Braves Baseball: Early Grades for All of Atlanta's Offseason Acquisitions
At the start of the season, I handed out some grades for the Atlanta Braves' offseason acquisitions. Although the Braves were less active than many of their competitors, they made a couple of impactful moves, especially to bolster the starting rotation.
Through the season's first month, some of these moves have panned out, while others have yet to get off the ground. Checking back in on the moves and how they have helped or hurt the franchise in the early going, the following grades are based on each player's 2014 performance alone.
I am not attempting to determine the future of each player, nor who will be the best and brightest acquisition come year's end. This April report card is strictly discussing who has had the biggest impact on the team and done the most to help the Braves reach their current record.
Aaron Harang has been unexpectedly masterful so far in 2014. Not only has he been Atlanta's best pitcher, but you could make a strong case for him being the best pitcher in baseball through the month of April.
In 31.2 innings (five starts), Harang has allowed three total runs. He has struck out 33 batters while only allowing 28 total men to reach base. Although his 0.88 WHIP doesn't currently lead the league, his 0.85 ERA does.
To put Harang's 2014 April in perspective, he has accumulated 1.4 wins above replacement this month. For his 13-year career, that figure is better than all but five other complete seasons he has pitched.
He is 3-0 with a 1.95 ERA and 0.97 WHIP. Santana is striking out more than 10 batters per nine innings and has walked just five total men all season.
Santana has been so good that his FIP (fielding independent pitching) is actually lower than his ERA, at a mark of 1.89. This means—removing factors out of his control, such as the defense playing behind him and the batting average of balls in play—Santana has performed even better than his miniscule ERA would indicate.
Santana is being overlooked a bit on this roster because of the equally hot starts by Harang, Alex Wood and Julio Teheran, but Ervin has been one of the best pitchers in the NL through April, even if he isn't the best in his own rotation at the moment.
The $14.1 million signing now seems like it might be a bargain for Atlanta.
Ryan Doumit was brought in this offseason to sure up the backup catcher spot. He also brought some flexibility with his ability to play other defensive positions, like outfield and first base. Unfortunately for the Braves, Doumit has been borderline unplayable early on this year.
In 29 at-bats, Doumit has tallied just five hits, all singles. He has only one walk to go along with the hits and has yet to score a run this season. Never known for his defense, Doumit is simply not hitting right now.
Being a backup, it usually takes more than four weeks to gather enough plate appearances to make a fair statement about a player's performance. That being said, grading Doumit just on what he's done thus far, the season has been a waste. He has also garnered the most at-bats of any Braves bench player, making the performance appear even worse.
Luckily for Atlanta, starting catcher Evan Gattis has looked very good at the plate.
The facts for Gavin Floyd are scary right now.
On the season, Floyd has not retired a single batter. He has zero strikeouts. He has yet to complete even a third of an inning, failing to accumulate even one out while on the mound this year.
As an aside, Floyd has been on the disabled list the entire year thus far and has yet to see any game action. But that's no excuse for his sorry performance!
Based off of 2014 alone, there is only one conclusion that can be drawn.