Bryce Elder is a breakout star this year for the Braves, but you wouldn’t know it from his peripheral data.
The Atlanta Braves have had injury problems–specifically in their starting rotation–all year long. SP Bryce Elder has stepped up in a major way. How does a player with god-awful sabermetrics make the entire league learn to respect their Elder?
Bryce Elder came into the league a hot prospect out of Texas for the Braves, and he did not disappoint at first. Then Elder started to drop off in production. Elder subsequently found himself back in Triple-A Gwinnett.
After finishing strong in Gwinnett in 2022, Elder went back up to the majors and had some good outings. This season following Spring Training, Elder did not make the Opening day roster.
After an injury to SP Max Fried the Braves called up Elder and he has been lights out. Despite Statcast painting Elder as one of the worst pitchers (stat wise), he has the best ERA in the National League.
Elder Before the League
During his time at the University of Texas at Austin, Elder quickly established himself as a force to be reckoned with on the pitching mound. He became an integral part of the Longhorns’ baseball team, helping lead them to numerous victories and achievements.
As a freshman, Elder primarily played as a relief pitcher, making a total of 22 appearances and posting a 5.55 ERA in 35.2 innings pitched. He demonstrated promising control and precision in his pitches, striking out 31 batters while walking only 18.
Elder’s sophomore season saw him transition to a starting pitcher role, where he truly began to shine. Over 13 starts, he registered a 2.93 ERA in 83 innings pitched, striking out 86 batters and walking only 33. His outstanding performance earned him First Team All-Big 12 honors and a spot on the All-Big 12 Tournament Team.
MLB Draft and Minor League Career
In the 2020 MLB June Amateur Draft, the Atlanta Braves selected Bryce Elder in the 5th round. This marked the beginning of his professional baseball career, kicking off with stints in the minor leagues.
Elder’s minor league journey began with the Rome Braves (A+), then the Mississippi Braves (AA) and Gwinnett Stripers (AAA). Over the course of the 2021 season at all three levels, he posted an impressive 2.75 ERA across 25 starts, striking out 155 batters in 137.2 innings pitched.
His performance in the 2021 season earned him multiple accolades, including being named to the Mid-Season All-Star Team and receiving Pitcher of the Week honors. His rapid progress through the minor league ranks demonstrated his immense potential as a professional baseball player.
Major League Debut and Rookie Season
Bryce Elder’s hard work and dedication in the minor leagues paid off when he made his Major League debut with the Atlanta Braves in 2022. In his first season in the big leagues, Elder appeared in 10 games as a starting pitcher, posting a respectable 3.17 ERA in 54 innings pitched.
Throughout his rookie season, Elder showcased his exceptional pitching skills, striking out 47 batters while walking only 23. His ability to maintain control and composure on the mound allowed him to quickly adapt to the increased level of competition in the Major Leagues.
Elder’s Pitching Style
Bryce Elder’s success on the mound can be attributed to his diverse repertoire of pitches and his ability to effectively execute them in various situations. His primary pitches include a fastball, slider, and changeup, all of which he can throw with precision and control.
One of Elder’s most notable strengths is his ability to generate a high number of strikeouts. With a career strikeout rate of 7.7 per nine innings, he has demonstrated a knack for keeping opposing batters off balance and guessing at the plate.
Bryce Elder, Wicked Sliders. 🤢 pic.twitter.com/BfxpMxMMZE
— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) May 31, 2023
In addition to his strikeout ability, Elder is also known for his solid command and control. His low walk rate (3.2 per nine innings) and impressive strikeout-to-walk ratio (2.45) highlight his ability to consistently locate his pitches and limit free passes to opposing batters.
Challenges for Elder
While Bryce Elder has enjoyed a successful start to his professional baseball career, there are still areas in which he can continue to improve. One such area is limiting home runs, as he has allowed a career home run rate of 0.6 per nine innings. By working to keep the ball in the park more consistently, Elder can further solidify his status as a reliable starting pitcher. As the graphic of Statcast sliders shows, Elder does not have much room for error.
Bryce Elder's ERA is now 1.92. pic.twitter.com/lR1jkykvK2
— Codify (@CodifyBaseball) May 31, 2023
Another area for improvement is Elder’s ability to pitch deeper into games. While he has demonstrated the ability to pitch effectively in shorter stints, increasing his stamina and durability on the mound will be crucial as he continues to develop as a Major League starter.
Elder is currently at the bottom of most advanced statistical categories in MLB. Elder is in the 9th percentile of hard-hit rate, 36th percentile in K%, 8th percentile in fastball velocity, and 4th percentile in fastball spin rate. When you look at his Savant page, Elder looks like a pitcher struggling to make it past 5 innings.
#Braves enjoy an off day as they open up June. Seems like a good time to reflect on one of the best stories of the season so far…
Bryce Elder, MLB ERA leader. pic.twitter.com/tyFk7n9Qjv
— Grant McAuley (@grantmcauley) June 1, 2023
When you take the sabermetrics out of it and just look at baseball on the field, you realize Elder is one of the best in the league. The righty out of Texas has a 1.92 ERA, best in MLB, and continues to generate ground ball after ground ball out. With his mental fortitude and his great off-speed pitches, Elder has a future in this league that is getting brighter and brighter with every batter faced.
Future Outlook for Elder
Bryce Elder’s rapid ascent through the minor leagues and early success in the Major Leagues suggest a long career ahead for this talented young pitcher. With continued hard work and dedication, Elder has the potential to become a mainstay in the Atlanta Braves’ starting rotation for years to come.
As Elder’s career progresses, fans and baseball enthusiasts alike can look forward to watching this rising star continue to develop and make his mark on the game.
"The biggest thing with him is he's learned who he is as a pitcher."
— Bally Sports South (@BallySportsSO) May 31, 2023
In summary, Bryce Elder has proven himself as a promising young talent in the world of baseball. From his early days in Decatur, Texas, to his time at the UT, and now as a pro with the Atlanta Braves, Elder has showcased his immense potential with his impressive skills on the mound. As he continues to grow and develop as a player, there is no doubt that the future is bright for Bryce Elder.