Braves: Three biggest disappointments through the first third of the season

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Yesterday, I covered the three biggest positives through the first third of the season. Now, it’s time for the Braves three biggest disappointments through the first third of the season, some of which are more worrisome than others.

A.J. Minter

Minter is coming off a dominant season in 2022 in which he was arguably the best left-handed reliever in baseball, posting a 2.06 ERA, 2.13 FIP, and 12.1 K/9. It looked like he was well on his way to developing into one of the premier relievers in the game, but his 2023 season is a testament to how volatile relief pitching can be.┬áMinter owns a 6.93 ERA, and what makes that worse is he’s been one of the most utilized relievers in the league, leading to a -0.8 bWAR.

It’s been a struggle, but there’s some hope he will experience some positive regression. His FIP of 3.08 suggests he’s been extremely unlucky, and from what I’ve seen, hitters have just made some hard contact on some good pitches, leading to a 1.1 HR/9. Minter is still limiting his walks and striking batters out at a high clip. As long as he does that, his ERA should come down significantly.

Michael Harris II

Harris is a guy I pegged as an MVP dark horse prior to the season, so to say he’s been a disappointment is an understatement. The reigning NL Rookie of the Year is hitting just .179 on the season with a couple of homers — good for an unsightly .534 OPS. But like with Minter, there’s some reason for optimism.

Despite Harris’ struggles at the plate, he remains elite defensively, so as long as he can figure it out in some capacity offensively, he’ll provide the Braves with some decent value. It also must be considered that he’s dealt with two minor injuries, one that forced him to the IL for a few weeks and another that caused him to wear a knee brace for a significant period. He’s finally healthy, so it’s fair to expect him to get in a groove eventually.

Harris is too talented not to figure it out, and it’s not all that surprising that he’s experiencing a bit of a sophomore slump. Remember, the guy debuted as a 21-year-old with less than 30 games of AA experience under his belt. This is nothing more than a bump in the road. Let’s just hope Harris figures it out sooner rather than later.

Eddie Rosario

Rosario will go down as a Braves legend forever for his performance during the Braves 2021 World Series run. Without him, this city likely would not have a championship in one of the four major sports since 1995. Rosario parlayed that success into a two-year, $18 million contract, and nothing has been the same since.

Last year, he was one of the least productive players in baseball, but a mid-season eye surgery served as a valid excuse for why he was underperforming. Unfortunately, things haven’t gotten much better in 2023. Rosario is hitting just .238 with five homers and has accrued -0.4 bWAR.┬áTo make matters worse, he’s turned into a reverse splits guy out of nowhere.

Rosario is typically only in the lineup against right-handed pitchers, who he is hitting .214 with a .607 OPS against. Meanwhile, he’s crushed lefties to the tune of a .400 average and 1.150 OPS over 20 at-bats. Things will even out, but unless he dramatically improves against right-handed pitching, the Braves will likely be looking for a corner outfielder to take his spot at the trade deadline.

Photographer: Rich von Biberstein/Icon Sportswire

 

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