2022 Braves Player Review: Max Fried

Max Fried makes first Spring Training start

If you just look at regular season numbers, last year was probably the best of Max Fried’s career so far. This is particularly the case if you take out 2020, which I still have no idea what to do with in terms of year-to-year evaluations other than pretend it didn’t happen. He went 14-7 with a 2.48 ERA and a 1.014 WHIP. He averaged 7.6 hits allowed, 0.6 homers allowed, 1.6 walks and 8.3 strikeouts per nine innings. Those are mostly career-best marks if you take out 2020 and any year where he was coming out of the bullpen a lot. (He had 17 wins in 2019 and had 9.4 and 8.6 K/9 in 2019 and 2021, respectively.) His 5.31 strikeout-to-walk ratio was an easy career best, as he punched out 170 hitters while walking just 32.

I’m sure everyone, including him, much preferred how his 2021 ended (triumphantly pitching the Braves to their first World Series title in 26 years) to how his 2022 did (catching a nasty virus of some sort and having that zap his ability to do much about an early playoff exit), but the fact remains that he’s on the shortlist for best starter in the National League.

Most folks seemed to forget about him when it came time to think about the Cy Young Award, to the point where many liked Kyle Wright’s chances at it better than Fried (while acknowledging that there was almost no way anybody but Sandy Alcantara would actually win it). Not to drag Wright, who had an outstanding breakout 2022 season, but this struck me as a bit odd, given the only thing pointing to Wright having a better year was the win total, which I thought everyone had self-congratulatorily agreed didn’t matter. When it came time for the voting, though, there was Max Fried finishing (an albeit very distant) second to the unanimous winner, Alcantara. In fact, if the award were for “most valuable pitcher” instead of best pitcher (which it’s very much not, to be clear, and this hypothetical is pretty much only there to eliminate the unanimous winner for the crime of playing for a crappy team), I’m pretty sure Fried would have won it.

He’s a true ace and the best Braves pitcher since the Big Three. Barring injury (which is the big caveat you have to throw out there with all pitchers), there’s no reason to think he won’t be among the best pitchers in the league again in 2023. Pencil him in at the top of the rotation and consider that covered until proven otherwise.

The Braves have Fried under team control for two more years. It seems to be a growing fait accompli that 2024 will be his last in Atlanta, but I’m not quite ready to assume he’s gone just yet. For one, I don’t think it’s particularly good business to just let all of the pillars of your franchise who won’t take a team-friendly deal walk out the door as a matter of course. I also think that if the Freddie Freeman situation could be handled again by all involved, he’d probably still be in Atlanta and this wouldn’t be as much of a topic (Dansby still would’ve been gone at the salary he got).

But even if Fried does wind up leaving, that still gives us two more years to watch one of the best pitchers in baseball head our rotation. Let’s worry about 2025 when we get there, and maybe Fried and Anthopoulos will surprise us in the meantime.

71 thoughts on “2022 Braves Player Review: Max Fried”

  1. @bravesword from last thread:

    It’s DOOOOOOOOOMED mentality to think 1/3 of the lineup could be punt-worthy, especially when Olson, Albies, Riley, D’Arnaud, Murphy, Harris, and Acuña exist. IMO, Snitker will try to keep both D’Arnaud and Murphy’s bat in there as much as possible.

  2. I’m not ready to imagine Max in another uni either and it is a little amazing how low he flies under the radar. Glad we got him.

    BTW, he’s 54-29 overall — a .684 winning percentage. At this point, he’s probably more Don Gullett (#7, .686) than Clayton Kershaw (#2, .694) on that list, but I’ll take it. He’s our ace.

    From last thread, #27
    Reggie, Catfish & Fingers were the obvious stars, but Bando, Tenace & Campaneris were among the great underrated guys on the threepeat A’s teams.

    And that bunch had a crazy knack for winning close, low-scoring games in the post-season.

