With the DH likely headed to the National League in 2020, the Braves may have a few more at-bats to spread around. As a team, the Braves finished 2019 with a 102 wRC+, the 4th-highest mark in the National League, though they managed to turn that production into 855 runs, fewer than only the Nationals and Dodgers. To repeat at those levels, Atlanta has the difficult task of replacing the production from Bringer of Rain Josh Donaldson, who joined the Twins after putting up 37 bombs, 96 runs, 94 RBIs, and an all-around stellar 6.0 rWAR season in 2019. A regular DH should help.
Atlanta boasts a good deal of depth to utilize in a potential designated hitter role. For starters, there’s the question of whether Johan Camargo becomes a four-down back at third base. Austin Riley may eventually take over the hot corner, but if he doesn’t, there are probably some DH at-bats to go his way. Riley was slated to spend some time at Triple-A, but if there is no Triple-A, the Braves may just as soon bring his light-tower power to the big-league level. Riley definitely struggled closing out his rookie year, but power (.471 SLG and .245 ISO) isn’t the problem. Riley needs to close the gap on his 5.4% BB% and 36.4 K%, but given his youth and potential, he’s probably the guy the Braves want to claim the DH spot (if he doesn’t claim third base outright).
If Riley doesn’t improve the other aspects of his game, then he’s essentially Adam Duvall, another candidate for DH at-bats. Duvall, 31, has a career .229 ISO and .461 SLG at the big league level, numbers that could land him in the middle of the order if it weren’t for other drawbacks to his game. In 130 plate appearances last season, Duvall put together a solid 121 wRC+ showing by hitting .267/.315/.567. That output was bolstered by an absurd .300 ISO. He also had some good luck, as his .306 BABIP was a fair bit higher than his career mark of .271. Duvall could certainly see some time at DH, especially if they want to save Riley for a more stable playing environment, but he has gone just 1 for 3 in posting a wRC+ over 100 when given more than 400 plate appearances. In a short season, however, Duvall has the type of short-burst approach that could perform.
The safer option is to use the DH to rest their four-man outfield of Ronald Acuna Jr., Ender Inciarte, Marcell Ozuna, and Nick Markakis. Acuna will be in there every day, but he can move around the outfield and would probably benefit from a DHing day every now and again. Ozuna and Markakis complement each other perfectly in some ways, with Ozuna the right-handed power bat and Markakis the lefty on-base option, and they can both handle themselves in the field. There’s no reason both shouldn’t be in the lineup, however, especially if Inciarte is healthy enough to spend the better part of most weeks manning centerfield. Inciarte, 29, played just 65 games last season, but he’s a true difference-maker with the glove when healthy (21 OAA in 2018, 20 OAA in 2017). Assuming health, all four of Acuna, Inciarte, Ozuna, and Markakis should find their names on the lineup card most days.
With Acuna taking his spot in right, Markakis might be the guy who gets the most at-bats as the ostensible extra bat. But when southpaws take the hill, the Braves can rest some combination of Markakis/Inciarte while getting Duvall or Riley some run. Both mashed lefties in 2019. Say they go with a straight left-right platoon: Markakis hit .298/.371/.446 vs. righties in 2019, and Duvall (small sample alert) hit .333/.386/.744 vs lefties. Even take Duvall’s career splits versus lefties (.240/.318/.473), and a leveraged platoon of Markakis and Duvall makes for a pretty potent designated hitter.
This post continues a recent series from MLBTR looking at designated hitters options for each team in the National League. Thus far we’ve covered the Cardinals, Reds, Dodgers, Diamondbacks, and Nationals, as well as the remaining free agent options.
I miss markakis
Take him, plz.
Yea me too. Was one of my favorites
still cant believe they’re paying Markakis so little. that guy is a real team player.
outside his first half of 2018, hes barely been an average regular for the last decade. Hes an average bat playing a position where you’re supposed to be a great hitter or at least provide 1 great skill. Markakis’ only appeal these days is hes not a free out and doesn’t K that much.
He’s not good enough to be a regular starter on a contender anymore. It’s sort of a running joke in Braves country that the three certainties are death, taxes, and Snitker batting Markakis in the five hole for 162 games.
Because he has quite a few problems. His defense tanked hard, he’s shown definite platoon splits, especially last year, and he doesn’t have that much power overall. In general he’s fine versus right-handed pitchers, but even then it doesn’t quite outweigh his other flaws. He’s a useful bench bat at this point, sure, but realistically not much more beyond that.
