If a “Mom’s Spaghetti” award existed for the 2022 Braves, there would be no better recipient than Chadwick Tromp. The 27-year-old minor league journeyman catcher from Aruba had one shot, one opportunity, given that appeared in, you guessed it — one game for the Braves. And while he didn’t drop any bombs, it was a phenomenal game for him, even though it ended up ending his season.
The Braves claimed Tromp off waivers from the Giants in September 2021. He didn’t make the team out of Spring Training, and was optioned down to Triple-A Gwinnett before the final round of cuts.
What were the expectations?
Prior to 2022, Tromp had all of 62 major league PAs, all with the Giants in 2020 and 2021. He hit terribly in those PAs (62 wRC+ with massive xwOBA overperformance), and was worth -0.1 fWAR for his efforts. He also didn’t have much of a minor league track record of hitting — his 150 wRC+ in 90 PAs in Triple-A in 2019 was the only time he had an above-average batting line for the level since a 2017 stint in High-A.
Basically, Tromp was there to provide catching depth, something that was fresh on the team’s mind given how many options the Braves had to churn through at catcher during their 2021 campaign. (Remember Kevan Smith? That Jonathan Lucroy and Jeff Mathis were Braves? Yeah, exactly.)
In the minors, Tromp had a Tromp-esque campaign: a 92 wRC+ in 266 PAs for the Stripers. In early August, as the Braves were suffering through that disastrous five-game set in New York, they were forced to add Tromp to the 40-man, as well as the active roster, due to Travis d’Arnaud getting banged up on a play at the plate. Even so, Tromp didn’t get into a game until six days after his call-up, and what a game it was...
What went right? What went wrong?
Tromp’s only game as a Brave so far came as the first game of a doubleheader in Miami. In his first PA wearing the Atlanta script across his chest, he roped a 103.5 mph double into the right-center gap off Jesus Luzardo, but was stranded.
The next inning, with the bases loaded and two out, and the Braves having scored a run on the prior play, Tromp once again came up against Luzardo, and connected for another double, this time hit much less hard, but finding grass down the left-field line nonetheless.
That made it 3-0 Braves, but Tromp wasn’t done. After a groundout in the sixth, he came up again in the eighth with a man on second, and pulled another ball down the line, extending the Braves’ lead from 4-2 to 5-2.
For the game, and for the season, Tromp’s batting line therefore features a 467 wRC+, a .503 xwOBA, and an .852 wOBA. Those efforts gave him 0.2 fWAR, canceling out his prior negative and putting him into slightly-positive territory for his career.
In his sole major league game, he led the Braves (pitching and hitting) in WPA. I don’t have an easy way to query “average WPA” for players, nor a way to query “what WPA did a guy produce in his only game ever for a team,” but I’m guessing Tromp would be towards the top, if not at the very top, of both lists.
Oh, but something did go wrong. If you watch the clip of his two-run double above, you’ll see Tromp grabs at his leg as he rounds second base. While this didn’t force him out of the game, Tromp didn’t make another appearance and was placed on the Injured List with a strained left quadricep a few days later. He eventually participated in a rehab assignment with Gwinnett, but re-aggravated the quad, and was shut down for the rest of the year before the calendar turned away from August.
Tromp will likely serve as catching depth once again in 2023. I, for one, eagerly await the day that our new Tromp overlord will return to the major league roster, even if he’s probably not projected to provide anything beyond replacement-level play.