Flaherty vs Camargo – A Scrimmage for Third

Flaherty vs Camargo – A Scrimmage for Third

Winning is addicting and lately, the Braves have been doing a lot of it. Their bats are hot, bases are loaded and pitching is on point. With so much success and excitement surrounding how the Braves have been playing lately, there is a dilemma on the horizon. When Ryan Flaherty came on the scene right before the season started, most people didn’t know all that much about him and the type of performance he would bring to the field. The only thing that was emphasized was that he was Nick Markakis’ brother-in-law. On opening day, there wasn’t much that was expected of Flaherty during his time at third base, except to fill in until Johan Camargo could make his way back from the DL. Flaherty surprised us all and has really given Camargo a run for his money over the last few games. He has made a statement about how well he can play with this team. He knows how to get on base and over the course of his first two series with the Braves he got on base a lot.

When spring training began Braves fandom thought that Camargo would be awarded the third base bag. He did ok in spring training, but he didn’t have as much playing time this spring because of his back injury halfway through March.

With talks of Camargo coming off the DL in the next couple of days, I have a few simple thoughts on what is to come at third base. Flaherty has been great at the plate and he hasn’t been that bad defensively either. If we are strictly speaking about how well they have done at the plate, here is how they match up based on their first 5 games as a Brave and how well they did overall in their 2017 seasons:

Ryan Flaherty and Nick Markakis – Source: Flickr

In Ryan Flaherty’s first 5 games with the Braves, he had a .545 on-base percentage in 19 at-bats. In those 19 at bats he only stuck out 5 times and was walked twice. Flaherty’s bat has definitely been an unexpected bonus for the Braves while Camargo has been on the DL. His bat may have been bad in the past, but something has awakened in Flaherty.

For the 2017 season, Flaherty only played 23 games, with 38 at-bats with a .302 on-base percentage, his best season with Baltimore. One thing is for sure is that Flaherty is great defensively and can play nearly every infield position. He’s an all-around good player and based on what we have seen this season thus far, he’s been pretty reliable.

When Johan Camargo played in his first 5 games as a Braves he had a .250 on-base percentage in 4 at-bats. Camargo stuck out 3 times in 4 of those at-bats. Also, it’s important to note that he did not continuously play two full series like Flaherty has, but he was used across random games in three different series to start the season.

In 2017, Camargo played in 82 total games with 241 at-bats with a .331 on-base percentage. Camargo did play more games last year, but Flaherty has had more experience in the majors overall. During Camargo’s time in spring training this year, he had a string of defensive errors before he got hurt. This is not an encouraging notion and with his injury sidelining him from starting on opening day he is sure to be a little rusty when he gets back.

It is interesting to see how each made an impression on the club with their first appearances with the team. The reason I bring the above stats to your attention is to ask this question: should the Braves keep Ryan Flaherty at third as an everyday starter or should they bench him as soon as Johan Camargo is off the DL?

What it comes down to it, as of now, Flaherty is a better fit for third because he has three things: experience, a reliable bat and great defense –  he has proven that. Camargo has had less experience. Even though he did ok last year and in what little time he played in Spring Training, his injury has put a stop sign on his ability to prove that he deserves third base as his own. What Camargo has going for him is that he knows the team and had time with the Braves to learn the ins and outs of what the managers and coaches want.

I like what I am seeing from Ryan Flaherty and I wouldn’t mind if he stuck around for a little while longer even after Camargo comes off the DL. Now, some of you may ask, why can’t they alternate playing third? And while that might be a good idea for some positions, you need someone consistent defensively on the hot corner, plus it’s not fair to split the role if one is doing better than the other; if someone is tremendously helping a team on both defense and offense, why not keep the guy in? why would you want to limit someone when they could be useful for the team?

My hope is that when it comes time to decide who to keep at third the Braves choose the guy that benefits the team the most and right now that guy looks like Ryan Flaherty. We will have to see how Camargo performs when he gets back, but if he goes 3 or 4 games with poor numbers and balls drive past him at third, put Flaherty back in. Then Camargo should be moved to being the back-up third basemen.

