Alex Anthopoulos opens up about the Braves’ shortstop situation

Alex Anthopoulos opens up about the Braves’ shortstop situation

The Braves watched Dansby Swanson Departure this winter in free hand. They will therefore go into the season with a question mark at the shortstop for the first time in six years.

As things stand, shortstop looks like a two-man clash between young infielders Vaughn Grissom and service providers Orlando Arkia. Grissom, 22, looks set to be the organization’s shortstop of the future. He has just 41 MLB games under his belt and has raised some questions about his ability to handle the position defensively, as many potential reviewers have suggested he would be better suited at second base or left field. Arcia has a much longer MLB track record, but owns a modest .243/.295/.369 streak in just under 2200 career plate appearances.

Veteran shortstop Elvis Andres remains unsigned and appears viable on paper for a win-now Atlanta team in a competitive division. However, there is no indication that the Braves have explored the possibility of adding a stopgap shortstop. Atlanta has put a decent amount of faith in its highly acclaimed young players in recent seasons, and baseball operations president Alex Anthopoulos expressed optimism about the internal candidates over the weekend.

Anthopoulos acknowledged that some have defensive concerns about Grissom, but noted that respected infield coach Ron Washington has made strong criticisms of his off-season work. “I can understand that the scouting community might have questions about Vaughn. I had questions about Vaughn when I first saw himsaid Anthopoulos (link via Justin Toscano from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution). “And I’ve often been wrong. The difference is that in Ron Washington we have a guy who is amazing with this stuff. He wouldn’t just say something to say it. … And look, we don’t know how Vaughn will score. He has to earn the job. Orlando Arcia can do that too. But Wash really believes in Vaughn. We believe in Vaughn too, but we’re going to go with the expert in the field, and I don’t know anyone better at the game than Ron.

Surely the Braves would love it if Grissom took the position in front of goal. The right-hander impressed on his first major league crack, hitting .291/.353/.440 with five homers in 156 plate appearances. He displayed an aggressive approach but quality hit-to-ball skills. Grissom mostly played with second base Ozzie Albies injured last season, with public defense metrics painting him a couple of runs under average in 347 innings of work.

Meanwhile, Albies will be back at the Keystone Austin Riley secured third base. The only non-shortstop position in the lineup that is unclear is left field, where a hodgepodge of players pass Eddie Rosario try to compete for reps. Skipper Brian Snitker stressed over the weekend that Grissom would not flow into the corner’s outfield during the exhibition game as the club only considers him an infielder (via Athletic’s David O’Brien).

28-year-old Arcia is a veteran fallback with a lower uptrend. He put on the best offensive performance of his career in a part-time role, hitting .244/.316/.416 with nine homers in 234 drives to the plate. That was the first above-average slash line in his seven Bundesliga seasons. Arcia made hard contact with a career-high 42.5% to rack up 18 extra base hits in 68 games. It’s been a fine year for the 28-year-old to at least push for the shortstop position when Grissom falters, although his modest career record on the record raises questions about his 2022 output spanning a full year year of daily shortstop reps.

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