Braves: It’s time to give Tyler Flowers some credit

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Coming from me, this is a lot, but I’m going to swallow my pride.

I’ve been one of Tyler Flowers’ biggest critics since he came to Atlanta in 2016. In his first two seasons, he hit well enough to start, but 2018 and 2019 were years he would like to forget at the plate, and his defense has always been Dr. Jekyll and Mr Hyde.

Even in 2016, which was his best season with the stick, Flowers only threw out three would be base stealers at a god awful 5% clip, and he’s always had issues with “wild pitches”, which a decent portion of the time was him whiffing completely. He led the majors in passed balls in 2019 while carrying an atrocious 19% caught stealing rate. However, according to FanGraphs he’s one of the best pitch framers in the game, and he’s handled a young staff fairly well. I was pretty annoyed when the Braves signed him to another one year contract, but Flowers has been a different beast so far in 2020, forcing me to put my foot in my mouth.

I’ve already discussed how bad third base has been this season, leading to an offense in need of a spark from somewhere else. Most teams forfeit offensively when it comes to catchers, but it’s been one of the most productive spots for the Braves. d’Arnaud has been a critical reason for that, but Flowers has actually been better.

It’s a small sample size of just seven games, but Flowers is sporting a 1.100 OPS, thanks to a ridiculous .500 on-base percentage and .600 slugging percentage. The only concerning aspect of his offense thus far is that he’s struck out 10 times in 26 at-bats, something just about everyone on this team is doing right now, and his BABIP (batting average on balls in play) is .667, which means he’s due for some substantial regression.

Flowers has been the butt of almost every joke on Twitter for nearly three years now, and some of it is warranted, but it’s time to give some credit where it is due. Even If he goes back to hitting somewhere around .281 like he did in 2017, he’s provided some serious value as a stopgap for Contreras & Langeliers. Flowers in my good graces…. for now.

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