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2018 Atlanta Braves Player Review: Johan Camargo

Of all the things the Braves accomplished in 2018, I’m not sure there was a bigger (and more pleasant) surprise than Johan Camargo.

Camargo, who was never much of a prospect coming through the minor league ranks, debuted in 2017 with much fanfare, although there were some fairly obvious concerns. His batting average on balls in play was an unrepeatable .364, he wasn’t walking enough (just 4.7% in 250+ plate appearances) and there was concern he wouldn’t hit for enough power if given a full season at third base.

Needless to say, Johan answered all of those questions (and more) over the last six months.

Bottom line, what did he do in 2018? The 24-year-old infielder hit .272/.349/.457 with a 115 wRC+, 19 homers and 76 RBI. He posted a 3.3 WAR in 134 games, good for 11th in the majors among third basemen. His glove was equally good with +7 Defensive Runs Saved.

It’s easy to forget that Camargo actually missed a few weeks of Spring Training and then Opening Day as he recovered from a groin injury. This potentially prompted the club to sign Jose Bautista, who was given numerous chances to lock down third base before Camargo eventually forced Atlanta’s hand with a full-time role. (Though, there was also that weird stretch of a few games where a healthy Camargo was left in Triple-A while Ryan Flaherty and Bautista manned the hot corner.) Camargo never looked back after the Braves released Bautista on May 20th.

Will Camargo be on the roster next year? I’d be pretty stunned if he wasn’t.

What is he going to do next year? It’s a little hard to predict given how many different looks Camargo has given in his relatively short career so far, but he could really be anything between a strong, above-average third baseman to a relatively ineffective batter that might be best off when platooned and only facing lefty pitchers.

Highlight of 2018: There were a bunch of memorable moments for Johan, including a walk-off homer against the Mets, but it’s hard to top this go-ahead two-run single against the Phillies in front of a raucous crowd at SunTrust Park. While the win didn’t officially clinch the NL East title for the Braves, it sure felt like it.

Lowlight of 2018: The NLDS was not kind to Johan. He went 0-for-15 with five strikeouts and just one walk. Needless to say, his bat going silent did not help the Braves’ cause against LA’s pitching staff.

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