For a lot of teams, in a lot of seasons, what Vaughn Grissom did this year would’ve been an incredibly noteworthy rookie season.
The 21-year-old infielder debuted in August, launching a home run and stealing a base in his first game, an 8-4 win for the Atlanta Braves in Boston. He kept up that stellar play for quite some time, notching hits in eight of his first nine games.
His rookie season likely wouldn’t have yielded much Rookie of the Year notice as he barely cleared the at-bats threshold, even if he weren’t on the same team as the top two finishers for the award. But it was impressive, even if it didn’t match what teammates Michael Harris II and Spencer Strider accomplished.
In 41 games and 141 at-bats, Grissom slashed .291/.353/.440 while covering second base for the injured Ozzie Albies. He was also good for five home runs, 18 RBIs, 5 stolen bases and 24 runs scored. Those are fine numbers for a quarter of a season, essentially.
He struggled a bit down the stretch, both offensively and defensively, which resulted in losing the primary second base duties to Orlando Arcia for the playoffs. Grissom went hitless in limited action in the National League Divisional Series loss to the Philadelphia Phillies.
Looking forward, it’s difficult to know exactly where Grissom fits in for the Braves. Albies will, without a doubt, take primary second base duties back when he returns for the 2023 season. Grissom did play shortstop in the minors, logging 161 games in that spot over three seasons before he hit the bigs. That – coupled with recent workouts with Ron Washington – has led some to speculate that he could potentially fill the vacancy left by free agent Dansby Swanson.
Still others have pointed to longstanding scouting wisdom that Grissom wouldn’t stick at shortstop long-term. Reports that Grissom – who also played third base in the minors – had been working out in the outfield during the season has fueled a perception that he has a future as some sort of super-utility player for the Braves.
While it’s certainly easy to see where Grissom could fill that role, it doesn’t seem likely that such a slot would be the fit for the Braves, at least not under current leadership. Brian Snitker is not the type of manager to maximize a player like that, preferring to have his regulars play as much as possible except for catcher and the occasional positional platoon.
Only time will tell where Grissom lands – whether in Atlanta or elsewhere.