Markakis wasn’t even a leauge average hitter last year. Yet I wouldn’t be shocked if Snit plays him everyday and they re-sign him next year to do it again.
Except he was? Helped by being on the strong side of the platoon splits, definitely, and was just bad versus lefties (and is really a platoon bench bat at this point), but on balance the overall production was around league average.
You’re right, he’s a platoon bench bat at this point. Atlanta hit him fifth in the order. Their lineup was extremely top heavy last year outside of Riley and Duvall each providing a spark when they were initially called up.
The Human Rain Delay
Another in the long line of players who’s stats were greatly bloated playing in Baltimore’s minor-league dimension stadium.
I would certainly hope an aging platoon player who put up 0.4 WAR last year is not Atlanta’s primary solution at DH. I like Markakis and hope he gets 200 ABs and is a potent member of the clubhouse, etc, but there are better options for the position.
As can any team….. this is really a stupid subject. Every team has a hit no glove player in their system so let’s stop with the “who’ll DH” issue. There are a plethora of players who can DH. The AL has the advantage this season as they have prepared for a DH for the past 47 seasons. The NL will figure it out but they’ll be at a slight disadvantage but EVER team can piece together a DH.
Well any team can throw Yasiel Puig at shortstop and call it a day. However, contenders need actual options to play DH rather than just throw someone there.
But apparently you’d rather sit in silence rather than discuss the options these contenders have.
The Dodgers can piece together DH with well above average bats, or the Phillies can roll with a 24 year old AA prospect or Jay Bruce. Fun to discuss the options.
The Dodgers depth is going to give them a big advantage over teams this year with the rosters ballooning. If MLB can piece together at least an 80 game season and postseason, I’ll put my money on them.
Sometimes you learn more staying silent. Not everything spoken is meaningful or necessary.
not meaningful or necessary…much like your original comment
Yeah and besides, there’s not that many full time DH’s anymore, but not zero, though.
The Human Rain Delay
I agree you have to be relative and stack this up vs all 15 NL teams-
Id say ATL has a bottom 5 DH in tow for the NL 2020 so I didnt get the title-
If we are comparing the DH to the pitcher then sure but wheres the relativity in that?
Atlanta is actually in great position for the DH because whoever hits will be better than a pitcher and they can improve their outfield defense. Ozuna isn’t a very good fielder anymore so DH him and put Ender in CF with Duvall in left and Acuna in right and the defense is stacked. You can keep Freddie and Acuna fresh. Riley has a ton of power which plays well there. To say they’re bottom 5 shows how little you understand their depth and versatility.
The Human Rain Delay
Thats my point…………”.You dont get credit for being better than the pitcher”
Everyones got that club in the bag……. Along with the resting players/rotating….your not re-inventing the wheel here, those little “gains” only exist in your mind
Your up against the 15 other NL clubs ONLY as a base to measure off-
Atl’s lineup, imo, was already thin with options and I think if you were being relative you would realize you guys dont have great depth or versatility for that matter-
Markakis Duvall Ender are not good things ? Please your offense was thin last year and thinner/older this year- Theres no Boon here, now a team like the Mets that can splash JD Davis in now every day thats a Boon…..Adam Duvall …please
Be subjective outside of the Marlins the DH will help the Braves the least from the NL East and by that measure will actually be a disadvantage to them within the Division ….ofc relatively speaking if your capable of that
That thin offense put up a whole lot of runs last yr. You can crap on Duvall all you want but the guy crushes lefties. Riley was looking dang good and revamped his swing this spring. Like I said earlier, you obviously know very little about the Braves.
The Human Rain Delay
What I do know is that ATL had the 4th worst WAR in the NL from their hitters 5-9 and was ranked 25th overall in the bigs- Terrible!!
What do you know besides knowing that I know nothing? Oh but like you said earlier right….. Wake up !
But hey I bet losing Donaldson is the key to a better 2020 right?
Sure!! That’s why Yonder Alonso hit .178 last year with the White Sox. Not everybody can DH or even the ones that can lose it.
If you want to win something meaningful, Nick Markakis is best served as a bench bat. How the Braves bat him fifth last year and still should have won the NLDS is a minor miracle.
It was my hope that they would’ve kept Donaldson and added another potent bat. They were at their best last year when Riley and then Duvall were respectively called up. It’s hard to win when your can really only depend on your top four and especially hard when they don’t perform (outside of Acuna).
I was thinking Matt Joyce would be a good option, but I forgot he signed with the Marlins.
I bet Matt Diaz can hit .300 against lefties!
