Atlanta Braves GM Alex Anthopoulos hopes he’s dead wrong about Vaughn Grissom playing shortstop.
After the Braves sat by and watched star shortstop Dansby Swanson sit in free agency and ultimately sign with the Chicago Cubs, the club is now set to move forward with some sort of combination of Vaughn Grissom and Orlando Arcia at the position.
Grissom, freshly 22 years old, received a brief 41-game cameo in 2022 for the Braves and performed very well, hitting five home runs and driving in 18 while posting a .291 average and a 121 OPS+. Not too bad for someone who went straight from Double-A to the big leagues.
Braves general manager Alex Anthopoulos recently went on record to say that he understands why scouts have had some questions about Grissom’s ability to play shortstop long-term. He recently told Justin Toscano of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution:
"“I can see how the scouting community might have questions about Vaughn. I had questions about Vaughn when I first saw him, I’ve been wrong plenty of times. The difference is we have a guy in Ron Washington who’s unbelievable with this stuff. He wouldn’t just say something to say it. … And, look, we don’t know how Vaughn’s going to hit. He’s got to earn the job. Orlando Arcia can do it, too. But Wash really believes in Vaughn. We believe in Vaughn, too, but we’re going to go with who we think the expert in that area is, and I don’t know anybody better in the game than Ron.”"
Braves: Alex Anthopoulos hopes he was dead wrong about Vaughn Grissom
There’s a lot to unpack in a quote like that. First off, it’s increasingly rare in today’s game for someone as high on the totem pole as a general manager to come out and say that he isn’t/wasn’t sure about one of his young players.
Second, the Ron Washington hype train seems to be the real deal. Washington is a highly respected figure in the game of baseball and has functioned as a manager and coach for decades now. He believes in Grissom, which should carry a lot of weight around the league because the man knows what he’s talking about.
To AA’s defense, it’s understandable why there were some questions marks. Coming up through the minors, Grissom primarily played shortstop but didn’t light up defensive metrics along the way. He’s also gotten some time at both second and third, but overall he profiles much more like a second baseman than anything else.
Last year when he was promoted to the bigs, Swanson was still on the team so Grissom got in only 10 innings at shortstop. While he was a decent defender at second, his skills with the glove are really going to be put to the test in the upcoming season.
Per Baseball Savant, Grissom finished last season in the 10th percentile in Arm Strength. The rough translation of that, is that he has a “noodle arm”. In his defense, this is a very small sample size so it will be interesting to see where these rankings sit at this time next year.