    In the 6 post-season series the A’s played between 1972-74 (their 3 straight title seasons), they played 19 one-run games and they won 14 of them. In every game they won, the scores were 4-3, 3-2, 2-1 or 1-0.

  3. The longer Andrus sits, the more I think AA will low ball him an offer as Grissom insurance.

  4. @1 — I have a difficult time imagining that Snitker will manage a rotating DH all that well, especially when the best option is his other catcher. Snit has many sterling qualities as a manager but handling time sharing arrangements that aren’t single-position platoons isn’t one. I think it’s more likely you get Rosario and Ozuna stinking up the joint basically every day, and if Grissom doesn’t hit on top of that, you are indeed looking at a third of the lineup not providing any value.

  5. Lineup vs RH – alternate rh and lh hitters.
    1. Acuna, rf
    2. Harris. Cf
    3. Riley. 3b
    4. Olson 1b
    5. D’arnaud. DH
    6. Albies, 2b
    7. Murphy, c
    8. Rosario, lf
    9. Grissom , ss

    Lineup vs LH pitcher

    Acuna, rf
    Albies ,2b
    Riley,3b
    Olson, 1b
    Murphy, c
    Ludlow, lf
    Harris , cf
    Ozuna, dh
    Grissom ,ss

    Thoughts on these lineups ?????

  6. It’s hard for me to believe that AA, a very smart GM, has been spending all of this time and capital on players he knows his manager won’t use.

  7. @4, I actually don’t buy that criticism of Snit. I think he managed the rotating outfield in 2021 as well as anyone possibly could have.

  8. Other than the injuries that their decisions may ’cause’, DAE think that managerial ‘rankings’ and evaluation other than wins and losses are inherently superfluous. Their only job is to win games. How they do it, other than potentially injuring their players, due to over usage doesn’t really matter. If I was a manager and knew a secret to teach players how to bunt successfully 80% of the time for a hit, and everyone bunted every time up to bat, and my team won 120 games, it would be no different as a manager if another manager just got a bunch of softball hitters to hit 3 run homers IF they also won 120 games.

    The fact is that Snitker is probably the 2nd best manager in Braves history, and if he wins another WS and 4-5 division titles, he’d be approaching 1A territory.

  9. @6 — Did he? By my reckoning, AA acquired exactly one bonafide no-questions major league position player this offseason (and he subtracted one from the roster in so doing, so not exactly an complicated playing time situation to sort out). Everyone else has basically been a flier.

    I’m not going to lie and say I haven’t found AA’s winter to be extremely uninspiring. He started with a great team and probably still has one, but he hasn’t done much of anything to fill in what gaps there are.

    Like, it could work out. I hope it does. But I hate the idea of building a team on the “Hey, anything’s possible” principle.

    @7 — That’s true. I still think it’s more difficult to do with a catcher that with a selection of mostly-interchangeable outfielders though.

  10. Nice write-up other than the best Brave’s pitcher since the big 3 was named Javy Vasquez. It isn’t his fault he got traded for Melky :(

  11. @9
    You’re right that Snitker didn’t rotate the DH last year and he might not do that again this year, but Braves catchers received 819 PAs last year and that’s enough proof that. I’d be willing to bet that we will see a repeat of these numbers in 2023 and that likely equates to 1/2 of the DH’s PAs.

  12. @11

    Yeah, we literally just last year had a catcher used at DH about 60% of his plate appearances. Now, if bravesword wants to make the unfalsifiable point that Contreras was only used at DH because they didn’t like him behind the plate, that won’t be true for Murphy, and therefore Snit can’t be counted on to do it again, then sure, you can make that point.

    I just wish Ozuna could just show up in shape. C’mon, man, have some respect for yourself. I conveniently forget that while it’s still unacceptable, his 89 OPS+ wasn’t as bad as I thought it was.