The Braves are doing well and keeping Flaherty at third, for the time being, looks like the way to go in order to continue the momentum they have gained. Whatever they are doing, pray they keep doing it, cause I like this ride the Braves are taking us all on.










Brittni….for the time being, I’d rather see Flaherty kept at 3rd (he’s ideal for the #8 spot of the order (he fouls off lots of pitches, can grind out a walk..which is important because it helps to clear the pitcher’s spot of the batting order, giving Inciarte a chance to lead off the next inning). Carmago has value as a super-sub who can play a lot of positions. He can be the one who can give Swanson, Albies and Flaherty regular days off (to keep those guys fresh, they should be getting one day off a week, especially when summer comes). Of course Carmago being a switch hitter, he can be the 1st bat off the bench (unless a situation comes up where you need someone with some power coming up….when either Flowers or Suzuki can be used as a pinch hitter…that is, after Flowers comes back from his oblique injury).

Right now..other than Lane Adams, our bench is a little thin. However (which brings up my next point), if Acuna is indeed brought up the middle of April (it only makes sense, given that we’d be using one of Acuna’s pre-arbitration years in 2018, to start Acuna…as opposed to having him be our 4th outfielder), then Preston Tucker would potentially be a valuable pinch hitter to have coming off the bench (if Acuna comes up mid-April, I dont see Snitker benching Markakis, especially if Markakis is still producing decently. I’m not saying that Tucker ‘should’ be benched…I’m saying that I dont see Snitker benching Markakis).

Imagine a bench of Lane Adams, Preston Tucker, Johan Carmago, whichever one of Flowers/Suzuki that doesnt start…and Carlos Perez (we’d have to keep a 3rd catcher..in order to utilize the pinch hitting bat of either Flowers/Suzuki). That’s a really deep 5 man bench! Speed/outfield defense in Adams….power in Tucker and Flowers/Suzuki….switch hitting bat in/infield defense in Carmago! Of course..that would mean that Peter Burjouis and Charlie Culberson would be either sent to Triple A or released at some point.

Injuries/unexpected ineffectiveness happens all the time…so AA has some time to decide how he wants to go about things.

5-2 to start the year is nice….however unless our starting pitching decides to pick up the pace when it comes to being able to go AT LEAST 6 innings a start (while only giving up 2-4 runs a start…with the way our offense is hitting, as well as the way the bullpen is pitching….we DO NOT need our starting pitching to be ‘shut down’)…like how McCarthy went 6 yesterday and gave up 3 runs……we’re going to blow through our bullpen in May (we’ve been lucky with the early season off days….which has given our bullpen some days off after a number of them have been used multiple days in a row.

I’m not sure what to expect from Sanchez today. If The Rockies get to Sanchez early today…this could be one of those days where Snitker only uses BULLPEN BUMS (saving Vizcaino, Minter, Freeman and Winkler for Sunday..which should be a winnable game for us). I’d LOVE to be wrong about today…..especially if our bats continue to put up crooked numbers on the scoreboard!

The problem with your scenario is that each of the measurements are extremely small samples. Any one can get hot and bat .400 for a while, but can they keep it up all year? Not likely. Flaherty has the better glove, yet we aren’t sure what Camargo can do with the bat for a full year. They both have questions to answer and neither are long term options. If it were me, I’d leave Camargo in the minors until he was up to speed and then make a determination as to playing time by what your scouting instincts tell you. If we accidentally become a contender, at the trade deadline get a proven third baseman on an expiring contract.

Bob, you are right, I totally get that 5 games is a very small sample size and based on what we have seen thus far, the sample size for 2018 is small (there have only been 7 games), which is why I also added in how they did last year as a comparison. Because right now, the only thing we have to go off of is last year, spring training and 7 games 🙂

Bob Long…..the next week will give more info regarding Flaherty. I made a case for keeping him at 3rd over Carmago (having Carmago be the ‘super sub’…which I feel that he would be more suited for Long Term).

I agree, we need a long term solution at 3rd (that’s why I’ve pushed for The Braves go to out and offer Manny Machado a $35 mil a year Long Term offer during The 2018 Free Agent Offseason). Machado would be PERFECT (we have a hole at 3rd..we need right handed power to hit right behind Freddie). If Machado insists on being a short stop…then we simply move Swanson over to 3rd! If The Braves have to push the offer to $40 mil a year….then so be it!

