clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

The Postseason is quickly becoming the “Travis d’Arnaud Show”

The Braves catcher has estabilshed himself as one of the best postseason performers in baseball.

MLB: NLDS-Philadelphia Phillies at Atlanta Braves Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

When the trade for Sean Murphy proved to be the most significant move of this past offseason for the Braves, it likely was a surprise move to many. Atlanta was coming off a 2022 season in which it featured arguably the best catching duo in baseball with Travis d’Arnaud and William Contreras. However, the Braves highly valued the defense and offensive upside of Murphy, which was further confirmed with a six-year extension shortly after he was acquired

The end result of the trade and extension was Murphy and d’Arnaud being the new one-two punch for the Braves behind the plate, as Contreras was a part of the Murphy deal and went to Milwaukee. As for d’Arnaud, it seemed plausible that the Braves could potentially use him as a trade chip to strengthen other areas of the roster as the 2023 season approached. However, this proved to be mere speculation, as the Braves remained steadfast on their commitment to keeping the veteran catcher. Even with the incredible first half of the season Murphy produced, the Braves showed the commitment to d’Arnaud would last beyond this season as they signed him to an extension in July that could keep him in Atlanta through the 2025 season.

There were multiple valid reasons as to why the Braves prioritized keeping d’Arnaud for the long-term even with the addition and performance of Murphy. For one, d’Arnaud is a tremendous veteran clubhouse presence for a still relatively young roster. Another is that Atlanta summers make having two reliable catchers a must-have for the Braves so each can stay fresh through the long grind of the season. Furthermore, d’Arnaud is a nice bench bat and possible DH option in certain matchups when he is not catching.

However, last night was a reminder of perhaps the biggest reason why the Braves have remained invested in d’Arnaud:

He has become a highly productive postseason performer. And for a Braves team that annually wants their success to be determined by if they were World Series Champions, having as many reliable postseason performers as possible is a high priority.

It should first be noted that d’Arnaud simply being to the postseason as much as he has is noteworthy. He is one of only 10 catchers in MLB history to have played in 50+ postseason games. Furthermore, he is one of only two catchers to have played 50+ career postseason games while also appearing in a postseason with three or more different franchises (Russell Martin did it with four.) Wherever d’Arnaud has played, winning has occurred, which is a compliment to his abilities has a teammate and player.

However, d’Arnaud has not merely been along for the ride. Over time, he has become one of the most productive offensive catchers in MLB postseason history:

He ranks among the top 10 catchers in MLB history in many postseason offensive categories, including runs, hits, home runs and total bases. Sure, one reason for his impressive counting stats is the result of how many times he has appeared in the postseason. However, during his time in Atlanta, d’Arnaud’s postseason success is more due to quality than quantity.

Since the start of the Braves recent run of consecutive postseason appearances in 2018, d’Arnaud has been one of the best Braves in the playoffs, despite not joining the team until 2020. Only four Braves over that time frame have an .800 OPS or better in the postseason (min. 50 PAs): Eddie Rosario, Freddie Freeman, Travis d’Arnaud, and Ronald Acuna Jr. Among current Braves, d’Arnaud has the most postseason home runs (7) and RBIs (20) over this time frame.

In fact, the performance of d’Arnaud has placed him among the best postseason hitters in the history of the Braves franchise. Only five Braves hitters have at least 5 home runs and 15 RBIS along with an .850 or better OPS during their careers in the postseason: Fred McGriff, Freddie Freeman, Chipper Jones, Hank Aaron and Travis d’Arnaud. Obviously, d’Arnaud is not on the level of these other players in terms of career performance. But the fact that he is on this list is one of the most valid examples of how important he has been for the Braves in recent postseasons.

Furthermore, d’Arnaud’s excellent postseason play in recent years stands out beyond the Braves. Since 2020, d’Arnaud has the most postseason home runs and hits among MLB catchers. He is second in RBIs, and his .855 OPS across 132 plate appearances is the best among MLB catchers with 50+ plate appearances. For reference, JT Realmuto of the Phillies has a .757 OPS over 89 plate appearances. Will Smith of the Dodgers has a .691 OPS over 152 plate appearances. A case can be made d’Arnaud has been the best offensive catcher in the postseason this decade.

Finally, d’Arnaud has been productive at each level of the postseason. He has hit more Division Series home runs than any catcher in MLB History. He and Jorge Posada are the only catchers in MLB history to have hit multiple home runs at the Division Series, Championship Series, and World Series levels of the postseason. He also is the only catcher to hit multiple home runs in a single World Series for the eventual champion since 1986.

However you choose to view d’Arnaud’s postseason production as a Brave, it is hard to deny he has clearly been a critical component to Atlanta’s postseason success. And as last night showed, he is more than capable of continuing that trend into the future. The hope is that he will produces more memories during multiple championship pursuits for the Braves into the future.

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

A daily roundup of Atlanta Braves news from Battery Power