Monday, April 13, 2009

The Braves Report

I was cruising around on today and saw that they have released their MLB power rankings for the week with none other than the Atlanta Braves sitting at the #1 spot. Anyone can look good for a week (especially when they play a series against the Nationals), so I thought I'd take a closer look at how the Braves have done so far, and maybe break down some stats.

First, the offense...
  • As of today, the Braves are 6th in the majors in plate appearances per home run (21.3). Of the 5 teams ahead of them, Colorado, Tampa Bay, Texas, and Chicago will probably be in the top 10 all season long, and I expect the Braves to fall back about 10 spots by June (they came in at #23 last year).
  • The Braves rank 3rd in the majors in extra base hits with 29. I'd love to see them continue to hit the ball and rack up all these home runs and doubles, but last year they came in at number 19 in the country, and that was with Teixeira batting clean-up.
  • As a team, the Braves have struck out 42 times and walked 21 times in 2009, which puts them at about 15th place in the majors.
  • Atlanta currently has the highest team OPS in the majors, and is the only team above .900. In 2008 the Braves posted a team OPS of .753, suggesting that the offense is currently overproducing and will probably experience a huge collapse in the near future.
  • For those interested in pitch counts, the Braves have just 2 hitters in the top 100 pitches per plate appearance category: Casey Kotchman (#48) and Jordan Schafer (#68).
  • Of the 2 teams Atlanta has played against, Philadelphia's pitchers rank 12th in the nation with a WHIP of 1.36, and Washington's pitchers come in dead last with a collective WHIP of 1.86. The national average is 1.40.
Translation: Atlanta's offense was really hot last week against some very poor pitching. They displayed mediocre plate discipline, and so far have been very inept at working the count. Expect a lot fewer doubles and home runs in the coming weeks, and a lot of opposing pitchers taking advantage of the Braves hack-and-run philosophy by getting early strikes in the dirt or outside the strike zone.

And now the pitching...

  • Atlanta's pitching staff ranks 14th in the nation with a collaborative ERA of 4.17. Last year they finished the year about 50 points higher with a mix of very ineffective pitchers, so as long as the starters stay healthy this year, a 4.20 ERA seems reasonable. That would put them inside the top 15.
  • The bullpen has blown 3 saves this year, which ties them with Milwaukee for the worst bullpen in the country.
  • Atlanta's pitching corp ranks 23rd in the nation in WHIP.
  • Braves starters have provided 3 quality starts this year, which is on pace with the major league average.
  • Philadelphia and Washington rank towards the middle to lower end of major league teams in most offensive categories.
Translation: The Braves pitching has done a decent job so far, all except for a couple of blown saves by the bullpen. The starters have pitched well and aren't giving up a lot of early runs, but they haven't blown away the competition either. Expect more of the same, unless injuries derail the system.

The #1 ranking by ESPN seems a bit aggressive and ill-conceived, but as long as the Braves keep winning, I'll be happy.
Overall, the Braves are looking good, and the rotation looks to be much more dependable than last year. However, the offensive production is likely to taper off, and once it does I think Atlanta will probably carry a winning percentage closer to .500 throughout the season. ...Read more


Micah said...

This article did not make me feel warm and squishy inside. But unfortunately I tend to agree with you.

I think ESPN knows they make money when people have stuff to talk about. Atlanta did great opening week, and thats good enough for ESPN to stir up a little controversy and get all the fans talking. I wouldn't put much stock in such articles. Especially at this point in the season.

Adam G said...

I agree, Micah. I thought it was an interesting pick, and I guess they got what they wanted since I put up a link and used their site to look up a bunch of stats.

I also didn't feel particularly warm and squishy inside writing this post. I'm glad to see the pitching staff do well, but I cringe whenever Chipper sprints around 3rd base or slides, and I start pulling my hair out every time Francoeur swings at a slider low and away.

James said...

Lol... you guys are debbie downers :)

Whenever Chipper swings the bat, I worry that his hand will fall off ;) hehe

It's great to see the Braves winning period. I really think we need another LHP in the bullpen and I want to see Charlie Morton filling in, NOT Jo Jo :(