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2019 Atlanta Braves Season in Review: Tyler Flowers

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More of the same for the Braves’ steady-yet-unspectacular backstop.

MLB: Chicago White Sox at Atlanta Braves Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

This season was Tyler Flowers’ fourth with the Braves, believe it or not. The bat took a step back, but the pitch framing continued to be strong and he remained a reliable-yet-uninspiring option behind the dish. You can do a lot worse in today’s wasteland of catcher across the league, even if there were a few too many passed balls. Let’s review his 2019.

Statline: 85 games, .229/.319/.413, 88 wRC+, 11 HR, 34 RBI, 2.1 WAR

What Went Right: So much of Flowers’ value comes from his pitch framing abilities, ranking 4th among all catchers in that regard. It’s one of those things that really don’t stand out on a game-by-game basis, but he excels at it and routinely steals strikes for the Braves’ pitchers.

As mentioned above, his bat took a step back as he posted the lowest wRC+ during his tenure in Atlanta. You can do a lot worse in today’s game, and his platoon with Brian McCann returned league-average results offensively.

What Went Wrong: Flowers has generally been pretty steady behind the plate, but he surrendered a league-worst 18 passed balls in 2019, which is double his mark in 2018. Perhaps it was a result of being too casual while trying to yank balls back towards the strike zone, but there were numerous occasions when it really stung the Braves. Offensively, a career-worst 33.9% strikeout rate became a real issue as he often came to the plate with runners on base.

2020 Forecast: It seemed more likely than not the Braves would exercise Flowers’ $6M option for next year and that was before Brian McCann announced his retirement. It now seems like nearly a guarantee that Flowers returns unless 1) there’s an injury we don’t know about or 2) the front office is really confident they will be able to sign Yasmani Grandal to a big-dollar deal over the next few months. In that scenario, one would assume the Braves would opt for a cheaper backup to help make finances work. At the end of the day, though, it seems like Flowers will be back for a fifth year in Atlanta.