Brett Eibner might not have been a Los Angeles Dodger for very long, but he delivered one memorable moment during his 17-game run with the team in 2017. While the Dodgers don’t have too many players who can put up Stanton/Gallo-like exit velo numbers, they can still hit dingers in bunches; as of this writing, players wearing Dodger blue have hit 1,229 home runs since the beginning of the Statcast era in 2015. Only three of them traveled farther than this shot that Tyler Anderson gave up to Brett Eibner on May 13, 2017.
Unfortunately, one majestic Coors Field dong shot does not a great hitter make. Eibner spent most of his 2017 knocking around LA’s AAA affiliate in Oklahoma City and got released following that season. He hasn’t taken a plate appearance at the major league level since 2017, but he’s been able to stick around MiLB and unaffiliated leagues since then.
After the Dodgers
After washing out of the Texas Rangers’ minor league system in 2019, Eibner spent some time wandering through the wilds of American independent baseball. He hit .167 for the Texas AirHogs of the American Association, and he only put together eight plate appearances for the Sugar Land Skeeters of the Atlantic League. While he was struggling at the plate, however, he was putting together a solid resume as a pitcher. He posted an ERA of 1.38 while striking out 35 batters over 26 innings split between the two teams. After throwing five shutout innings for the Eastern Reyes del Tigre (of the Constellation Energy League, an impromptu indy league organized to showcase players hurt by the minor league shutdown in 2020– can you tell by the name?) in 2020, the Miami Marlins took a flyer on him. After spending three years in the backfields of American baseball, Brett Eibner returned the big leagues once again.
And so we arrive at the meat of the Brett Eibner Appreciation Post. Brett Eibner went from a washed fifth outfielder to a reliever for (suppressed laughter) a contending team in a few months. That was the story of how Eibner reincarnated himself; how did he use his new lease on life in MLB?
There’s no getting around it: Eibner hasn’t had much success in MLB as a pitcher or a hitter, but the fact that he’s had a chance to try his hand at both roles makes him special. He’s thrown 3 ⅓ innings at the Major League level, and all of them came with the 2020 Marlins. Those innings were, well, pretty terrible. He walks wayyyy too many batters and none of his primary pitches have particularly high spin rates. If you want all the gory numbers (3.30 WHIP, .811 xSLG, etc.), you can walk on over to his Baseball Savant page here. Just remember: Eibner has all of 3 ⅓ MLB innings to his name. Substantive analysis will be difficult to come by.
Can Brett Eibner contribute at the major-league level in 2021 and beyond? Well, his four-seam fastball sits in the mid-90s, albeit with a below-average spin rate. He also throws a cutter, which doesn’t move much but gets to the plate faster than the average cutter. His slider has above-average vertical movement on it as well, and thanks to the fact that there will indeed be a minor league season in 2021, Eibner has an opportunity to hunker down in a low-pressure environment and work on developing his repertoire. In terms of fWAR, the 2020 Marlins relief staff tied with the Mariners for last in the major leagues with a cool -1.4, so Eibner will probably have another chance in Miami’s bullpen if he’s able to put together some quality innings down in Jacksonville. A team that’s apparently committing to Anthony Bass as its closer (and will almost certainly struggle to wring competent innings out of its starters) will need as much relief help as it can get.
Why Is Brett Eibner Important?
If there is a point to this little jaunt through Baseballs Reference and Savant, it’s that Brett Eibner is cool. Players who are able to reinvent themselves at a totally different position well into their careers are rare, and they should be treasured. If Eibner’s able to reverse-Rick-Ankiel his way from big league fourth outfielder to big league pitcher, he’ll make MLB a much more interesting place. Whoever you are, no matter which team you root for, you ought to root for Brett Eibner.