  13. Marcell Ozuna could show up in the “best shape of his life” and he’d still be a jerk who can’t hit any more.

  14. I’d say Contreras was used at DH because he was our best DH, and while neither Murphy nor d’Arnaud are likely to hit as well as Contreras, whoever isn’t catching will still likely be our best option at DH, so 800 PA is not out of the question. Murphy had 612 PA last season by himself.

  15. Andruw was my favorite player as a kid. Looks like I got 2-3 years to save up and plan a trip to Cooperstown.

  16. DOB says that Chip will leave for the Cardinals job.

    Great trade. Who’d we get? (to replace him)

  17. I would think the move is to give Ingram the big job. He’s earned it, and he’s the best man for the job.

  18. I’ve never been more excited for Braves news that wasn’t player related! Chip was a hack.

  19. Furcal rule. We want our faces egg free (it’s too expensive to walk around with something as valuable as it was in 1869 in Virginia City, Nevada.)

  20. Cliff, if I want to walk around the house in my wife’s silkey underthings then I’m going to do so, as god intended!
    and
    Ding dong the Chip is dead!
    Which old chip?
    (the annoying chap)
    Ding Dong the wicked Chip is dead!
    He’s gone where the goblins go
    St Louis, yes westward ho
    Let’s open up and sing,
    And ring, and sing the bells out
    Ding dong the merry ho!
    Sing it loud, sing it low
    Let us know the wicked Chip is exasperating some other fanbase :)

  21. Very much looking forward to watching Braves telecasts without being driven to expletives by the play-by-play broadcaster. Here’s hoping the powers that be make proper fly-ball judgment a prominent attribute in their search.

  22. I didn’t think Chip was so bad. But I fear I could be under the effects of years of conditioning. Like getting used to a stinky bathroom.

  23. @26. Yes Cliff. I spend a lot of time in Az in the winters now and the news lately has been heavy on how the agents on the border are dealing with lots of egg smugglers. And I just paid a kings ransom for 10 hot wings today. Crazy to think people are smuggling eggs in from Mexico instead of drugs.

  24. Whatever you think about Chip, it isn’t lost on me that it’s only been 14 months or so since Will threw the pitch that led to the grounder that Dansby fielded and threw to Freddie, and now all three of those are gone and so is a guy who’s been in the Braves booth since 2005. We’ve also lost Joc, Soler, Duvall, and Jackson (who else am I missing?). The business of baseball is…depressing at times.

  25. I’m sure I’ve said this before: in the rare moments when Chip stopped forcing himself into the cookie cutter of what a baseball color commentator “should be,” he was good.

    I also recognize that we’re the weirdos here and by radiating such lame dad cliché energy at all times, Chip was appealing to normies everywhere. We shouldn’t expect his successor to be terribly different.

  26. #35
    And now, with the transfer portal, you get “free agency” every year.

    #18
    Seems like Chip is attempting to complete the circuit of father/grandfather’s former employers. (Next stop: Chicago White Sox.)

  27. Baseball games are 3 hours, and I’ll usually watch around an hour and 45 minutes in a given night, and I can’t say I’ve ever been interested in everything any announcer has said in the entire game. So if a guy blunders, it just doesn’t really bother me. But in that 3 hour game, there are about 5-6 plays that have a huge impact. And baseball is entertainment, and I like to be entertained. So when those 5-6 plays happen, I want maximum entertainment. Chip’s calls on those important 5-6 plays are some of the best in baseball, and I hope the Braves get someone who can deliver the way Chip did. Ingram can. Few can.

    The Florida Gators had a long time announcer Mick Hubert. He retired last year, and they replaced him with Sean Kelley. Mick Hubert had max energy and max enthusiasm when Florida had a big play, and those calls are still exciting and iconic years later. Kelley just doesn’t deliver that, though he overall does a very good job. If you’re asking me what I’ll put up with to get max enthusiasm and max energy when the big plays of the game happen, it’s a lot.

    Imagine being a Florida fan (gross and disgusting, I grant) while listening to the first 30 seconds of that video.

