Braves Country was wondering all offseason what Alex Anthopoulos would do at shortstop and left field. Many, including myself, believed Atlanta wouldn’t go into the season with Vaughn Grissom at shortstop. We also figured the club would add a proven commodity to left field. Neither happened, and it’s caused many to worry, which is warranted. However, there is another potential hole that not many people are talking about: designated hitter.
Shortstop could be a blackhole if the plan doesn’t work out, which would be detrimental to the club’s overall goals. However, I firmly believe Vaughn Grissom and Orlando Arcia will be able to hold the position down. Ron Washington is adamant the youngster will be fine; that’s good enough for me. As far as left field, I am of the opinion that Eddie Rosario will bounce back tremendously. His 2022 campaign was an aberration. Against righties, he’ll be starting every day. However, trading away William Contreras left a gaping hole at the DH.
Marcell Ozuna could step up, but who knows how the Braves will use him in 2023. Hell, if he has a terrible Spring Training, he could be outright released. In that same breath, he could grab a hold of the DH role. He’s long been one of the better hitters in baseball, and the power is still there. It’s been a while since we saw that version of Marcell Ozuna, though.
The recently acquired Sean Murphy might be seen as an option to DH, but he’s not a very good one. I actually don’t expect him to DH very often at all. Murphy is an elite defensive catcher and an above average hitter for the position. Still, compared to every other position, he’s not a great offensive player. Moreover, he struggled when the Athletics used him as a designated hitter last year.
As Catcher: 116 games, .269/.348/.458, .805 OPS, 16 home runs
As DH: 30 games, .179/.271/.313, .584 OPS, 2 home runs
Travis d’Arnaud is probably the best option. The veteran catcher absolutely mashes lefties. Last season, he posted a .346 average and .946 OPS. against southpaws. When a left-handed pitcher is on the mound, d’Arnaud will be the DH unless Ozuna bounces back considerably and becomes the guy he was back in 2020.
All in all, it doesn’t look great for the Braves at the DH. However, the lineup is so talented that it shouldn’t hamstring the team too much.
Rich von Biberstein/Icon Sportswire
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