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2018 Atlanta Braves Player Review: Dustin Peterson

When I was a baseball naif, I really used to enjoy browsing the Baseball-Reference frivolties section (https://www.baseball-reference.com/friv/). One of the sections on this page was (and still is) named “Cups of Coffee,” and refers to a listing of players that had only one major league game to their credit. Dustin Peterson does not appear on this list, and will not appear on this list, because he appeared in two games in the 2018. Two is greater than one, but just barely, and that’s about all that can be said about Dustin Peterson, 2018 major league baseball player.

The Braves never appeared particularly high on Peterson after acquiring him in the pre-2015 deal that sent Justin Upton to the Padres. He was not protected on the 40-man roster ahead of this past winter’s Rule 5 draft but went unclaimed, and did not win a bench role in Spring Training. Repeating Triple-A for the second consecutive year, Peterson improved on his .248/.318/.318 line from 2017 by hitting .268/.324/.406 with 11 homers in 442 PAs. However, with Preston Tucker and Nick Markakis playing well to begin the year, and then the heralded arrival of Ronald Acuña Jr. thereafter, there wasn’t much room for Peterson. In addition, the Braves had guaranteed major league money to Peter Bourjos, who offered more speed and defensive aptitude.

But, on May 28, things changed, if only for a little bit. Acuña was injured on a gruesome-looking play running down the first base line in Boston (I was there) and placed on the Disabled List; Peterson was recalled to take his place. He got his first major-league plate appearance that same day, striking out against Jeurys Familia as a pinch-hitter to close out an 8-5 Braves loss at Citi Field. (That game was the second part of a doubleheader that the Braves split with the Mets.) Two days later, he flew out, this time against Mets’ reliever Tim Peterson (no relation) to make the third out of the seventh inning in a one-run game. The Braves would go on to lose that game by a three-run margin, and Peterson went optioned back to Triple-A Gwinnett the next day as Peter Bourjos was recalled in his stead.

Three months later, Peterson was designated for assignment when the Braves re-acquired Preston Tucker. For those keeping score at home, this made it twice in the same season that Peterson was organizationally “bumped” by a player to whom he had lost a bench spot in Spring Training. He was claimed on waivers by the Detroit Tigers, but did not get into a game with his new team as the Triple-A season had already ended.

Bottom line, what did he do in 2018? He struck out twice in two pinch-hit PAs. Yep.

Will Peterson be on the roster next year? No, he didn’t even finish 2018 on Atlanta’s roster.

What is he going to do next year? The Tigers do not have a particularly strong or deep MLB outfield, as only Nick Castellanos and JaCoby Jones put up above-replacement outfield performance for Detroit without being dealt away in 2018. He could conceivably battle for an outfield spot on a rebuilding Tigers club next year, or do the same somewhere else if he’s removed as part of a roster crunch.

Highlight but also lowlight of 2018: In his first major-league plate appearance, Peterson worked a 2-2 count against Familia, and then took ball three outside.

Watching this cracks me up every time. It’s not so much that he forgot the count, but the fact that he walks slowly towards first base, then halts as Familia raises his arms mid-step and then rocks back on his foot and walks backward all the way into the batter’s box. Dustin Peterson, what a character. Peterson took the next Familia pitch (not shown above) for a called third strike right down the pipe.

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