Three Times a Charm! Can Brian Snitker Adapt Again?

Image

When looking at Brian Snitker and his resume since taking over as the Atlanta Braves manager, you’d be hard-pressed to find anyone that can argue against his success when looking purely at wins and losses.

In 2016, the year the Braves fired Fredi Gonzalez (ya can’t spell Fredi without the letters from fired), the team was horrible. However, excuse my grammatical skills, under Fredi, they were horribler. In fact, I can’t recall a more horribler Braves team.

9-28. That’s really hard to comprehend.

However, when Snitker took over, the team went 59-65 for the rest of the season.

2017 brought much of the same and the team finished 72-90. But 2018…glorious 2018, started the tale we’re telling now, as the team finished 90-72, winning the division and have done so every year since. If there’s a hill to die on, it ain’t the “Snitker should be fired” hill. The players absolutely love him, would run through walls for him (Eric O’Flaherty‘s exact words) and that is much more important than the occasional in-game blunder.

Snitker has shown the ability to adapt in the past. He was fully against hitting Ronald Acuna Jr. in the leadoff position, but thankfully caved to the analytics. When asked about it in a post-game interview after the move caused an offensive explosion, Snitker called himself a “dumbass”. He also allowed Ron Washington to start implementing the shift much more in the latter part of the 2021 season setting off a defensive revolution that would lead the Braves to winning the World Series. For an old school guy, Snitker has trusted the analytics twice and twice it has paid huge dividends.

Third Times a Charm?

The Third Much Needed Adaptation

Dansby Swanson. Matt Olson. That’s the end of the list.

In 2022, there were 2 players that played in every single game and both were on the Braves. Also, Austin Riley played in 159, finishing tied for 4th overall in games played. Playing 159, 160, 161, 162…I can still get behind. It’s not that big of a deal, especially with the whole league DH. If Snitker can adapt…just a little, to allow regulars to get field rest, my complaint box will be empty.

How to Implement Field Rest and Keep a Regular Lineup

For a rotational DH to work, several players need to be able to play multiple positions on the field. For the most part, the Braves could be a flexible team, but Snitker likes his regulars in regular spots and that could cause a problem. Let’s go around the rest of the horn to see who can spot start at a regular position to allow the regular to get field rest.

1st Base

We thought 1st base was easy until we watched Austin Riley try to handle it on one of Matt Olson’s off days and boy oh boy did that go poorly. However, now that Sean Murphy is on the team, he can take a snap or 2 to give Olson field rest.

2nd Base

Ozzie Albies will no doubt be the regular 2B and this position is easy to cover as both Orlando Arcia and Ehire Adrianza can handle 1-day duties.

Shortstop

I have a feeling that if the Braves keep with their plan of Vaughn Grissom as their Opening Day SS, he’ll already receive plenty of time to rest and rest should not be hard to find as, once again, both Arcia and Adrianza can fill in.

3rd Base

This seems to be the most difficult position to find field rest for as Austin Riley has been the guy and no one else has really received many snaps over at the hot corner. However, once again, I think both Arcia and Adrianza are capable of holding it down over there for 6-7 games in a season.

Left Field

This is a position I don’t foresee needing field rest, unless there’s another transaction before the offseason is over. Between Eddie Rosario, Jordan Luplow, Sam Hilliard, and *ugh* Marcell Ozuna, there’ll be plenty of field rest for all.

Center Field

Michael Harris II owns the spot and rightfully so. However, all of Ronald Acuna Jr., Jordan Luplow, and Sam Hilliard have experience in CF and could handle the duties for a handful of games.

Right Field

Ronald Acuna Jr. will be back in RF for most of the year and that’s going to be enough of a treat for us, but giving him field rest will be good for his legs. One could copy/paste any of the OF lists above and it would suffice.

Catcher

At this point, I assume that Snitker is planning on getting D’Arnaud, Murphy, and Ozuna DH at-bats. I’d wager that we won’t get a full-on split at catcher and that Murphy catches closer to 100 games while Travis d’Arnaud gets 60. Assuming Snitker wants to keep their bats in as much as possible, both Murphy and D’Arnaud could see 100-ish games at the DH position, leaving 60 to be covered elsewhere. Splitting that between the 7 other positions should be easy.

The Last and Final Note

Marcell Ozuna really botches this whole thing up. If the Ozuna of the last 2 years is the Ozuna that continues to be, I hope he’s gone by spring. Removing Ozuna from this team opens up so many possibilities on how players could be utilized to get regular field rest. It’s my hope that Snitker sees that and just rests Ozuna infinitely if AA won’t pull the trigger and DFA him.

Author: Ryan Cothran

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

16 thoughts on “Three Times a Charm! Can Brian Snitker Adapt Again?”

  1. Snitker, at heart, is an old-school guy — he wants nine guys who start every day at the same positions and bat in the same order, bench guys who are purely backups, pinch-hitters and -runners, and injury depth, five starters who each take the hill in turn and go as long as they can each time out, and a bullpen very cleanly divided into guys who pitch meaningful innings and guys who do not.

    For better or worse, the team’s been built in such a way that it’s hard to manage it incorrectly. They’ve got very strong frontline talent but very little depth anywhere except catcher, so Snit will be incentivized to ride his horses hard again. For Olson, Albies, Riley, Harris, and Acuna, I expect as many games played as their health permits.

  2. @1
    If he can flex on defense, he can keep his regulars in the lineup, for the most part.

  3. And in general, that’s what the guys likely prefer, too. In general, I think it can be a good idea to give a guy something like the equivalent of five or ten regularly scheduled off days out of 162. (Injuries can turn into rest, of course, but they can also be caused or exacerbated by lack of it.) Most players wouldn’t ask for an off day, out of the pride that’s been ingrained in them since they were kids, so Snit is going to have to proactively take care of them over the long hot summer.

  4. Intuitively extra rest seems like a good idea, but are there really any analytics that say giving Arcia/Adrianza, for example, an extra 20 starts would result in more wins? Because from that angle, intuitively, it would not.

  5. I think the problem is, as always, there are no publicly available metrics around things like player health, much less even squishier subjects like “player tiredness.” It makes intuitive sense that after sweating through July and August in Atlanta, a guy would be running on fumes — and we see that in a lot of our guys’ lower OPS in September — but I am not sure how in the world any of us fans could measure the efficacy of a given scheduled off day in mitigating that effect.

  6. Might not be able to measure effectiveness of “rest”, but it might be possible to measure effectiveness of “day of rest”. Do players perform better after an off-day? Or is that negated by travel?

    (sounds like a pain in the butt to actually look up, so I’m not suggesting anyone do it, but that’s the only method I can think of)

  7. Is the rotational DH a good idea?

    My instinct has always been that it messes with the rhythm of position players to swap them in and out of the DH slot, but maybe that opinion is simply an artifact of my long held resentment for the DH position.

  8. @6 – We want to be analytically driven, but absent data I’m inclined just to trust the guy in the dugout who is in daily contact. If it were me there, I’d probably do it more like Ryan suggests. But the whole analytic value is based on quantifying where assumptions are wrong.

  9. Arcia is actually a league average hitter Vs guys with average fastball velocity or less. He just gets killed by velocity. Seeing this, sub him in games where the opposing starter isn’t a flamethrower and the team could benefit.

  10. I don’t really know what this is but it seems good

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *