Shortstop will arguably be the most watched position by Braves Country in 2023. Dansby Swanson had been a stalwart in Atlanta. He’s now in Chicago, and Alex Anthopoulos has decided to roll with a 22-year-old with 41 games under his belt.
The Braves have regularly turned to younger, inexperienced players. There are times it’s worked and times it hasn’t. Instead of paying Josh Donaldson, Atlanta rolled with a green Austin Riley, who turned into one the best offensive players in the sport and the highest-paid member in organization history. However, we all remember the botched experiment with Christian Pache.
Fortunately, the most experienced man on the planet in grooming infielders believes in Vaughn Grissom; Ron Washington is adamant it will work out. The concern is warranted, though. Grissom struggled largely in 2022 at second base. Now, he will be playing a more difficult position without the benefit of the shift.
Replacing Dansby Swanson is no small task, and nobody should expect Grissom to perform at that level immediately defensively. Learning the nuances of a premium position like shortstop takes time. Development won’t happen overnight, but Wash said he’s already seen growth and reminded fans to be patient.
“Growth. I see things that I didn’t see earlier,” Washington said on Grant McAuley’s podcast, via Fansided. “He really, really, really wants it, and he’s been putting in the time to deserve it. I think the fans have to just be patient.”
If Wash is confident in Vaughn Grissom, nobody should question the decision until we see live baseball. He even went further to suggest the kid has experienced immediate improvement, which doesn’t happen too often. Washington reminded everyone of the growing pains we experienced with Dansby Swanson during his earlier years in Atlanta.
“He’s got a skillset, that I feel, he can be a major-league shortstop. Now, will that happen overnight? It didn’t happen overnight with Dansby. It didn’t happen overnight with Marcus Semien. It didn’t happen overnight with Miguel Tejada…and all those names I just named are pretty good players,” Washington said. “But I like the growth and I like the attitude. I like the commitment to the work ethic. He will be a different looking guy.”
I’m cautiously optimistic about Vaughn Grissom. Hopefully, he can hold his own defensively because his bat is what’s really exciting. Nobody should be shocked if Grissom outperforms Swanson offensively in 2023. The new Cubs shortstop is a career 95 OPS+ hitter. Meanwhile, Grissom finished the year with a .291 average and five long balls, good for a .792 OPS.
It’s a small sample size, but he’s raked at every level. There’s no reason to believe he’ll experience severe regression. Chase’s stat predictions are on par with what I expect we’ll see from Vaughn Grissom.
- .283/.330/.399, .729 OPS, 13 home runs, 59 RBIs, 1.9 fWAR
Jeff Robinson/Icon Sportswire
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