Back in January, wanting to potentially increase their depth, the Braves signed 31-year old utility player Ehire Adrianza to a minor league deal that included an invite to Spring Training. If he made the club, Adrianza would receive a $1.5 million, 1-year contract.
But the chances he would make club were slim at best. For one, all the starting jobs were accounted for before Spring Training even started, meaning the only role was going to be on a four or five man bench. And secondly, the Braves casted a wide net in search of depth by signing a number of veteran players to similar deals, including Pablo, Sandoval, Jake Lamb, Yolmer Sanchez, and Jason Kipnis. They also had holdovers from years past like Ender Inciarte and Johan Camargo, all fighting for the same few spots. The chances for any one guy were not good.
Adrianza, as we know now, didn’t care much about the odds and quite literally made it impossible for the Braves to do anything other than roster him. In 40 Spring Training at-bats, he hit .400/.500/.700 while playing all over the field. He took a very hard decision and made it very easy. He was on the team.
And as we sit here on August 7th, the Braves are happier about that decision now than they ever thought they’d be. Adrianza very quickly became a crucial part of the team with huge pinch-hits in April and his versatility has allowed manager Brian Snitker options he never would’ve had otherwise.
For the season, Adrianza, who is a switch hitter, has a well above average 120 wRC+ as a LHB and a more than respectable 90 wRC+ from his weaker RH side. Those number include 18 walks to only 29 strikeouts and a surprising .171 ISO. For a smaller guy, Ehire can generate some serious pop, especially from the left side of the plate.
But his offense is only half of his value. This year alone, Adrianza has played 14 games in right field, 10 games at third base, six games in left field, four games at second base, four games at shortstop, one game in center field and one game at DH. All that of course to go along with his primary role as a daily pinch hitter. That much versatility wrapped into a player with a 110 wRC+ is a dream scenario for the National League game. And the Braves have had it all season.
Ronald Acuña Jr gets most of the credit for holding this team’s head above water when no one else was playing well, as he should, but don’t forget about his fellow Venezuelan countryman Ehire Adrianza. The veteran utility man has been everything the Braves could’ve hoped for and more this season.