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2012 Braves Player Review: Eric O'Flaherty

Recapping the 2012 season of Braves' left-handed reliever Eric O'Flaherty

Christopher Pasatieri

Coming into the 2012 campaign, Eric O'Flaherty was coming off the most dominant season of his career. Along with Craig Kimbrel and Jonny Venters, O'Flaherty formed the first part of a devastating back-inning trio. Pitching mostly in the 7th inning, O'Flaherty notched a 0.98 ERA with 67 strikeouts and 21 walks in 73.2 innings. As the season wore on, however, the trio of Kimbrel, Venters, and O'Flaherty begin to wear down, and Fredi Gonzalez vowed to monitor their innings more closely in 2012.

True to his word, Gonzalez limited O'Flaherty to 57.1 innings pitched this year. Though he was unable to replicate his mind-boggling 2011 numbers this year, O'Flaherty posted fantastic numbers, and often set up Craig Kimbrel given the struggles of Jonny Venters. In his 57.1 innings this year, EOF (as Braves' fans nicknamed him) put up a sparkling 1.73 ERA, and struck out 46 batters while walking 19. According to Baseball Reference, O'Flaherty was worth 1.4 Wins Above Replacement (WAR) this year, after being worth 3.2 last year. By any measure, it was a great year for O'Flaherty, as his ERA ranked 3rd in all of the National League among relievers with at least 50 innings - only Kimbrel and Aroldis Chapman were better.

All that said, O'Flaherty's future with the Braves is a bit uncertain. He made 2.49 million dollars with Atlanta last year, and is due to see a raise in arbitration for 2013, probably somewhere in the neighborhood of 3 million dollars. After 2013, O'Flaherty will become a free agent, which will mean a significant raise. Many writers around the Braves' organization have mulled the idea that the Braves should trade O'Flaherty, cashing in on a valuable trade chip in a notably volatile market. O'Flaherty is made all the more expendable by the sudden rise of Luis Avilan, who proved that he could consistently get out left-handed batters at a major league level. As of now, I would expect to see O'Flaherty back next year, but I doubt the Braves will sign him beyond next year, choosing instead to let him walk. However, don't be surprised to see the Braves spin O'Flaherty, especially if they can package him for an outfield bat.

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