Isn’t the term a three-down back? Fourth down is usually special teams, FWIW.
yeah I never heard 4 down back either…especially in relation to baseball lol. I could be wrong, could be a saying I guess
Yeah, not only is the term “three-down-back,” but it also would’ve been far more efficient (and less confusing) to just say “everyday third baseman.”
came here to comment this as well
I think the term he was looking for is “goal-line back.”
I think the Braves have a lot of good options. With the shorten season however, it will stress the importance of getting the lineup right early on and for players to perform. My gut wants Riley in that DH slot. I think he’s perfect for it. Duvall is fine also.
Of course, every offense benefits. That’s not the argument against it. I love the game either way and my favorite team (Dbacks) can compete regardless, but having the pitcher bat is a completely different style of play that causes teams to have a deeper bench. Bench doesn’t matter as much with the DH.
Tell the dodgers that. They can play matchups the exact same way, it’s just another hitter in the lineup.. to potential switch as the game goes on
You’re really simplifying the amount of strategy still possible.
Yes deciding if a flailing pitcher hitting is the best move can be seen as “strategy” , i see it as. Away to limit the amount of actual pitching you get from your pitchers. Does that K and 1 sac bunt really justify losing 10-20 pitches from a pitcher, because the manager doesn’t want your spot to be 0-3 and needs offense? Eh I’ve watched enough bad baseball to find that boring af
I feel like the point people miss is it’s not just about letting a “flailing pitcher” hit for those of us who hate the DH. It’s about thinking ahead in the game. Will the manager lift the pitcher or let him hit? Will we get a double switch, moving the pitcher’s spot in the order? How will that impact the game if it goes into extras? Who’s the best PH option? Do you ever let a RP hit?
I’m already less enthusiastic about this season because I’ll miss that. Boring baseball to me is when the biggest suspense will be is the SS going to get a breather on Wednesday or Thursday. Yippie. Fun.
That said, this also hurts Atlanta. They’re probably fine against LHP with the options listed. Duvall can’t hit righties though. No clue if Riley can hit anything yet. Markakis is the best LHB of the bunch, and he’s a singles hitting 4th OF at this point. With the majority of pitching being RH, not good.
Again, all your points are valid. But you’re also purposely limiting your starting pitcher so you can double switch with a bench bat that’s likely… bad too? How many teams have a bench that most guys can hold even a 750 OPS. It’s not many
All your points end up with a utility guy being in a big spot and calling it strategy. Most times, it’s just luck after that initial PH appearance and we all know that. I’d rather have a dh bejng a dh and a starter having a shot to throw 7 8 or 9. Why do you think most Cg are in the al now? The damn dh
Ozuna would be my choice for dh. Let riley or camargo, whichever lose 3b job handle the field.
Absolutely not, Riley is a butcher and should be at 1B – cant do that, so DH it is! Ozuna is way better defensively.
Riley graded out pretty well in left field and isn’t bad at 3rd either. He’s has little to no experience at first.
Have you seen the videos where ozuna climbs the wall looking to rob a hr and the ball lands on the grass as he falls off the wall and slams his face on the warning track? That has happened to ozuna at least twice, That is a real butchered play. Ozuna’s defense has gotten worse over the last couple years and he had to be moved to left or right field. Riley actually played better in the outfield than expected, especially considering his recent transition. Ozuna drs is 1 in 1112 innings. Riley had 3 drs in 474 innings. Uzr favors ozuna from last season. Ozuna had uzr of 5.7 and a uzr/150 of 8.6 in ;left. Rileys uzr was 3.3 and uzr/150 of 8.5.. The uzr numbers are fairly close and with repetition riley will likely get better. I pulled stats from fangraphs.
Numbers as Left Fielder in 2019
Austin Riley –
– Zero OAA
– 3 DRS
– (-8) OAA – as in Negative .. as in one of the worst OF’s in all of baseball
– 1 DRS
I know I am late to these posts, but almost everyone knows Marcel Ozuna is horrible in the OF. It’s not a new thing either, as he has been for years, and we are not just talking about his little league arm strength. He should NEVER have won a Gold Glove. That pretty much sealed the deal as GG being the most useless award in all of baseball. Let’s put it this way, for his ENTIRE Gold Glove season, he totaled three DRS. Yep, that’s right, the same number as Riley did in 58 games in LF. Ozuna did have a better range factor for his early years, but last year Riley was significantly ahead of him.
.Ozuna is the butcher. Duvall and Riley are both far better options to actually play in the field defensively.
