El Oso Blanco (by Smitty)

Evan Gattis is not just a great baseball player. He is the greatest human being ever.

1845: El Oso Blanco publishes the rules of baseball.

1879: Assists Thomas Edison in inventing the light bulb.

1903: After years of attempting to launch the first airplane, the Wright Brothers contact Gattis, who promptly throws the plane from Ohio to North Carolina.

1945: Wins World War II

And so on, and so on…

Actually, Gattis was everything he was advertised to be: a raw hitter with a ton of power and a possible liability behind the plate.

In 382 plate appearances, Gattis hit 21 home runs, walked 21 times and hit 21 doubles. Maybe he should change his number to 21. His power numbers are huge, but it was evident that he has a ways to go to be a more complete hitter. It also probably didn’t help that he was trying to learn to play left field while having to figure out how to hit Major League pitchers.  His batting average is about 30 points higher (.236 vs .260) against LHP. Coming off the bench, he was 7-14 with four homers.

Gattis is the front runner to be the starting catcher, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see him platoon with Gerald Laird and Ryan Doumit some. I also wouldn’t be surprised to see him play left field if B.J. Upton struggles again.

This could also be the year Gattis becomes a breakout star. The Braves will give him a chance to show what he can do before deciding if Christian Bethancourt is ready. If Bethancourt is raking on the farm and Gattis is slumping, they will probably call him up. The Braves are fortunate to have pretty good depth at catcher.

I expect Gattis to become a more consistent hitter. Focusing on playing one position and playing four to five days a week will help. It wouldn’t be impossible to see him hitting 25-30 HR with OPS of .790-.810, with a relatively low OBP and high slugging. Of course, if he can’t make the adjustments, he could be relegated to the bench or even sent down to figure things out.

What am I saying? He will hit 85 homers, hit .400, balance the Federal Budget and declare world peace.

25 thoughts on “El Oso Blanco (by Smitty)”

  1. The Kimbrel hand-wringing continues to highly amuse me. We had people on here predicting that Kimbrel would get $10 million this year. He’s asking for $9 million, so that’s the maximum he’ll get, and he probably won’t get that, yet now people are suggesting we have to trade him and get nothing in return at that. You guys are nuts.

    It’s not a bad thing to have the best closer in baseball on your roster. And we can afford him at $9 million this year. We’re not freaking salary dumping him. Seriously, folks…chill.

  2. @2 Salary dumping and trading a player at absolute peak value right when:
    A)Said player is about to get expensive
    B)When there’s likely a pretty good replacement for him in the system (albeit, not a closer as dominant, but someone that can scrape together a 1.5-2 WAR season at 7% of the cost.

    Highly different scenarios. I advocated trading Medlen this offseason but he still seems to be underappreciated by MLB and the return would probably be less than fair. However, Kimbrel’s value has sky-rocketed and he could have, and still could, bring back a pretty awesome package.

  3. 2: If he gets 9 million this year, next year they will salary dump him for no return. That’s just what will happen. Be as optimistic as you like, the economics just don’t work for this team to pay an arb-2 closer $14 million.

    I don’t think he’ll get 9 million this year, but there’s definitely a risk. He’s the best closer ever to this point in his career, and the arbitrator might just give him what he’s asking.

  4. @Adam from last thread

    I recognize that MLB doesn’t care about my kid in particular, and I also grant that MLB is not a paragon of virtue when it comes to this (or most any) issue. However, I think it’s a good thing that they seem to be trying to get anabolic steroids and similar substances out of the game. We obviously disagree on the details of that effort, but hopefully you can at least agree with me on that.

    Regarding Gattis and Kimbrel: for my money they are two of the most fun players to have on a team. I think Smitty’s projection for Gattis’ production is pretty spot-on (by the way, Smitty, nice write-ups on both Gattis and Chris Johnson). I imagine Gattis will benefit from some consistency in playing time and position, and he’ll continue to hit bombs and strike out. Kimbrel, well, I’m just going to enjoy him while he’s healthy and on the team.

  5. @7
    There’s no denying that he’s the best closer in baseball, but he’s asking for 2.75 million more than any closer has ever made in their first year of arbitration. Sure, Kimbrel outsaved Papelbon (the other comparable case) by quite a bit during their 3-year periods, but their WARs are the exact same (both 9.1).

    I just think it’s excessive.

  6. says Smitty he’s simply colosso
    no teeth, superfluous flosso
    says Snowden no ways
    to steal what he says
    says Putin, in Sochi, ELOSSO!

  7. my projections for Gattis this year…

    for one twentieth of the cost…

    he will exceed McCann’s last year’s bat production, marginally, through July.

    he will annihilate those numbers for August/September.

    he will not disappear in the post season if there is one.

    he will end the season a better defensive catcher.

    he will still be learning to call a game/frame a pitch.

  8. @5, We’re agreed on that.

    I feel like how Gattis’ season goes depends a great deal on B.J. Upton.

    If B.J. can rebound, I like Gattis to improve some on last year. If B.J. is benched at some point before the ASG, I’d be happy to take a repeat of last year and him being an above-replacement-level player.

  9. Trade? Sure, if there’s value. Everyone’s on the table at all times. You just have to make sure you’re getting back better than you’re giving.

    Salary dump? You guys realize that even with everyone’s projected arb raises, this team is looking content to go into ST with a payroll *lower* than last year’s, the fact of $25MM in new TV money totally notwithstanding? The payroll, in real, non-inflation-adjusted dollars, will be as low as it’s been since 2000, barring another move. They could pay Kimbrel $20MM this season and be fine. If they salary dump Kimbrel or anyone under these circumstances, I’m going to find something else to spend my hard-earned cash on this summer.

  10. Gattis has to be more selective at the plate to be successful. He was hacking at everything at theend of the season.

  11. Yes, he was. I think the offseason will help him. He has serious flaws, but he didn’t completely fall on his face. He had to learn a new position on the fly even while learning how to hit at a major league level. If he can improve his contact rate he’ll be a regular for a decade. If he can’t, he might still be a backup for a decade.

  12. 13: You say they could “be fine” paying Kimbrel $20m more this season. Except… the owners, the people who sign the checks, will not let them just merrily shoot up to a $110m payroll. You can be mad about this (I definitely am), but to pretend it’s not the reality in the face of massive evidence to the contrary is going to make you unable to understand what the Braves are doing and unable to predict what they will do next.

  13. @16

    For God’s sake… They have factored in the arb raises for this year. They knew they were gonna have to pay Kimbrel at least $7 million. Two extra million is not going to cause them to dump him for nothing. Can we wait until next year for next year’s Kimbrel freak out please?

    Trading him is a separate matter and a separate argument, but dumping him for nothing is totally unnecessary, and not going to happen. They’ll know more or less what he’s going to make in arb next year, so if they think they need/want to, they’ll trade him before this point next year. And they’ll get something in return. It may not be as much as we want, but it won’t be a salary dump. If we were gonna trade him this year, we already would have, and gotten something for him.

    Yeah, pretending we have $120 million to spend is stupid and pointless, but pretending like we’re currently the bleeding Expos and can’t afford anyone ever and, what’s more, have to throw them on the garbage heap for no return is equally stupid and pointless.

  14. There is little more amusing than watching the look on Jim Harbaugh’s face as the fact that they’ve failed washes over him.

  15. The 49ers are to the Falcons as the Dodgers are to the Braves: the old rival separated by realignment that trashed our most recent postseason hopes.

    On top of that, Jim Harbaugh and Colin Kaepernick are both highly unlikeable in the first place.

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