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2021 Braves player review: Sean Kazmar Jr.

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Sean Kazmar Jr. returned to the majors for the first time since 2008.

Atlanta Braves v Chicago Cubs Photo by David Banks/Getty Images

One of the best stories of the 2021 season was Sean Kazmar Jr. returning to the Major Leagues with the Atlanta Braves for the first time since 2008. Kazmar has been a staple at Gwinnett since the 2013 season but finally got the call to return to the majors in April.

How acquired

Kazmar was originally drafted by the Padres in the fifth round of the 2004 MLB Draft. He spent the first five seasons of his professional career advancing through San Diego’s minor league system and made his major league debut in 2008 where he appeared in 19 games while hitting .205/.289/.231 in 46 plate appearances. He spent the 2009 and 2010 seasons at Triple-A for San Diego. He signed with Seattle as a minor league free agent in 2011 and then moved on to the Mets in 2012. The Braves signed him as a minor league free agent on January 19, 2013, and each year he has elected to stick with the organization.

Expectations

The expectations for Kazmar were the same as always. To provide some depth at Gwinnett while also being a veteran mentor for many of the young players passing through. That he finally got a chance at this stage to return to the majors for even a short amount of time shattered all previous expectations.

2021 Season results

Kazmar went to Spring Training with the Braves as a non-roster invitee and hit .409/.552/.864 with a double and three home runs in just 22 at-bats. With the minor league season delayed by a month, Kazmar headed to the alternate site to begin the season. The Braves selected his contract on April 17 in a flurry of roster moves and added him to the active roster. He made a pinch-hit appearance that night against the Cubs and then appeared as a pinch-runner and “defensive replacement” (for Pablo Sandoval, who was DHing) on April 20 against the Yankees. The Braves sent him back to the alternate site on April 24 but brought him back up on May 4. He made another pinch-hit plate appearance on May 5 against the Nationals but was optioned back on May 8 and outrighted off the 40-man roster two days later. In all, he appeared in three games for the Braves and went 0-for-2 at the plate. From there, Kazmar appeared in 83 games for Gwinnett while hitting .215/.264/.355 with nine doubles and nine home runs.

Sean Kazmar 2021 Stats

Gms AVG OBP SLG BB% K% wRC+ wOBA xwOBA
Gms AVG OBP SLG BB% K% wRC+ wOBA xwOBA
GWN - 83 .215 .264 .355 6.2 15.9 62 .273 ---------

What went right? What went wrong?

Even if it was just three games and two plate appearances, Kazmar returning to the majors was a great story for a guy that has stuck with the organization for so long.

Road to the Title

Kazmar somehow ended up with -0.01% cWPA on the season. That’s not notable in and of itself, but it’s kind of weird: that mark derives from him hitting into an inning-ending double play in the fifth inning the Braves were already trailing 6-0. It’s likely rounding at work, but it’s kind of odd that a play worth around -0.02 WPA translated to -0.0001 cWPA. Here’s the play, by the way:

Outlook for 2022

We will have to see what the future holds for Kazmar as he announced his retirement just a few days ago. Given his experience in the Braves’ organization, he would seem like a natural fit as a coach if that is something that he is interested in.