You wonder if the Braves had known the DH would be forced upon them, they would have been more aggressive in their pursuit of Donaldson.
If not for COVID, the first time the NL would have had a universal DH would be 2021, if then. For the money and contract length JD was asking, it made sense not to get in a bidding war for him.
Not really because even with hindsight, you’re betting Donaldson will produce on the front in with the understanding he may be overpaid on the backend. The hold up wasn’t 2020 or 2021, it was paying him a ton of money in 2023 and 2024. If anything, it justifies it because there’s less or no games in 2020.
I hate to agree with Brandon because I was all-in on keeping Donaldson with the high bid. Losing most, or maybe all of 2020 makes it a better looking decision though. I think he’d have easily been great for 2-3 more seasons, which would be worth taking one on the chin potentially in the last yr or two. You take a season out though and that’s a major subtraction.
Wow. Why does anyone care about how many regular season games he plays? 1, it’s not guarantee atl wins the division without Donaldson
But more so. Just like LA with Mookie, it’s about what he does in October… who cares if it’s 80 or 160 games. Oct is all you Should care about
Except it isn’t. You’re paying for Donaldson’s elite bat and glove. Due to his age there’s a chance, his skills decline on the back half of the deal. The Twins, and really any large deal, usually count on production on the front end with the understanding that the backend, they’ll be eating money.
They won’t get that elite production this year, when it was most likely to occur, but still are on the hook for $21 million in late 30’s.
You’re looking at it honestly in a dumb way. Just because he plays less games this year, his production is not valuable?
Any good team- Yankees, la, Boston most years etc… you play for October. If you win the division who cares if he hit 20 HRs in 80 games or 40 in 160. It’s the same type of production on a per AB or per game basis….
So guys have to do artificially better this year, just because the year is short? Even tho they’re not being paid for the whole year anyways? That’s pretty out there…
Angels & NL West
I don’t see the Braves regularly enough to be an expert, but from a distance, Markakis’ 2019 splits vs righties look pretty good – .298/.371/.446. Seems like he would be a nice platoon option.
Are people concerned about him because he is only a platoon piece or is it that he hits in the wrong place in the batting order? Or both?
Mainly the latter.
He has no speed or power. He’s a singles and doubles hitter that can only righties. He has a good arm and glove but no range on defense. He’s just not anything special, especially for a team with title hopes.
The biggest issue isn’t Markakis himself, really. He’s still useful if utilized correctly. You highlighted his strong suits.
Unfortunately Snitker can’t come to terms with facts. Look at where, and how often he puts him in the order.
Come on now AppOut. Where else is he going to put him? Stop blaming Snit.
1/2/3/4 last year were nailed shut. Acuna, Albies, Freeman, JD.
7/8 – Swanson, Inciarte, Catcher. Swanson is still young and probably better served to bat lower, especially with Markakis working the pitchers. It made sense. And you want Inciarte as a leadoff or second leadoff guy as he is NOT a run producer.
So, 5/6 came down to Markakis or either of McCann/Flowers. While McCann would have made sense at 5, Flowers probably wouldn’t as it would be a second RHB in a row and teams could have played matchup with Josh and Tyler. So, it would come down to whether or not hitting McCann 5th and Tyler 6th would have made enough of a difference to disrupt the flow of a regular 1-5 order.
Honestly, about the only other option would have been to hit Albies 5th and Markakis 2nd. Once Albies took off, Snitker immediately put him in as the second hitter and moved Markakis down. That was a questionable move as Markakis is still a high OBP guy and Albies has the better slugging percentage, but I see two reasons why Snitker would keep Albies second. One, he gets extra AB’s that way and you want that. Two, Markakis is a professional veteran hitter who performs much better than his norm in RISP, Clutch and High Leverage situations the last two seasons. So quite frankly, batting him second is a waste..
Quite frankly, on this team, Markakis hitting 5th is the best spot. I can’t blame Snitker for the Braves 6-8 hitters not giving him decent choices to move Markakis down.
The Braves will not be using a fully optimized lineup if they play Riley anywhere other than DH. What a terrifying prospect.
Acuna-Albies-Freeman-Ozuna-Riley-d’Arnard-Swanson-Camargo-Inciarte is one of the best lineups in the game.
I’m a Braves fan and 5-8 all has question marks. Obviously there’s few players that don’t, but Riley slumped hard, d’Arnard has injury and consistency questions, Swanson has shown flashes but just might be league average, will Camargo bounce back? Inciarte I think will be his normal self, but he’s not elite offensively. I’d say a top ten lineup, but losing Donaldson hurts. Ozuna is not going to replace him.
