I’m curious why Adam LaRoche is so hated by Braves fans. And look, I have a realistic view of Adam.
— He is NOT a good defensive player. Those touting him for future gold gloves are either deluded or flat lying. Yeah, he’s not Giambi, but, he’s not good by any defensive metric out there. And my own perceptions of his play confirm what the stats show.
— He is slow, very slow. Because he is a lefty, he will never be able to play any position other than first.
— He doesn’t have the team-leader “intangibles.” By all accounts he is quiet, and his nickname “three-second delay” indicates he’s not the guy teammates rally around.
— He is NOT the type of first baseman you build around. The Braves should have moved Chipper to first and held on to Andy Marte.
Given all of this, Adam LaRoche is a quality MLB ballplayer who will have a decent career. And it’s possible that he will gain some more power that might make him even more valuable. I suspect he will play for a lot of teams in a first base platoon and pinch hit. The Braves have very few options at first now that Marte is gone, so I don’t see what the deal is. In fact, I’m quite happy the Braves still have him around.
A player like LaRoche is hard to rally around. His swing is ugly, and he’s generally an unexciting player. His .220 batting average this year and 33 strikeouts are easy targets for criticism. But his 18 walks and .250 Isolated Power are beautiful. He has an OBP of .336 and a SLG of .471 for a healthy OPS of .807.
Compare this with Jeff Francoeur, whom everyone is cheering for and says, “but if you take out his slow start he’s hitting nearly hitting a lot better.” Blah, blah, blah. Really? If you take out the bad stuff, of course you’re going to look pretty good. Jeff has been stinking up the joint in a way that was totally expected from his minor league stats, and he’s not as good a hitter as LaRoche. Adam has produced 81 outs for the Braves this year compared to 105 by Francoeur—to lead the team. That’s 24 more more outs, nearly an entire game’s worth. My point isn’t to disparage Francoeur, but to point out that Adam is facing a different standard. He’s been a lot more valuable than Francoeur this year, but getting much harsher criticism.