Braves 2021 Player Review: The Catchers that Were

Remember that time when Travis D’Arnaud got hurt and the Braves had to fill his spot with 6 different catchers? Me either. What a buhhhhhrutal 3 months that was for Braves fans. All the catchers seemingly had the same disease: decent game calling and a plagued bat. We’ll go through this group as a timeline of 2021 that we’d like to forget.

April-May 2nd: Alex Jackson

Travis D’Arnaud and Alex Jackson got the nod out the gate and right away it was apparent that the Braves didn’t intend to rest D’Arnaud very often, In the 28 games before his injury, D’Arnaud had caught 22 full games and AJax 6. There was a reason for this as AJax was a black hole with the bat, carrying a .258 OPS through 28 PAs.

May 3rd-May 19th: Jeff Mathis

Well…that was fun. The Braves lost a catching tandem in one day and William Contreras carried the bulk while Jeff Mathis played at backup. Mathis ended his Braves big league career with 9 PAs and the dreaded .000 OPS. The good thing about a .000 OPS is it’s only up from there.

May 19-August 11th: Kevan Smith

Kevan Smith was known for a decent bat and a good game caller and only one of those travelled with him to Atlanta. Whether you’re a Catcher’s ERA believer or not, the reason why Kevan lasted so long was pretty simple: Braves pitchers performed better with him. Call it a fluke, if you like, but there was no other redeeming value.

July 7th-July 16th: Jonathan Lucroy

Jonathan Lucroy was a good surprise for a week and, for whatever reason, Anthopoulos let him go. It worked out in the end but not sure as to why they didn’t give him a longer leash.

July 18th-September 9: Stephen Vogt

Vogt was regarded as a clubhouse leader and still had some pop. Unfortunately, he didn’t last long due to injury. Still, his biggest impact might’ve been off the field as his alter ego “The Ref” kept the Braves loose during a rough stretch.

Vogt along with Joc Pederson played a huge part in lifting the team’s spirits as they struggled to turn things around. As outlined by Passan, Vogt’s alter ego, “The Ref”, made an appearance prior to a game on September 9. Somehow fittingly, Vogt pumped himself up as much as anyone else, as hit the only two homers of his Braves tenure before suffering a season-ending hip injury later in the game. Despite his injury, the Braves kept Vogt with the team throughout their postseason run. He was DFA’d on October 8 to make room for Terrance Gore on their NLDS roster.

Jeff Passan

Author: Ryan Cothran

Ryan is the site editor and manager of Braves Journal. Follow him on Twitter.

24 thoughts on “Braves 2021 Player Review: The Catchers that Were”

  1. Also want to point out that Ryan nailed the guys that would be added to the 40-man in Tarnok, Waters, Woods and Wilson. Great job Ryan. Also quite a few interesting names unprotected.

  2. @1 I actually like this tactic. He’s basically saying, “Well, why don’t we start actually seeing the pain of labor unrest before it starts costing us games?” I think he’s trying to show both sides that there’s a lot of pain coming ahead.

  3. The thing is, it’s been pretty clear the owners intend to lock out the players. The commissioner then essentially gave his blessing to the strategy out loud.

    @3, that’s great to see! Here’s something else that’s interesting:

    “We are not sellers,” Maffei answered. “First of all, just starting with the structure we have, while (the team) sits in a (tracking stock), really it would be very unattractive from a tax perspective (to sell). Unlikely to do that. Could we, somewhere down the road, do different things to create optionality around that asset? Surely.”

    Possibilities, as has been speculated for years, could include a spinoff of the Braves by Liberty Media into a stand-alone publicly traded company, which potentially could facilitate an eventual sale.

  4. I kind of agree with Rob Manfred and the owners here. If there’s going to be a labor stoppage, it’s far better to have it when the CBA expires and there isn’t a season ongoing. If the season starts without a CBA, the players are going to set a date for a strike. Just get it over with in the offseason. I don’t agree with very much else of the owners’ tactics, but I agree with this.

  5. @9 A lockout hurts the owners too. If the players aren’t ready to play by the time the games start, then the owners lose A LOT of revenue from missed games. I feel like this is a good-faith attempt by the commissioner to bring the two sides together.

    I’m enjoying the back and forth. The players have their leverage and the owners do too. And I know I’m in the minority on this, but the season’s too long anyway. I don’t want a 60-game season like in 2020, but if missing a few games burns the hand of both the players and owners a little, that’s probably good for the sport long-term.

  6. 7 – Many of the ones you singled out in your article. You could see someone taking a chance on Daysbel, Burrows or Clouse just based on their stuff and the fact that they wouldn’t be terribly exposed in a second tier team’s bullpen. Could see someone taking Dean just for the speed or Slugbauer just for the bat (especially w DH everywhere). I like Jenista more than most, but he’s probably safe as you couldn’t really hide him on your ML roster for a year. Deal could be a sneaky add for someone as well I think.

  7. I think whoever runs the MVP award process needs to state once and for all whether it is a team associated award or an individual only award. Some writers disregard the W/L record of the team, others don’t. IMO, it should be the best overall player in each league. Ohtani was a no doubt AL MVP, I’m glad the team record was ignored.

    @10 I commend him for making his ballot public and giving his reasoning. I don’t understand the lack of respect for Trea Turner. He did have the highest fWAR in the NL. I don’t get the 7th place vote. He would have been in my top 3 probably.

  8. @18 I have very little faith in DOB. AA doesn’t tell the media anything. However, my guess is that AA has made his best offer and Freddie is seeing if he can get a better offer. I just wish it was over. AA also needs to know if he needs to trade for a 1b or not.

  9. Would anyone be pissed if they announced tomorrow that they traded Drew Waters and Kyle Wright for Matt Olson and signed like Kris Bryant or something, but Freddie Freeman signed with the Angels?

    EDIT: According to the trade simulator site, Waters and Wright is very low because they say Wright has no value (I disagree, but whatevs). So I’m adding in Ynoa. So Waters, Wright, and Ynoa for Olson and Bryant signed with just money.

    EDIT EDIT: Yeah, I had no idea Olson was still making almost no money. Please don’t tell me I’m an idiot. Just think it.

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  10. I don’t place much faith in that trade simulator ….. maybe just as a rough idea. I like the idea of an Olson trade though.

    I wouldn’t sign Bryant. He seems like one of those guys that peaked young. 3.6 fWAR last year. He is predicted to get a big contract too.

  11. We’re all blowing in the wind unless we know what the goal is for the payroll. AA says it will increase but how much. I read that with existing contracts and arb eligibles, we are already at last years payroll. Maybe there’s no room for more than $27M for Freddie and even then we couldn’t sign any FAs such as Soler or Rosario. Past experience teaches us that AA makes his biggest moves early – Morton, TdA, and Pina. If we sign Freddie, I suspect Soler and Rosario are gone. If Freddie signs elsewhere then we may have a shot at Soler and Rosario and/or maybe a trade like the Olson suggestion. Which direction is better?

    We can’t ever and will never have everything we want.

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