    I hate to keep posting games vs. Tennessee, but they did give up the butt a couple times there.

    One more if you’re interested. And Chip brought that to me as a Braves fan, and I demand the same from the next guy.

  28. On the contrary, a sportscaster, like a good musician, needs to know when to lay out, especially if he’s on TV.

  29. Yes, this. This is how fans think. No one’s posting Twitter videos and doing this for what the announcer says about analytics during the 4th inning of a August day game against the Kansas City Royals. WGAF. They’re just filling time.

  30. That Sims call is terrific. I don’t know him, but he looks great. I’d never say no to bringing back Boog Sciambi, either.

    As ever, I remain the world’s biggest Jim Powell fan. Sure, he’s a bit boringly professional, and doesn’t jump out of his shirt too often, but he gets excited for the good plays, calls out the team and the umpires on their miscues, and hits every mark: the Waddy Wachtel or Steve Buscemi of broadcasters. Put the guy on TV and every single color commentator you rotate through the booth will look like a star.

    That said, Treavor Scales on the Bally Sports South studio show seems to do a good job in the moderator’s chair. Again, since these days the TV play by play frequently revolves around the color guys or guests in the booth in any given inning, orchestrating two or three or four guys is a real art. I don’t know how Scales is on PBP, but I find him an engaging personality and while I’ve never learned anything from him, I’ve also never been annoyed by him.

  31. Chip seemed like a legitimately nice guy, so I will wish him well.

    However, I can’t say I’ll miss his terrible depth perception, his stubborn refusal to learn about analytics, or his constant conversations about how the game was better 40 years ago.

  32. When I moved to the NYC area in ’90, Dave Sims was a late-morning WFAN co-host with Ed Coleman. I’d listen to them as I commuted out to Long Island every day. I thought they were great — Sims was a Philly guy, Coleman from Boston. Funny, informative, just enough East Coast edge, and none of that dumb morning-radio “guy talk.”

    Of course, they didn’t do enough ratings, so they got split up. Coleman was handed the Mets beat-reporter job & Sims ended up becoming a local TV sports anchor, then he bounced around at a variety of gigs. Seems like the play-by-play job is perfect for him.

    #39
    So, you’re saying the UF announcer got out just time?

    #44
    Some might argue that point, especially those who stumbled onto Chip’s Twitter feed. But I digress — I’ve punished him enough.

  33. @45

    Haha, sadly no. He still had to announce a lot of bad football towards the end.

    He also announced for 3 national championship-winning games. Wonder if anyone in Athens has done that…

  34. I found Chip neither especially compelling nor annoying, except when he would wake me from a nap over a fly ball to the warning track. Watch the outfielders, Chip. They know.

    I wish him well, and next person up.

  35. #46
    Ask me this time next year… [He says as the sips from this season’s commemorative coffee mug…]

    But… good luck w/ Vandy — I hear you get them at home this season.

  36. @ 46,

    Our guys were the same guys in the booth for 2nd and 26. You didn’t limit it to the team that they were calling for “winning” the national championship games.

  37. I think the fist shakers of the world really enjoyed Chip because he could steer his cohosts toward negativity about the current state of the game. He did that with joe. He did that with Brian Jordan. He was unsuccessful baiting Jeff Francoeur, Paul Byrd, and Peter Moylan. Ben Ingram makes everyone around him better that’s why I want him. He’s the perfect pilot.

  38. Szymborski, who runs ZiPS, notes that his projections have our top 7 relievers with ERA+s of 110 or better, where 100 is league average. That works.

  39. Wow. That ZiPS projection is nutso. It basically says all of our kids are above average. The projection of Grissom being a two-win player, like immediately, after not much minor league experience and not much major league experience, suggests my fears are overblown and maybe the kid will be okay. I am not completely mollified, but I have to admit that the math could be right and if it is, the team made a completely defensible choice, as much as I wish they’d just done the obvious thing and paid Dansby his money.

