Thursday, May 13, 2010

Still Unlucky

Last August, I lamented that the Braves were underperforming their expected won-loss record. With their runs scored and runs allowed, they should have had more wins. 2009 was a continuation of an extended trend, as the Braves had consistently underperformed relative to their expected record since 2006.

Sure enough, we're six weeks into the 2010 season and the Braves are two games under .500, but with their run differential, they should be two games over. Normally, I wouldn't care about about a two-game disparity, but coming on the heels of four straight "unlucky" seasons, this is a a problem. I'm at a loss to come up with an explanation, so I need some help. The bullpen is normally the first explanation for a team underperforming its expected record, but the pen was good last year and it has been good this year. Here is the best I can come up with:

1. The Braves are not good at situational hitting, so they struggle to eke a run across when they really need one.

2. The Braves are slow, so they can't manufacture a run in a close game.

3. Bobby isn't a good tactical manager at the end of a close game.

4. Karma is punishing us for 1991-2005.

5. ???

Suggestions welcome.


Mac said...

I've written many times that it doesn't make any sense to me... going completely out on a limb, poor lineup construction? Sometimes it seems like the Braves are particularly vulnerable to specialist relievers. But this year, Bobby's been pretty careful to avoid those runs of lefties and righties that have hurt in the past.

Ryno said...

6. Lack of a true leadoff hitter since Furcal left for California?

Anonymous said...

I guess I wouldn't add the "at the end of a close game" caveat to your #3. When a team is in an extended hitting slump, as the Braves have been for the last 30 days or so, most managers would acknowledge that they are going to have to score on singles and sacrifices. At that point, you start playing your bunt/hit and run/sacrifice game in the first inning, not the seventh. That way, if you know you're only going to get four runs, you don't give up opportunities to score while trying to get the big inning early in the contest. Bobby, bless his heart, thinks that big inning is always just around the corner. His lineup simply doesn't support that viewpoint.

Henrik said...

How's it going?

Caelus said...

Brian McCann - slow start due to eye problems but will straighten out

Troy Glaus - bad start but starting to produce - better glove than expected

Chipper Jones - I love this guy but he is a black hole in the middle of the lineup and a chief reason for the Braves funk

Melky Cabrera - has contributed nothing

Matt Diaz - the hitting machine is not

Nate McClouth - nothing here either

Terry Pendleton - explain to me again why he is still the hitting coach?

When do we see a picture of Bobby Cox and crew in their joot suits?

Jesse said...

I blame Karma

Stephen said...

1 and 2 are empirically testable. Essentially, 1 and 2 ask, do the Braves do disproportionately poorly in high leverage situations and disproportionately well in low leverage situations?

I'll propose an amendment to #3: Perhaps the Braves aren't very strategic in blowouts. If Bobby leaves good players in/uses unnecessarily good bullpen arms in games that the Braves are clearly going to win, that artificially inflates the run differential and directly deflates wins via fatigue and injury.

Ryno and Caelus' comments don't explain why run differential consistently misses high when predicting wins for the Braves.

Btw, congrats to Barca.

Unknown said...

My pet theory is a combination of below average power, and atrocious speed on the basepaths.
The Braves have been good at putting runners on base, but its mostly through singles and walks. And apart from rare instances, there are only so many times you are going to string enough hits together.

Who was the last Brave to hit 30 HRs?