Who Is The Braves MVP? … & Other Tidbits

By Michael Jokinen             8/28/13

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(Maybe one day the Justin Upton trade will be known as the Chris Johnson trade)

 

Superstars are fun.  Everyone likes to stare in awe at the exploits of a Justin Verlander or Felix Hernandez.  Everyone likes to have The Best Hitter On The Planet, like Miguel Cabrera, or Albert Pujols when he was Albert Pujols.  People are drawn to the best.  But often, from a front-office standpoint, this star-centric attitude is best left to the adoring fans.

 

Case in point, the Angels.  They have an assemblage of aging stars and big names with bloated contracts.  Maybe you’ve heard, things haven’t gone well for the Angels in 2013.  And with this money staying on the books for the foreseeable future, the Angels find themselves financially handcuffed.  And I don’t even have to give you a rundown on the success rate, from a front-office standpoint, on handing out lavish contracts.  Most of the time it doesn’t pan out for the team making the significant investment.  Meanwhile, teams that emphasize depth and balance – like the Cardinals and Braves – boast rosters full of young talent at affordable prices. These teams might not sport traditional MVP candidates, but they’re model franchises.

 

Just look at the Braves.  Their trade with the Diamondbacks has spring-boarded them into the discussion of best teams in baseball.  They might lack a true superstar, but they’re cholk full of terrific B+ players.  Per Fangraphs, the Braves have seven players – Simmons, Minor, Freeman, Heyward, Upton, McCann, Johnson – who’ve racked up a WAR of 2.4 or better this year.  And of that group, only Chis Johnson and free agent to be, Brian McCann, are over the age of 26.  The Braves have less than $50million in payroll commitments for next year.  This is a master class in how to build a team.

 

Did you know that Andrelton Simmons has the fourth best WAR (3.6) among all N.L. shortstops?  How many shortstops would you rather build around?  Maybe one of Ian Desmond or Jean Segura?  Throw in Manny Machado too, if you want to count him as a shortstop.  It’s crazy how quickly Andrelton Simmons has established himself as one of the best young assets in baseball.  Did you know that Chris Johnson’s .331 batting average trails only Yadier Molina’s .333 for the league lead?  As a Red Sox fan, I can tell you this feels like Atlanta’s version of Bill Mueller.  And rising star, Freddie Freeman, trails only Paul Goldschmidt and Joey Votto in WAR among N.L. first basemen.

 

Damn, it almost feels like Justin Upton is lost in the shuffle a bit.  And that’s a good thing.  A team lacking in superstars, but full of stars.  They’ll have the payroll flexibility going forward to selectively lock up their young talent, much like the Cardinals are able to pick their spots and lock up a player like Yadier Molina.  I wish the Braves and Cardinals well in their postseason drives.  Not only are they classic and proud franchises, but they typify savvy roster construction.

 

– OTHER PEARLS OF WISDOM FROM THIS WEEK –

 

• I still don’t get why more wasn’t made of Boston’s Koji Uehara acquisition this past off-season.  He’s been nothing short of a beast this year.  The Red Sox closer issues were always a bit overblown in my mind, and hopefully Uehara has put any lingering skepticism to bed.  His ERA, FIP, and SIERA are all sub-2.00 this season.  If that’s not super impressive, I don’t know what is.

 

• Don’t be shocked to see one of the Nationals or Diamondbacks climb back into the playoff race.  Everyone is saying both wild cards are coming out of the N.L. Central, but I don’t think that’s a foregone conclusion.  Consider the Nats and D’Backs as legit dark-horses.  It seems unlikely for both to make a run, but it also seems unlikely that both will go out with barely a whimper.  The Diamondbacks are five games out of the wild card, whereas the Nationals are seven games out, but guess what? Of those two teams, my money is on the Nationals making the run.  I think the Nationals have more talent on paper, and their remaining schedule is significantly easier than the Diamondbacks.  Get a load of this: the Nationals have ten remaining series, and of those ten, seven are against the Marlins, Mets, or Phillies.  And their last series of the season is against the Diamondbacks; we shouldn’t discount the possibility that’ll have playoff ramifications.

 

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Posted on August 28, 2013, in 2013, Angels, Braves, Cardinals, Diamondbacks, MLB, Nationals and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. You’re absolutely correct about Uehara for the Red Sox. He has been amazing.

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