We have a lot of payroll flexibility the next few years! Our influx of cheap, young, high ceiling starting pitching….would do so much better…if they didnt have to worry about the defense making errors OR the offense scoring! We have some SERIOUS ARMS in our System…and they will be HELLA CHEAP for the next 3-6 years (starting in 2019). With Freddie ($21 mil a year until after The 2021 Season) and Inciarte (making $5 mil in 2019, $7 mil in 2022, $8 mil in 2021 and a team option $9 mil in 2022) BOTH on bargain contracts….and with Acuna and Albies BOTH making minimum wage the next three seasons…it is ESSENTIAL that Braves Management takes advantage of the payroll flexibility..and get a couple of bats like Machado and Harper…to put some SERIOUS FEAR in our opponents!

Meanwhile, AA will probably let this season ride out WITHOUT using precious prospect capital to chase a Wild Card spot! If we get in in 2018…great. if not, then 2019 will be the year that we GEAR UP TOWARDS being a serious World Series Contender! All the ducks will be lined up for us to ‘make our move’!

By the way..guess how BOTH Todd Frazier AND Mike Moustakis (many on here AND on other sites were BEGGING for Braves Management to spend GOOD MONEY on signing these two) have started The 2018 Season?

Frazier….22 at-bats….4 hits…2 doubles…0 homers..4 RBIs….(.182 average)….(.569 OPS). Making $12 mil in 2018,

Moustakis….19 at bats…4 hits…1 double…1 triple…0 homers…2 RBIs…(.211 batting average)….(.654 OPS). Making $6.5 mil with plate appearance incentives.

Meanwhile, here are Ryan Flaherty’s stats….25 at-bats….10 hits…4 doubles..0 homers..2 RBIs…(.400 batting average)….(1.076 OPS). Making $550k in 2018.

Paul- that’s an incredibly small sample size to base an argument on. There was a stretch last year when Matt Adams was hitting better than Mike Trout, too. I’d always prefer to have the guy on the field that has the proven track record. Both Moose and Frazier are better 3B than Flaherty. AA wanted to shop the Dollar Store, though. Fair enough. If he doesn’t come away with a top 5 FA after this season though, he’s going to look mighty foolish for passing on some solid 3B solutions in a down market.

Oy. OK, first, Brittni, you need to look a little deeper. Last season was not Flaherty’s best – 69 OPS+. If he has really gained or re-gained his hitting capability (he seemed to have found something this Spring with the Phillies), then he can be an 80-90 OPS+ guy with a little LH pop. His true calling is as a Super UTIL guy. Unfortunately, most Braves fans think Camargo is better than that but, as you pointed out, he has not done much this Spring on O or D. He was 0-4 last night at Florida with a K. As many evaluators have said, his likely ceiling is a Super UTIL guy. What they are is the same player with Camargo being younger but less experienced. With that being said, Camargo’s Spring and injury status scream for a longer rehab and prep time before being recalled plus Camargo has options and Flaherty and Culberson do not – I’m predicting another two-four weeks in the minors. He should play multiple games, maybe at multiple levels, and show some results before he’s recalled. The Braves should ride the hot hand in Flaherty, if for no other reason than to see how long he can keep it up. The real question will come when Camargo is actually ready and AA has to decide which of THREE he’s going to keep including his own ex-Dodger guy who was a playoff hero. I think both Flaherty and Camargo are better than Culberson but we don’t know how AA will feel about that. One can temper expectations for Camargo by looking no farther than that Danny Santana guy who was declared a rising star after his first year and has never been able to repeat that success.

I am also an O’s fan and watched how Flaherty filled in for JJ Hardy over the last few years and was not impressed. But he never did hit like he has this Spring or early this year (although he occasionally came up with big game winning HRs ala Culberson….. LOL). The Braves are compelled to determine if this capability is new or if he’s just hot. I think we enjoy it while it lasts.

