2020 Topps Total Baseball (Wave 4) #378 Darren O'Day Atlanta  Braves Official MLB Trading Card Online Exclusive Limited Print Run:  Collectibles & Fine Art

I’m glad I didn’t use ink, because pencil I can erase. Darren O’Day at $3.5MM with a $500K buyout after having a remarkable 2020 season? Surely, a no brainer and even put it up as a no brainer in my Braves Payroll Piece, then 2021 told 2020 to hold my beer:

  • Darren O’Day option declined (along with tons of other talented players that became free agents due to the uncertainty of 2021)
  • Brad Hand put on release waivers and PASSED THROUGH WITHOUT GETTING PICKED UP BY ANYONE
  • Kevin Gausman gets a qualifying offer after being 2 team’s garbage in the last year and a half.
  • Alex Cora re-hired by Boston after being head cheatleader.

But this piece isn’t about all that other crap. It’s about a 37-year old that pitched like a badass but recency bias will not remember that until I make it remember. And no, he wasn’t that bad in the postseason.

Darren O’Day 2021

There’s 0 way to project whether O’Day would’ve been able to maintain dominance for a season of 162, but he was bloody brilliant in 60. While only pitching in 16.1 innings, and never in back to back games, O’Day carried a 1.10 ERA, a 2.8 BB/9, and a 12.1 K/9. It’s a career best ERA for the 37 year old and his 2nd best K-rate of his career.

Many assume that because O’Day is a sidewinder that he’s vulnerable to the lefty bat. And while it may be true that LHHs hit him better for his career, it wasn’t true in 2020 as he dominated both (.432 OPS vs. RHH, .457 OPS vs. LHH).

The Advanced Metrics

It’s very rare that someone carries a 1.10 ERA for a season and advanced metrics show true to the ERA and O’Day is no different. Both his FIP and xFIP are much larger and that likely has to do with an insanely low BABIP against of .194. As the statheads say, that is unsustainable. *Visions of Chris Johnson’s .394 BABIP in 2013*

However, O’Day was a MONSTER at limiting hard contact. While he didn’t meet the number of innings to qualify, he would’ve been in the top 2% of the league (along with teammate Max Fried) in average exit velocity against as opponents averaged 83.9 MPH off the bat. Basically, the entire league hit him, on average, like cloned Ender Inciartes.

Darren O’Day 2021?

O’Day, originally Odachowski 3 gens back, shortened to Odach by his grandmother, then finally O’Day by Darren’s father and uncle, is currently a free agent. The Braves made a bit of a shocking move by letting him walk, but Peanut (Mark Bowman) seems to think that the Braves would like to retain his services but didn’t want to meet the $3MM price tag. Seems odd to me, but what do I know? There are some unanswered questions:

  • Is he retiring?
  • Will Braves re-sign him?
  • Did he request the buyout so he could spend his last year with Baltimore?
  • Was the option not being selected an endurance reason, not a performance reason?
  • Is Odachowski the greatest name for an eatery in a ski town?

Questions abound, but if I were a betting man, I’d bet O’Day wants to O’Stay with the Braves and $2MM sounds about right for both parties.