clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

2022 Atlanta Braves Season in Review: Travis Demeritte

Called up to provide outfield depth, Demeritte had a surprisingly awesome first few weeks and then crashed down to earth after the league caught up with him.

MLB: MAY 13 Padres at Braves Photo by Rich von Biberstein/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

One of the joys of baseball: pretty much anyone can have a good few weeks. Travis Demeritte was living the dream early in the 2022 season while much of the rest of the team scuffled, but when he crashed back down to earth, he crashed hard.

How Acquired

Originally a compensation-round pick by the Rangers out of a Georgia high school (30th overall out of Winder-Barrow) in the 2013 MLB Draft, the Braves scooped up Demeritte by trading pitchers Dario Alvarez and Lucas Harrell for him in July 2016. Three years later, he was sent to Detroit along with Joey Wentz in the Shane Greene deal. After two struggle-bug partial seasons with the Tigers, Demeritte went through a bunch of transactions (DFA, waiver claim, outright resulting in free agency, minor league deal) and, in the end, happened to be on the 40-man roster ahead of the 2022 season.

The Braves promoted Demeritte to Atlanta on April 20, when Austin Riley hit the paternity leave list.

What were the expectations?

Demeritte had amassed -0.7 fWAR in his first 219 major league PAs, with essentially nothing to write home about: bad contact, no power, bad defense, the works. He consistently hit well in the minors, including a 155 wRC+ in 52 PAs for Gwinnett before being promoted, but was not expected to do anything to really help the club at the major league level...

2022 Results

...except he did. Through the first eight games of his Atlanta career, he was blazing. He homered in his third game, and then collected an inside-the-park homer three games later, the first in Globe Life Field’s history.

In his first 27 PAs, Demeritte had a 218 wRC+, and while he was definitely outhitting his xwOBA by a ton, the xwOBA itself was still decent (.340). He hit his first rough patch as the Braves headed to Queens to play the Mets, and found himself benched for a couple of games (potentially due to an off-the-field issue). But, he had another great three-game stretch in mid-May. Over his first 67 Braves PAs, Demeritte compiled a 133 wRC+ and only a modest xwOBA overperformance.

And then things came crashing down. Between May 15 and May 25, Demeritte made eight starts and got 32 PAs. In those 32 PAs, he collected zero hits and zero walks. He struck out 14 times, that is, twice in each game save one. This wasn’t some kind of wOBA-xwOBA correction, either, as he had an .075 xwOBA and .133 xwOBACON in that span. He was cooked.

He finally broke his span of 34 consecutive PAs without safely reaching base on May 27, with an RBI single off Trevor Rogers. But, when due for his next PA, he was replaced by Ronald Acuña Jr., who hit a game-tying pinch-hit double in his stead. The next day, Michael Harris II was promoted to the majors, taking Demeritte’s roster spot. Demeritte would not return to the majors again in 2022, leaving his line with a matching .265 wOBA and xwOBA, a 65 wRC+, and -0.5 fWAR. His defense was unplayably horrid in a small sample, which was consistent with his earlier work in the outfield. Out of around 200 players to man the outfield for more than a few pitches in 2022, only five covered less ground, on average, than Demeritte.

What went right? What went wrong?

Those first few weeks, though, were mostly glorious. Why were they glorious? Well, it could be because pitchers didn’t take him seriously, just laid it in there for him, and ended up paying the price. Through those first 67 PAs, Demeritte had a .386 xwOBA against four-seamers and sinkers and a .316 mark against everything else. The fastballs he crushed were almost served up on a tee for him:

And, honestly, so were the non-fastballs:

As soon as pitchers realized they actually had to do something other than throw it down the middle, though, he wilted. Here’s fastballs after May 14 (.083 xwOBA):

And here’s everything else (.113 xwOBA):

In the end, as a result of that gigantic rough patch, most of 2022 really went wrong, rather than right, for Demeritte. He put up -0.5 fWAR for the second time in his career, and continued to show awful contact rates and horrendous defense.

There are things to work with in his profile, for sure, as he has decent raw power and is fairly patient. However, his contact rates are horrendous, and he spent too much of 2022 hitting grounders even when he did make contact. As for the defense, well... he had a 75th percentile sprint speed in 2022, and his arm is fine, so he shouldn’t be as inept defensively as he’s shown. Not sure what’s going on there, but it doesn’t bode too well for him.

That said, he still had his moments. On May 13, he had a perfect day: 3-for-3 with two walks in an 11-6 loss to the Padres. He walked to start the second, moved to second on a wild pitch, and was thrown out at home to end the inning. He singled in the third and the fifth, walked in the sixth, and singled again in the seventh. On May 11, he hit a two-run homer off Nate Eovaldi; the homer brought the Braves within a run, they’d tie it later in the inning, and then walked off on Orlando Arcia’s homer.

And he also had... whatever the opposite of a moment is. A moment. May 25, the last game of his .000/.000/.000 stretch, was particularly rough. In the second, with men on second and third and one out in a tie game, he grounded out to third without scoring the runner.

In the fourth, he erased a leadoff walk with a double play ball. He struck out to lead off the sixth, and with two in scoring position in the seventh, he struck out again to end the inning. (Fortunately, the Braves beat the Phillies 8-4 despite Demeritte’s un-heroics.)

2023 Outlook

After going back down to Gwinnett, Demeritte really cratered. He hit for just a 31 wRC+ over 106 PAs. On August 7, he had a bad collision in the outfield with Braden Shewmake. He was designated for assignment and outrighted (he appeared to accept the assignment) to Gwinnett in mid-August, and spent the last six weeks or so of the season on the minor league Injured List, before electing minor league free agency in October. All-in-all, he’ll probably latch on in some system somewhere, perhaps even with an invitation to Spring Training, but has a lot of work to do if he wants to look like a viable major league option in what will be his age-28 season next year.

Sign up for the newsletter Sign up for the Battery Power Daily Roundup newsletter!

A daily roundup of Atlanta Braves news from Battery Power