Monday, April 11, 2011

Please Hit More

The Braves are ten games into the season and have scored 32 runs. They have scored two or fewer runs in six of those ten games. The team hasn't scored a run for Derek Lowe since the second inning of his first start. Our first baseman has a .219 slugging percentage. Our second baseman is only marginally better. Our centerfielder is hitting about how we all expected he would (.575 OPS) and yet the manager hits him second, while the team's best hitter - Jason Heyward - languishes at sixth in the order. (Joe Sheehan has a blurb in this week's Sports Illustrated about how this is an indefensible decision by Fredi Gonzalez.) The bench has provided two hits in 23 at-bats. The Braves are dead-last in the NL in on-base percentage a year after finishing first in that category.

All we can say to ourselves is "it's early." Mark Bradley chimes in with a useful reminder that last year's 91-win team also didn't hit early:

Through 10 games, the 2011 Braves are hitting .229, which is lousy. The 2010 Braves were hitting .227 as April ended, and that was a larger sample set (23 games). The 2010 Braves were 9-14 after the season’s first month and looked as dead as a team can look. Four key players — Troy Glaus, Melky Cabrera, Matt Diaz and Nate McLouth — carried averages under .200.

Two issues here. One, I wish that Bradley would use a better stat than batting average. Two, while the Braves did improve offensively in 2010 after a very slow start, none of the four players whom Bradley lists ended up having good season. Glaus gave the Braves two great months and then ran out of gas, while Cabrera and Diaz played their way out of Atlanta and McLouth would have done the same if the Braves had any other options in centerfield. Maybe a little bit of panic is justified after three series.

1 comment:

peacedog said...

A slightly dated stat now is that the Braves had drawn 16 walks through 6 games this year and 30 through the first 6 last year (I Can't give 10 game totals but we're clearly lagging). That is disturbing, in and of itself. It's worth noting then that Chipper has just 2 walks in 10 games, something that probably hasn't happened all that often in his career. He's hardly the only issue on that front, but one of several signs tht better days should be ahead (lack of XBH for McCann, Uggla's history of slow starts, etc).

Heyward - and his .450 OB% or whatever it is - hitting 6th is even worse now because nobody is getting on base at the top of the order. There is less chance of jump starting something.