Some Experts Forget That Atlanta Braves' Evan Gattis Was Only A Rookie

By Rob Holden
Atlanta Braves
Kevin Liles – USA TODAY Sports

I can’t speak for the rest of humanity, and so I won’t. But from where I stand, the world around me seems to be one that is becoming increasingly hedonistic.

We want too much. It really is that simple. We want too much, and we want it now. We don’t want to wait for it. It’s not good enough that one day you might be a 30-30 guy, that given 2-3 years more experience you’ll probably be competing for the league lead in sacks, or that once you put on another 20 pounds of muscle you’ll be a sizeable force on the boards down low. You must be a superstar now, and you must not waver in your superstarness.

We simply won’t have it. And if you do (and you will), we will subject you to ruthless scrutiny, both clinical and amateur. Everyone will be allowed their say as the Constitution grants, and every babbling idiot with a Facebook account or Twitter profile will suddenly become an expert on you and why you suck. It comes with the territory I suppose, but I’ll have you know that I, for one, am terribly sorry.

I’m sorry Evan Gattis. I’m sorry you have to sit here and listen to people like Daniel Kelley of SB Nation, who proposes that you be but a small part of a platoon at catcher next year, only getting the start when a left-handed pitcher is on the mound.

Kelley isn’t a total buffoon; he makes some decent points. Sure, Gattis only had a .291 OBP last year (.265 against righties). Yes, this is a tremendous drop-off from Brian McCann, who posts a career .350 OBP (.362 against righties). But Mr. Kelley, I wonder, did you at all consider how long Mr. Gattis has been in the league? One season. He has 382 career plate appearances, not one at the major league level before last year.

Did you forget that, Mr. Kelley? Or is that some detail you became blind to in your desire for Mr. Gattis to satisfy your sporting needs right here, right now, not a second later?

The Atlanta Braves‘ catcher was a true rookie, and to cite his age as if it is a credential (and one that causes more to be expected of him) is absurd. He’s 27-years old. Admittedly, this is a bit steep for a rookie, but he has no more experience at the big league level than the next confident 19-year-old coming up through the system.

His offensive numbers need improvement (and that’s to say nothing of his defensive skills), but Gattis may possess more raw power than anyone in all of baseball. He’ll never hit .300; he doesn’t have that kind of swing. But he won’t need to, and no one with any baseball savvy would ever ask it of him. He’s a throwback power hitter, turning the handle of the oak tree he brings to the plate into sawdust in front of a pitcher’s eyes.

Give him time, Mr. Kelley (and all ye other detractors). He’s young. He’s inexperienced. I’m sure that in the first year of your career, you weren’t dazzling everyone either. You were probably fetching someone’s coffee, forgetting that they like sweet and low instead of sugar. But I shouldn’t be so hard on you. My point is this: you messed up too. You made mistakes, learned as you went and undoubtedly improved.

Give Gattis the same respect. Let him learn, be more patient with him. The raw talent is there; allow some time to see if he can flourish. It’s entirely unfair to subject a man’s performance to such baseless scrutiny after a single season. I for one look for Gattis to be even better this year than last — not a breakout season, just one of improvement.

And quite honestly, what more can we ask? (A lot, I know, but we shouldn’t).

Rob Holden is an Atlanta Braves writer for Follow him on Twitter @RobMHolden, “Like” him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google.

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