2022 Braves Player Review: Kyle Wright

Baseball saw a new man in 2022. Kyle Wright had been sent to AAA Gwinnett in April and was told he would stay there so he could develop the consistency needed to succeed in the bigs. Mike Maroth, the AAA pitching coach also deserves a lot of the credit for getting Wright to buy into the program and keeping him on the straight and narrow. The 2021 results? 9:3 k/bb with 0.6 HR/9 and 51% ground balls.

While this is a good AAA line, why was it needed you ask. Well, in 71 MLB innings prior to 2022, Wright went 9/6 on the k/bb, 1.57 HR/9 and a 43% GB rate: in short, other than 1 great relief appearance in the playoffs, he was unplayable. Fortunately for the team, the 2021 work carried over. Wright looked good in spring and continued dominating into early May. A couple of bad starts had us wondering again but he soon righted the ship and turned in a good #2 starter’s season; 180 innings, 3.19 ERA (3.89 xERA), 9/3 k/bb, 55.6% GB good for 2.9 fWAR 3.6 bWar and a 10th place finish in the Cy Young voting.

The changes that Kyle made to achieve this are interesting in themselves.

He moved to the extreme left of the rubber to get a better angle to pitch righties inside. This also removed many of the center/center fastballs he used to groove while trying to pitch righties inside.

He threw fewer 4 seam fastballs but used his new angle to put them in better places.

He tightened up his 2 seam fastball so that it became a plus pitch, mainly because it used to be straight to lefties but now has movement away from them. Wish I had a picture!

He threw this pitch way more in 2022 as well.
Curves and changeups now represent 50% of his pitches! They happen to be his most effective offerings so this makes sense.

Pitch Info Pitch Type

SeasonTeamLevelFA%FC%FS%SI%CH%SL%CU%CS%KN%SB%XX%
2018ATLMLB51.6%6.3%19.5%22.7%
2019ATLMLB42.8%11.0%7.6%25.6%11.8%
2020ATLMLB15.7%32.6%14.3%24.1%13.1%
2021ATLMLB35.3%15.8%7.5%27.1%14.3%
2022ATLMLB19.4%24.0%15.4%7.2%34.1%
Total– – –MLB22.5%23.2%13.9%12.6%27.6%

Making Leo Mazzone proud he became much better at hitting the low and away corner. This resulted in 6.8% barrels against (good) and a 4 degree average launch angle (great).

The questions that remain.
Can he continue to be this good? Is there reason to think he can be even better? In my opinion the likelihood is that Kyle will continue to improve in 2023 but will likely see somewhat worse results anyhow. He got a bit lucky with his stranded base runners last year and had a likely unsustainably low percentage of his fly balls go for homers. Even if he does everything else better the reversion to the mean will drive up the ERA. On the other hand, I see no reason he cannot throw 200+ innings as Snitger yanked him early in 2022 in a lot of games.

We have Wright through the 2027 season so I do not anticipate a contract extension but you never know with AA. My prediction for 2023 is a 15-8 record, 201 innings with a 3.48 ERA. That would do.

12 thoughts on “2022 Braves Player Review: Kyle Wright”

  1. If Wright keeps it up and both Soroka and Anderson can either return to form or improve enough, then we certainly won’t need Morton next year and Fried might become expendable (not that I want that to be the case). A rotation of Wright/Strider/Soroka/Anderson/next phenom (Shuster? Elder?) might not be so bad. For 2024, I’d certainly take Fried/Wright/Strider/Soroka/Anderson (or Elder for one of the last two).

    We also can have a very intriguing lineup. I’d propose the following:

    vs. righties

    Harris
    Acuna
    Olson
    Riley
    Albies
    Murphy/D’Arnaud
    Rosario
    Ozuna
    Grissom

    vs. lefties

    Acuna
    Albies
    Riley
    Olson
    Murphy/D’Arnaud
    Luplow
    Ozuna
    Grissom
    Harris

    with Arcia and ???? (Hilliard?) rounding out the bench

    I am hoping this kind of team will start faster out of the gate than previous years and run straight to the title. I’m sure AA will still make some tweaks (maybe another OF?) but it looks like things are pretty well set. I’d say that depth is kinda weak as there’s not a lot left on the farm.

    I also think the Braves will make no more moves (except maybe MiLB signings) until Ynoa and Matzek can be moved to the 60 day IL to open up 40-man slots. That might be why Luke Jackson has not been signed yet – needs to go on the 60 day IL.

  2. I have an idea. Convince Bauer and Ozuna that they have been cast in a big budget buddy movie and then leave them stranded in a dinghy somewhere in the south Pacific. What say you all?

  3. I really enjoyed cheering for Luke Jackson and glad he’s probably moving on. He always had talent, but the slider really turned his career around.

    We’re probably dead and buried in early 2019 if he didn’t serve as a truly above-average closer for us. That continues to be the best season of his career: 72.2 IP, 106 K’S (13.1/9!!), 3.24 FIP, 44th in WPA amongst relievers. And more importantly, he stepped up to essentially save a season that could have gone off the rails.

    Considering he’s a little homer and walk-prone but limits contact, San Fran’s ballpark should be a good fit for him, should he sign.

  4. Anderson either needs an opener or needs to be strictly taken out after 2 times through the order. Unless as the previous posts suggest he finds a 3rd good pitch

  5. Good writeup Karl. I think another thing that should be added is that Wright really decreased the amount of sliders he threw last year. In 2021 he threw a slider about 27% of the time and last season it was only about 7%. Instead he increased his curveball usage, which was obviously a much better pitch for him. It went from 14% to 34% — and he also threw it with more velocity, it went from an average of 80.6 MPH to 84.8 MPH.

    I’m guessing that Charlie Morton is a huge influence on Wright, another reason the Braves brought Morton back.

  6. @9
    I think we’ll be hearing about Morton’s influence on this group of pitchers for a decade.

  7. Nothing gets you ready for the next season any better than the day you spend updating your Retrosheet database to include the just-concluded season. Or maybe that’s just me…. #Nerdalert

Leave a Reply

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