This continues my season grades for the Atlanta Braves, breaking them up into three groups — the good, the okay, and the ugly. If you missed the first part of this series, follow the link below:
The 2022 Atlanta Braves — The Okay
Ronald Acuña Jr.
For most players, Ronald Acuña’s 2022 campaign would be spectacular, but it was overwhelmingly apparent how much his knee injury was still in the back of his mind. Hopefully, he can put that in the rearview with a full offseason and come back looking like the MVP candidate he was in 2021.
Again, I’m also grading players based on their expectations. Olson was asked to fill the shoes of Freddie Freeman, which is almost impossible. He didn’t come close, but he still had a solid first season in Atlanta.
Jansen came to Atlanta as one of the most decorated closers of all time. Entering his late 30s, I think those days are behind him. He had some pretty bad moments with the Braves, but for the most part, he was still a well-above-average closer that ended up leading the league in saves.
Stephens was a pleasant surprise that Alex Anthopoulos found in the Mexican League. I wouldn’t be shocked at all if he was a critical piece to the bullpen next year as well.
Matzek’s year ended in the worst way possible, as he was forced to undergo Tommy John surgery right before the postseason. His season also began with a dead arm that kept him out for more than a month. However, he was an integral piece to Atlanta’s bullpen in between the two injuries. Hopefully, this isn’t the last time we see him in a Braves uniform.
Grissom was called up to the bigs out of necessity. In a perfect world, he would have stayed in the minors all season. However, he was spectacular for the first month or so, causing many to speculate how he would be used moving forward when the Braves got healthy. Unfortunately, he cooled off considerably to end the season and found himself in more of a utility role once Orlando Arcia returned. Still, it was still a very productive season for Grissom, who was never expected to contribute in 2022.
Grossman was acquired at the trade deadline and gave the Braves pretty much exactly what they expected out of him — a platoon option that delivered some timely hits down the stretch run.
I was close to putting Morton in the ugly category. He wasn’t the same guy in 2022 as he was in 2021, but his final four months proved enough to the Braves that he was worthy of an extension. Hopefully, with a fully healthy offseason, he can avoid a slow start.
Photo: John Adams/Icon Sportswire