So Inciarte has some mixed league appeal in fantasy?
What is their old GM (banned for life, which is a joke as compared to the Astros punishment) doing these days? Anyone know?
Why are so many distressed over Markakis as the DH? If you read the article then you saw his splits. Why would anyone have an issue with him batting against righties and Duvall batting against lefties?
Because he’s a singles hitter that doesn’t offer anything on the bases.
25 doubles 2 triples and 9 home runs in a little over 400 AB’s and slugging % of.420 is not a “singles hitter”. He hit a little below his career slugging % in less AB’s and everyone wants to call him a “singles hitter”, the guy is a true professional and a professional hitter. He had 200 less AB’s in 2019 than he did in 2018 and he still did the job required of him, he never has been a power hitter, but then where do you hit him in the line up when he does play.
70% of Markakis’ career hits are singles.
It’s amazing how often singles are picked on but man does everyone love a high OBP (something Markakis has) which is greatly propped up by walks. Anyone ELSE see a contradiction here? No, Markakis is not a perfect player but then most DH’s aren’t. Players like Nelson Cruz is the exception and not the rule. So maybe having Markakis, who is an on base machine against right handed pitching is actually not so bad.
Thankfully the Braves are not managed or run by comments or commenters on MLBTR.
Correct! I find that statement to be true about nearly all fans for all teams and I am NOT the exception. But when I come on these boards I expect to see some pretty wild ideas from crazy posters who don’t see the value in players like Markakis.
You Braves fans are spoiled. Teams could do a whole lot worse at DH than Nick Markakis. The guy is a professional hitter, rarely strikes out and knows how to draw a BB. In a nutshell, he’s a tough out for opposing pitchers.
With the game on the line, if I were pitching against the Braves, I’d rather face Riley, Duvall or even Ozuna than Markakis. Markakis would be the tougher out by far.
Braves fans should count their blessings.
You’d really rather face Ozuna than Markakis? Can’t say I understand that at all. Sure, Nick might be a bit more selective; but who’s potentially going to hurt you more?
What is a Professional Hitter? I don’t really get the term.
Professional hitter. Great clubhouse guy. Scrappy. Gritty. Hard nosed. All code for, “we can’t think of another way to explain why we put this guy on the 25 man roster, so we make up false compliments of a player.” It’s how Jon Jay has fleeced $31M out of MLB owners the last 10 years.
Professional hitter-A guy with a nearly .290 career average as opposed to a guy that hits .250 and below……….You only need to look at Markakis record to know what a professional hitter is, but you don’t understand it. Furthermore, he’s never been a ‘slugger’, he’s got a career 2.1% for home runs and in 2019 he was at 1.9%, so it was a bit down, but then he had 200 less at bats. I don’t know what you’re expecting from Markakis, obviously something he’s rarely been renowned for in his career eg 20-25 home runs and 70-90 rbi’s.. He’s been above 20 hr’s twice and above 80 rbi’s 5 times. He’s a consistently good player..
They’re all professional hitters, you moron. They are all professionals. They all are getting paid as professionals. If they were amateur hitters, they would be in college. This is the MAJOR LEAGUES.
You think Sid is a moron? You didn’t say anything to rebut the point he made. You just decided to pick on his use of the word professional. I guess you looked for something easier to take on rather than tackle the stats.
Sure I did. Professional hitter is a stupid term. What part of my comment do you not understand? To not say all major leaguers are professional hitters is an insult to them.
I understand your comment just fine. You ignored what was important to pick on a term you didn’t like. It looks like you were just trying to find someone to put on blast. Is that what you do? Scroll up and down on these message boards for a term you don’t like and verbally smack people?
Yeah, that’s what I do.
Braves have the pieces for DH, so do the Dodgers, Cardinals, Brewers, Reds, Nats, Phillies, Mets, Marlins, Padres, Dbacks, Rox, Pitt, Giants and Cubs.
Right..there all equal.
They’re all equal too.
Okay. You are concerned for my spelling. You are correct. I should have used they’re.
But you also understood my point and ignored it. They aren’t all equal. But hey, good thing you have something to distract from the point.
I’m confused how people are getting upset by this article. If Riley hits then that’s great, otherwise Ozuna, Duvall, and Markakis will hopefully all find time dhing.
Me too. But then, after posting comments here, FB, Reddit, and several more, my experience is that MLBTR posters are more volatile.