The Atlantazona Bravebacks (Part I: Position Players) by Spencer Jones February 24, 2015 This post was inspired by a question posed by one Pale Hose, in the most recent iteration of the Fangraphs after Dark Chat. 9:08 Comment From Pale Hose Would you rather be the Braves/Diamondbacks combined roster or the Red Sox? They are roughly equal by depth chart WAR. Unfortunately, a baseball team cannot pull a Noah and bring two of each position out on any given night. Therefore, in the particular exercise we’ll be using Steamer projections and the depth charts maintained on this very site to explore the position player depth chart of a hypothetical Braves/Diamondbacks combined roster. Let’s call our mashup team the Atlantazona Bravebacks. Because the author of this article is a confirmed leech who is incapable of coming up with original ideas, I’ll be splitting this series into multiple posts. Note: Yasmany Tomas isn’t currently featured in the aforementioned Arizona Diamondbacks depth chart, so he’ll have to sit this one out. *No baseball players real or fake were hurt in the creation of this team* C: Christian Bethancourt 1.0 WAR As face-punch worthy as A.J. Pierzynski is, he’s probably one of the two best catching options because dear-god-the-Arizona-Diamondbacks-catching-situation-is-worse-than-Dusty-Baker’s-two hole-hitters. But it’s okay cause Dave Stewart says so. Christian Bethancourt is actually a catcher unlike Arizona’s apparent long-term option at the position, although there’s still a chance that Mr. O’Brien and his bat sneak onto the roster. We’ll just steal the Braves current depth chart here, with Bethancourt on top, being backed up by the always lovable Pierzynski, giving the Bravebacks an even 1.0 projected WAR out of the catching position. Christian Bethancourt 0.7 WAR in 448 PA A.J. Pierzynski 0.3 WAR in 192 PA 1B: Paul Goldschmidt 5.5 WAR Well, both of these teams have first basemen who are both A. relatively young and B. projected to post something resembling or greater than four wins above replacement. Since both teams are National League teams, and two wrongs make a right, we’ll give the Bravebacks a DH. It appears that Steamer believes that Paul Goldschmidt is a +7 1B and Freeman is something resembling a +2 or +3, so, we’ll move Freeman to DH, although he’ll occasionally get some time at first base to rest the typically durable Paul Goldschmidt. Paul Goldschmidt: 5.3 WAR in 665 PA Freddie Freeman: 0.2 WAR in 35 PA 2B: Aaron Hill 1.3 WAR Well, I’m sure the braves hope Jose Peraza gets here soon because when your projected starter has a WAR starting with a “-” sign you know it’s gonna be a long year. Fortunately, Aaron Hill is still capable of providing some value, even at his advanced age. Chris Owings features a very promising projection for a player of his age, and something resembling a 50/50 time split between the two should at least prevent second base from being a black hole for the Bravebacks. Aaron Hill: 0.6 WAR in 385 PA Chris Owings: 0.7 WAR in 315 PA 3B: Jacob Lamb 1.8 WAR Aaron Hill will split time with Chris Owings at second base, allowing him to log fairly significant time as something of a platoon partner for the left-handed hitting third base prospect, Jacob Lamb. Lamb, like Owings, receives a very encouraging projection for a player of his relatively young age. A Lamb/Hill platoon should be enough to hold the fort down for the Bravebacks. Chris Johnson was employed by both of these teams at one point, but it appears that the Bravebacks have no interest in employing this particular one-tool BABIP beast. Jacob Lamb 1.4 WAR in 455 PA Aaron Hill 0.4 WAR in 245 PA SS: Andrelton Simmons 4.2 WAR Can you say Platinum Glove? Andrelton Simmons wins the team’s shortstop job easily. Simmons is the premier defender in the sport at his position, and isn’t a total black hole offensively. He’s currently projected to see almost all of the team’s plate appearances here, with Chris Owings making a spot start every once in a while to spell Simmons. Although Simmons might not add the offense that a Freeman or Goldschmidt adds, he makes up for that with his defense, establishing himself