    Alex Anthopoulos is extremely good at his job.

  40. Based on the HoF voting, it seems likely that Billy Wagner will get in either next year or 2025, and Andruw’s on a positive trajectory too. Sheffield will need a big push in his last year on the ballot, but he’s within striking distance. Along with Crime Dog getting in via the VC, a good showing for former Braves.

  41. I vote for Dave Sims. But only if he wears that hat.

    @53 The thing about baseball teams is they all have a few holes. Especially before spring training. The bar is so high with the Braves that a player we thumb our noses at may be very welcome on another squad.

  42. I am so happy for Rolen. I’ve been a pretty loud supporter of his Hall of Fame case.

    (But the best third baseman from Rolen’s era is Alex Rodriguez.)

  43. I was away a couple of days.

    O. M. G.

    I am drinking heavily this evening. No one looks more forward to retiring Chipwatch than me. And the Cardinals are a perfect spot for his most unctuous “our game” observations.

    I’m not saying his replacement can’t be worse, but he (or she) won’t be.

    Anyone suggesting Kevin Burkhardt? Or he
    Is he too expensive to get from Fox, assuming the Braves would be willing to do without him in NFL football season.

  44. @42

    I occasionally get sick of Tom Hart (he seems to broadcast eight out of every nine Tennessee basketball games on ESPN/SEC Network), but all in all we could do much worse. Of all the names mentioned on here so far, he seems the most likely.

  45. So the Huntsville Trash Pandas have another one of Skip’s sons doing play by play – Josh Caray. I wonder if he could be worse than Chip.

  46. @63 – When Skip made his master plan for Carays to rule Braves broadcasting for eternity, I guess he was thinking a little insurance would be nice.

  47. Not for nothing, but I’m getting really excited about Ronald Acuña, Jr., you guys.

  48. As someone who may or may not have watched the games for many years via… non-sanctioned means, Chip is who made me finally break down and get an mlb.tv subscription— so I could replace him with the radio booth. (When one may or may not use said non-sanctioned means, one gets stuck with the TV crew.) Seeking alternatives to Chip also drove me to discover the Mets’ booth, and I got into the practice of watching their feed whenever we played them, as the more laid-back tone of their broadcasts was way more my speed than our current Bally iteration, and they also featured 100% less Chip. Anyhow, godspeed, ChipWatch.

    Idk what the deal is between the Braves & Jim Powell (DOB said something cryptic on his podcast recently-ish about the brass choosing to go in a different direction, but it sort of seemed like there was a story there we weren’t getting), but to echo @43, I’d love to see him get a shot. He’d be great.

  49. @49 Oh, yes, I did! I said “national championship-winning games”. If you want to add appearances, Hubert has 1995 too.

    @48 Ask any UGA fan if he would trade some lean years from 1980-2021 if it meant a title during that time.

    UGA will be the odds-on favorite to win their 3rd title in a row, I grant, so “I’ve seen more titles in my lifetime than most UGA fans have seen in theirs” line may expire soon. Until then, they’re part of a list of teams who have won 2 natties in the modern era.

    Forgive me if I’ve asked this already, but what is the percentage odds Kirby leaves UGA within the next 5 years? It has to be in the single digits.

  50. @68 Winter league and MLB very different for that kind of thing. It’s why so many Latin players get culture-shock when they’re told to “respect the game” and “play the right way.”

    Ronald bopping around like that is playing the right way by winter league standards.

  51. Word is that Acuna withdrew from that league because his family was getting harassed in the stands. I’m not sure if that’s true. If it is, then I think the two cultures are starting to converge on each other. MLB is loosening up and Latin leagues are tightening up, maybe?

    https://fansided.com/2023/01/25/ronald-acuna-home-run-venezuela-league/

    I love Ronnie. He’s awesome, he plays hard, and he’s trying to do right with a lot of cultural pressures on him. Sometimes I’m too harsh on him too.

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