Paul is just plain wrong about Frazier and Moustakas even if they are starting slowly. Both have much better track records than any of Flaherty, Camargo, or Culberson.

By the way, if Culberson is waived, then McCarthy is the highest cost player in the league. He may not be the highest paid but the Braves are paying $42M for his services this year. I can’t wait for the end of next year to see who earned more for their $42M – McCarthy or Kemp (note: Kemp is starting slowly this year). As good as it sounded, the value of that trade is still an open question. I guess one thing that proves is that the Braves can only afford to have one $40M+ player on the roster.

Roger….Frazier IS NOT worth $12 mil a year (on a 2 year contract). We’d have to give up a 4th round pick IF we’d signed Moustakis (we’ve already lost our 3rd due to The Coppy Sanctions).

The fact that we’re basically paying McCarthy $42.6 mil in 2018 ($5 mil of Gonzalez’s $21 mil salary was paid by The Dodgers, $16 mil for Kazmir, about $600k for Culberson..finally $10 mil for McCarthy)….should let you know that AA should have NO PROBLEM with going after the likes of Machado and/or Harper…and pay them approximately $35-$40 mil a year in a long term contract…ESPECIALLY given THE PLETHORA of pre-arbitration eligible players we’ll have on our roster the next 3-6 years!

Kemp looks like AN OLD MAN playing for The Dodgers. He can still hit…however playing in the outfield is going to affect his ability to stay sharp/healthy as a hitter! He’s a DH…however no AL team is going to give The Dodgers what ‘they think’ he’s worth (nor will they trade for him UNLESS The Dodgers are willing to eat MOST of his remaining contract).

Snitker should ride Flaherty’s hot hand for as long as he plays decent (he’s in the 8 hole….as long as he can do a decent job of clearing the pitcher’s spot AND play decent defense at 3rd…I’m happy with him playing 3rd…given his salary).

There’s the old adage in football- when you have two quarterbacks, you really don’t have one.

The Braves have a similar problem at 3B; with multiple guys capable of playing the position to an extent, but none with the all around game for it. Yes, Flaherty’s hot right now… and as Roger said, I’d try to ride that streak while Camargo spends some extended time in the minors rehabbing. Flaherty’s going to come back down to Earth though, because he’s been around long enough that he kinda is what he is at this point.

Camargo’s really a super utility type too, though. And the jury’s still out on how good he’s going to be. I know there’s a lot of Braves fans super high on him- but I just don’t see it. Don’t get me wrong, I’d put him on the bench over Culberson or Santana. Would I regularly start him though, even as a Swiss Army Knife type? I lean no there.

King….Obviously, AA is going to have to address 3rd base (long term) after The 2018 Season ends (you know what my take on that is).

However, short term, I’m more than ok with riding Flaherty’s ‘hot hand’ (whether it is for another game/another week/another month/The ASB/the end of the season). Having Carmago around would be beneficial for the whole infield…because it would give Flaherty, Swanson and Albies regular days off (preventing them from getting overused..which makes them susceptible to prolonged slumps).

Given the production of Tucker..and the likelihood of Acuna’s promotion (especially if Markakis is either benched or traded)…Flaherty can have value on this team EVEN if he reverts back to being a .250 hitter with little power. I feel that the #8 hitter is ROUTINELY overlooked in lineups….because most fans fail to realize that there is HELLA VALUE in having a #8 hitter who can do ‘whatever it takes’ (whether it is drawing a walk/getting a dink hit/etc.) to get on base (clearing out the pitcher’s spot of the order BEFORE the next inning. A team being about to open the following inning with their leadoff hitter (as opposed to having him bat with one out) can give your team a BETTER CHANCE to score runs..on a long term basis!

As long as other players are contributing throughout the lineup….AND as long as Flaherty is playing good defense at 3rd (at least for 2018), I’m not going to jump off The “Flaherty” bandwagon, lol, should he come ‘way back down to Earth’!

They need to play Carmago there when he gets healthy—imo. I believe the braves need to see what he can do. Flaherty won’t keep
Hitting like this—if he does—seriously merry
Xmas Bedford falls—but he won’t. I hope they see what they have in Carmago since they passed on Frazier etc.

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