as one of the premium players on the upstart Bravebacks. Andrelton Simmons 4.1 WAR in 644 PA Chris Owings 0.1 WAR in 56 PA LF: Mark Trumbo 1.2 WAR Mark Trumbo provides Right Handed Power ™ and not much else in left field. Fortunately, he won’t see quite a full slate of plate appearances here, as he’ll spend some time at DH when either Freeman or Goldschmidt needs a breather. David Peralta will slot in behind him, seeing some fairly significant time in left field, providing some much needed defense and athleticism that Trumbo can’t provide. Mark Trumbo 0.8 WAR in 487 PA David Peralta 0.4 WAR in 213 PA CF: A.J. Pollock 2.4 WAR Pollock is one of the better position players on this team, even making MLB Network’s Top 10 Right Now list for center fielders. If he can stay on the field and play a full season, his combination of athleticism and power could make him a very productive player. Pollock might have the most upside out of the 6 starting position players who haven’t already established a high performance base line, as he proved to be quite powerful last season. Given what we know about the Arizona Diamondbacks and Right Handed Power ™ he could be the long term solution in center field for them, and for our Bravebacks. A.J. Pollock 2.1 WAR in 550 PA David Peralta 0.3 WAR in 150 PA RF: Nick Markakis 1.0 WAR Wow that contract was confusing. Well, as long as he’s here he might as well play. Nick Markakis is Nick Markakis. Dependably mediocre. Consistently below average. Reliably meh. Fortunately he has a better group of players assisting him in the outfield with the Bravebacks than he will in real life this season. David Peralta backs him up in the limited time that he is expected to miss, although neck injuries can be tricky. Although to be perfectly honest this team wouldn’t lose anything if Peralta had to take over for an extended period of time. Nick Markakis 0.9 WAR in 616 PA David Peralta 0.1 WAR in 84 PA DH: Freddie Freeman 3.4 WAR Freddie Freeman is a better hugger, and defender than your typical DH, so his WAR takes a bit of a dip moving from 1B to DH. However, he still can provide significant value here, and create a potent left-right tandem in the middle of the Bravebacks batting order. Mark Trumbo sees some time here because any time he’s not spending in the outfield is time well spent. DH figures to be a real strength on this team, something many American League teams wish they could say. Freddie Freeman 3.1 WAR in 609 PA Mark Trumbo 0.3 WAR in 91 PA Wow, this roster looks stronger than I thought it would. Although this team is fairly imbalanced, featuring three stars in Simmons, Freeman and Goldschmidt, they’re enough to make up for below average production in the outfield and behind the plate. Chris Owings and David Peralta make for reasonably solid bench contributors, and A.J Pierzynski provides cuddly joy, while also providing what steamer thinks will be reasonable production out of a backup catcher. Now for our projected lineup: RF (L) Nick Markakis CF (R) A.J. Pollock 1B (R) Paul Goldschmidt DH (L) Freddie Freeman LF (R) Mark Trumbo 3B (L) Jacob Lamb 2B (R) Aaron Hill SS (R) Andrelton Simmons C (R) Christian Bethancourt Nick Markakis provides a solid OBP option at the top of the order, and AJ Pollock has an interesting set of abilities, making him a high-upside play in the number two slot. The two star first basemen form a potent 3-4 combo, and having Freeman in the four-hole splits up Goldschmidt and Mark Trumbo, who isn’t the same quality hitter as the first two but brings plenty of Right Handed Power ™ to the table as a supporting piece. Lamb and Hill can both be solid down-order offensive contributors, and Simmons and Bethancourt are defensive standouts, who certainly haven’t been given starting jobs based on their offensive abilities. If we add the above WAR totals, we get 21.8 WAR, tying the Giants and Indians for 14th place in Major League Baseball. Seeing that both of these teams should be fairly competitive in 2015, it looks like fans in Atlantazona have good reason to be enthused about the coming campaign. If only fans of the real Braves and Dbacks could say the same.