR (your favorite stat…) his defensive struggles in center are mostly range, while his arm isn’t helping any. He has good speed, but so does the average centerfielder, and he doesn’t have good instincts (as his SB/CS ratio concurs), which drops him below average overall. I’d rather go for Bourjos than Brantley, even though he doesn’t fill the leadoff role. Simmons and Prado could handle the top 2 spots in that case.

        • fireboss

          I have a different view of hitters roles that you and probably have different priorities. My priority is a young, controllable, quality power bat to play left. I don’t want anymore aging budget stand-ins though this year there aren’t many. I believe to get that guy will cost us in trade leaving us without essential trading chips for a Span. So CF is for me priority two unless one is unobtainable.

          My leadoff man’s job is to get on base and worry the pitcher, steal a base or two and force the fielders to make quick decisions they can screw up. I’d be quite happy with a Pierre/Castilla TYPE pairing at the top though I don’t that those guys round. In a perfect world I want a Rickey Henderson or Mike Trout guy but the world isn’t perfect and the Braves passed on Trout to draft Mike Minor. So with a farm system of limited quality trading pieces a guy like Brantley or Revere is okay if I can get priority one. If that option goes away than I have my pieces for Span.

          I see the left field market as uninviting. Swisher is a much over rated player and I have no place for a whiner like him (ooo the Yankee fans are booing me- grow a pair Swisher how long you been a Yankee?) or a guy like Cody Ross who wants 3 years and 25M now but turned down a multiyear deal from us last year. if we weren’t good enough then don’t call now. If I have to take an older player I want Torii Hunter. The team lacks personality and a winning attitude that Hunter carries with him. He’ll want $20m for two years and the Red Sox will probably give it to give it to him. I don’t believe the Twins will trade Willingham though the talking heads throw his name out there when they have nothing else and if you listened to Wren when he was asked he said he’s not interesting in an overpayment for a name.

          I guess my board would look like this for the outfield players:

          Left J Upton (at the cost of almost whatever they want; two pitchers + bethancourt is fine with me, he’s going to be a REAL superstar).

          Alex Gordon / Jonny Gomes or Reed Johnson tandem

          Torri Hunter

          CF Span , Brantley, Victorino – though I doubt he’s an everyday center fielder

          My guess – knowing Wren or my expectations of him anyway – is that he’ll try for a FA prize, lose out and sign a Swisher consolation who’ll hit like he’s back with the White Sox – for left and end up with Victorino in center because he simply can’t part with his pitchers

          • Lee Trocinski

            I think anyone would want a young, controllable, quality bat in left field, but you generally have to overpay to get them. While I’m not much of a Swisher fan, he’s had a wRC+ of 125 or higher the past four years, a mark only Chipper hit last year. I’d give him 3/39, but someone will give him more. Ross pulled a Beltre and will likely suck someone in with the Fenway effect. Hunter’s season was saved by a .389 BABIP, as his power continues to die and his BB/K ratio dropped significantly.

            Upton seems to have a Heyward quality about him, with the ability to be great but no consistency. I don’t know if the Braves have enough to get him. I can’t imagine Gordon getting traded with 4 years left on his contract.

            In center, I would rate my choices Span, Revere, Crisp, Victorino, Brantley. Victorino’s problems all stemmed from his left-handed stroke. He still crushed lefties and played an average centerfield, and his batted ball profile against righties didn’t show signs of worry.

            I still think we could trick the Twins into a quantity of pitchers to get both Span and Willingham. As long as Span stays on the field and Willingham doesn’t fall off a cliff, the Braves would get multiple years of quality players for quite cheap.

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