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TGIF: Nate McLouth Traded to Atlanta

This past week, Pittsburgh Pirates CF Nate McLouth was dealt to the Atlanta Braves for three minor league players (SP Charlie Morton, OF Gorkys Hernandez, and SP Jeff Locke). The Braves are hoping to beef up their offense and make a charge in the N.L. East where they trail Philadelphia by 5.5 games. As it stands as of this writing, the Braves are 11th in the N.L. with 4.38 runs scored per game, 12th in HR, and are hitting .258 as a team. The Pirates were almost neck and neck with Braves for offensive futility by being 12th in runs scored (4.33), 10th in HR, and hitting .264 as a team.

Enough of the real world implications. We are here to see what impact, if any, that this trade has on Nate McLouth. When McLouth makes his debut for the Braves, he will already be the team leader in HR, RBI, and SB. Utilizing the offensive ability of McLouth is something that the Braves need to do in order to put runs on the scoreboard. I am afraid though that McLouth’s season is headed for a downfall.

Yes, I royally f**cked up with my Zack Greinke predicition. I admit it, I was wrong. Let’s get over it. In the case of McLouth, we all know I am right.

McLouth came to the fantasy forefront last season when he had a breakout year with 113 R, .276 avg, 26 HR, 94 RBI, and 23 SB. He was elected to his first All-Star Game and he won a Gold Glove. This season has not been as remarkable. So far in ’09, he is hitting .256 with 9 HR and 21 RBI, which is well off his ’08 pace. Combine his subpar numbers to his move to one of the most notorious, pitcher-friendly environments in Turner Field, and it spells doom for McLouth.

This season, McLouth has enjoyed the home field advantage a bit too much since his home and road splits tell us that he is batting .319 at PNC Park and an abysmal .176 on the road. Even worse is that he is a career .261 hitter at his new home, Turner Field. We are also sadly coming upon the month of June, which is statistically McLouth’s worst month where he has hit .206 in his career.

When you put all of these elements together, nothing good will come of it. Here we have a breakout player from last season who is not living up to expectations and is moving to a pitcher’s park in one of the worst run-producing offenses in the National League. Yeah, I think you know what to do with good ole Nate.

A big question about this trade was where McLouth would be batting in Atlanta’s order. Well, too ease your minds, McLouth was slated to bat 3rd in the Braves’ game on Thursday night against the Chicago Cubs. However, the game was rained out, so McLouth’s debut will be put off until Friday. Also, when a player gets traded to a new team, he usually has a small burst of offense when he first arrives. We have all seen it before countless times. So, if that is the case here, then you should jump on the opportunity and trade McLouth if he chooses to flash some offense in his first few days in Atlanta.

Also of note is McLouth’s replacment in Pittsburgh. The Pirates called up Andrew McCutchen to fill the CF spot. In the minors, McCutchen was hitting .303 with 4 HR. 20 RBI, and 10 SB. He won’t give you power, he is mostly your batting average and SB guy. In his debut on Thursday night, he went 2-4 with an RBI and 3 runs scored while batting leadoff.

I screwed the pooch on the Greinke prediction, but I am sure this time. Say goodbye to Nate McLouth as a valuable fantasy outfielder.

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2 comments for “TGIF: Nate McLouth Traded to Atlanta”

  1. I disagree. With no offensive help in Pittsburgh pitchers have learned their lesson with McLouth and haven’t given him much to hit. With guys like Brian McCann and Chipper Jones behind him, he’ll get every opportunity to succeed. His speed is something the Braves covet and he’ll be let loose when he gets on the base paths. Not sure if he’ll repeat his ’08 numbers, but there’s no reason for him to do worse than he did for the Pirates.

    Posted by Jeff | June 5, 2009, 9:56 am
  2. A closer look at McLouth’s numbers won’t have you singing such a joyful tune.

    In 2008, McLouth batted .276 with a .291 BABIP. This means he was hitting decently well, but also the balls were falling for him more often than not. So, an element of luck was at hand.

    This season, he is hitting .256 with a .262 BABIP. This means that his pure skill is WORSE than his luck. If the balls are dropping out of luck more often than he is able to hit them, then eventually the luck will run out and his crappy hitting won’t produce a decent batting average.

    McLouth’s line drive percentage (LD%) is also down from last season (18.5% to 13.6%) which also leads to decreased BABIP and it explains his inability to hit to the gap and get doubles (46 last season, only 7 this season).

    His ground ball percentage (GB%) has spiked significantly from 34.5% to 41.4%. All he is doing is slapping the ball to the infield in most at bats and as evident by the low LD%, he is not making solid contact.

    No offesnive help? The Pirates are hitting better as a team (better team batting average) and come on, Jason Bay flourished in Pittsburgh for years with no offensive help as a member of the Pirates.

    I think the average will either stay the same or go down, it will not get better and his HR totals will sink in that ballpark. I mean come on, the team leader in HR in Atlanta only has five HR on the year (Yunel Escobat, Kelly Johnson, Brian McCann, and Chipper Jones).

    I don’t see Atlanta coveting McLouth’s speed since the Braves only have 12 SB as a team. Clearly Atlanta is not a running team (not that I am trying to tell you how your team does things). Plus, with McLouth batting 3rd, I don’t see him getting a lot of opportunities to run if he isn’t batting leadoff or 2nd. Plus, since his hitting will be poor, he won’t be on the basepaths that much anyway.

    So yes Jeff, there is reason to believe that McLouth will do worse in Atlanta.

    Posted by Pete | June 5, 2009, 2:57 pm

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