He looks like Dansby Swanson, he’s clutch like Kirk Gibson, and he plays everywhere like plaid. Charlie Culberson is one of the most versatile and well-liked Braves player that I can remember. How well liked? David Ross put up 10.3 WAR in 227 games as a Braves, and he was runner-up in this poll for the third favorite Atlanta Braves bench player of all time. Why? Well for one, when he hits a home run, it’s when it really counts.
Oh and this.
Culberson was signed to a minor league contract with an invite to Spring Training, later Summer Camp. He was able to make the team to serve as a bench player.
What went well in 2020?
In the second game of the September 4th doubleheader versus the Nationals, Brian Snitker shunned the other bullpen options and had Patrick Weigel make his debut. He had allowed a one-run lead to triple, and had the bases loaded with Trea Turner at the plate. He was already 36 pitches into his outing, and instead of grabbing Tyler Matzek, he went for Charlie Culberson? Well, he had been throwing some batting practice.
OK really nice pitch, a cutter I guess.
Well done, Charlie! Let’s go ahead and add righty killer to his list of talents. Trea Turner was fourth in the National League in batting average, but he could only meekly fly out to right field versus Charlie.
Outside of this stellar performance, he hit this double off the wall.
What went wrong in 2020?
As the 14th position player with a National League designated hitter, Charlie was seldom used. He made ten appearances and got 7 plate appearances. His double was the singular highlight of his hitting season. Charlie was essentially a garbage time player. Per Ivan:
He appeared in 13 games across the postseason and regular season. In only three of them did have a WPA that didn’t round to zero (using two digits). And one of those three was him pitching.
Outlook for 2021
Charlie Culberson is now a free agent. I wouldn’t say a reunion is impossible, but if there is no 28-man roster and no position player pitching then I’m not sure how he makes the team. Of course, no one really knows what the 2021 season roster rule will look like. I would not hate it if he were offered a position in the organization. Though it is unclear that he is ready to hang it up. He would make a decent last guy on the bench for any decent team.