The Atlanta Braves youngster surprised many when he found success at the plate in 2018 while also earning the starting job at third base. However, things were not as great for Johan Camargo in 2019 as he found himself with less playing time.
Even his defense was down from 2018, which is what most fans have come to appreciate from him the most. A lot of fans even noted a lack of hustle from Camargo throughout most of the 2019 campaign.
That's never a good sign but it can be tough to find yourself in a starting role, contributing to your team offensively to then be relegated to a bench role. However, this does not, in my opinion, mean you should ever half-heartedly play the game.
However, with Josh Donaldson now playing for Minnesota, Camargo has the opportunity to bounce back and prove his worth. There are reports that Johan has been working "exceptionally hard" to get back to form.
This is encouraging but also necessary because he will be dueling it out with Austin Riley for the starting job at third base.
General Manager and Executive Vice President Alex Anthopoulos stated during an interview during Chop Fest that he wouldn't "bet against either guy" winning the job. That's good to hear because competition can be the biggest motivator for young players.
Comparing 2018 to 2019
Let's take a quick look into what changed between the two seasons and how we can use that to project what Camargo will accomplish in 2020.
Offensively is where the biggest drop off happened between each season for Johan and is likely the area of focus he has had this offseason.
2018: .272/.349/.457, .806 OPS, 27 doubles, 19 home runs, 76 RBI, 3.3 fWAR
2019: .233/.279/.384, .663 OPS, 12 doubles, 7 home runs, 32 RBI, -0.5 fWAR
There is a hefty drop in production between those seasons. However, the correlation is also way less playing time. Camargo seems to benefit from being on the field each and every day.
His defense at third base dropped off a bit as well between the two seasons. In 2018 Johan had 7 defensive runs saved (DRS) and an Ultimate Zone Rating per 150 games (UZR/150) of 8.9, which are fairly good numbers and show his range and effectiveness at third.
That effectiveness dropped a bit in 2019 as his DRS dropped to -2 and a -18.3 UZR/150. Now, he did play less third base in 2019 so there is a small sample size there, but his numbers weren't that great at secondary positions either, especially at shortstop where he played the most often.Related Story:How good is Bryant's defense?
His offensive approach changed a bit toward the end of 2019 as he slashed .455/.500/1.182 in 12 plate appearances. So, not a huge sample size but enough to show he had figured something out as he had 2 homers and 3 RBI in that stretch.
Unfortunately, this ended prematurely with Camargo fouling a ball off of his right shin causing a fracture and putting him out for the rest of the year.
It was a shame because he was a big piece of Atlanta's bench and would have been great to have through the playoffs.
So, as you see, there wasn't a lot of success in 2019 to be found for Camargo but when you look back at 2017 and 2018, it isn't hard to see why Atlanta is okay running him out there every day if they decide to.
How good will he be?
Alright, so with those polar opposite seasons, how do you begin to project what Johan Camargo will do in 2020?
Well, my gut says to trust his 2017 and 2018 numbers over what happened last season. Although, I understand any hesitation to do so. That's the nature of baseball though. You never know what will happen.
I'm going to go with my gut and project that Camargo will have a .265/.340/.448 slash line with an .820 OPS,15-plus home runs, and 68 RBI.
He will win the job at third base because I think his bat will play a little better than Austin Riley (I'll be fine if I'm wrong about that).Related Story:Who is the right solution at third base?
Riley showed the ability to play well in the outfield and could fit better there. Camargo didn't have the best luck playing left field. Enough about what I think, let's see what FanGraphs and Baseball-Reference have to say about his projections.
FanGraphs (Steamer projection) has Camargo with a .269/.326/.439 line with a 1.2 fWAR and .765 OPS. They also believe he will have 11 home runs with 46 RBI.
Now, I think that's a fair projection but I think Johan has a chance to be a 2.0 fWAR or better third baseman in 2020.
Baseball-Reference has a similar outlook with a line of .264/.327/.446 and a .773 OPS with 13 home runs and 50 RBI. Those are pretty fair numbers for Camargo and gives a positive outlook on the 2020 season whether Johan starts or not.
It seems FanGraphs and Baseball-Reference believe Camargo will be more of a platoon situation based on the low home run and RBI numbers. I think the eye test can confirm that Johan is a better player than that.
Johan is a solid defensive third baseman and that's always been his strength. I wouldn't expect him to make as many errors this year as he did in 2019. I believe we will see a much more disciplined Camargo that could potentially lead to a Gold Glove season.
Count that as one of my way too early predictions for 2020. If it happens, great, if not, you can all let me hear how wrong I was.
The Atlanta Braves are lucky to have a guy like Camargo who has a lot of upside and can be a huge asset to this team. He will fight for his opportunity to man third base for the Braves in 2020 and I'm excited to see what he can do this year.
What do you think? Will we see the Johan Camargo of 2018 or will the Braves swing a last-minute trade for someone like Kris Bryant? Only time will tell. I believe the former is more likely.