If the Players Union and the owners can come to an agreement, and there is no substantial spike in coronavirus cases, it looks like there will indeed be a 2020 baseball season. It will be shortened, and several other aspects will be changed — like expanded rosters an a Universal DH. Because of that, many players will benefit, especially bench options in the National League that will now be considered for designated hitter roles. Luckily for the Braves, they have plenty of in-house options.
In an ideal world, Austin Riley will be playing every day for the Braves, whether it is as a third baseman or a DH. Johan Camargo is the better glove at the hot corner, especially since he slimmed down over the summer, so if Riley shows his woes of the second half of last season are past him, he should slot in as the every day DH. However, if he continues to swing at pitches out the zone, he could find himself out of the conversation altogether and back in Gwinnett. I believe in Riley, and his ability is undeniable, but the Braves have several different directions they could go if the universal DH is implemented.
The decision to bring back Markakis on a one-year deal is looking like the right one now — no matter what your opinions are on the veteran outfielder. Having him around gives the Braves a steady option in case the likes of Johan Camargo, Austin Riley, and Adam Duvall — who have all been inconsistent — don’t prove to be everyday options. It also provides Brian Snitker with a left-handed bat to platoon with one of the others.
If Austin Riley beats out Johan Camargo for the job at third base, he will be in the conversation for the DH role. I wouldn’t expect him to take over full-time, but he’s a switch hitter that can DH some days and give Austin Riley a day off on others, allowing him plenty of more at-bats instead of being a bench player — a role that didn’t suit him well last year. However, when Camargo started to receive more plate appearances, he thrived. Unfortunately, a fractured shin cut his season short right when he was showing signs of the 3-WAR player he was in 2018.
The sleeper of this group is Adam Duvall. However, if he proves to be the player he was last year, he could fill the role more games than not. Duvall was a menace for Gwinnett, patiently waiting for his opportunity in Atlanta, and when he got it, he looked like the player that was an All-Star for the Reds in 2016, smashing ten homers in just 120 plate appearances. Duvall also recorded his best batting average ever (.267), even though it was a small sample size, and was one of Atlanta’s most reliable bats in the NLDS, going 3-11 with a homer and five RBIs. If one of Austin Riley or Johan Camargo needs to be sent to Gwinnett — an Adam Duvall and Nick Markakis platoon to fill the role is still promising, especially compared to most other NL teams.