Atlanta Braves Lineup Hot and Cold

ATLANTA, GA - MARCH 30: Dansby Swanson
ATLANTA, GA - MARCH 30: Dansby Swanson /
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Atlanta Braves Shortstop Dansby Swanson's one of three very hot players to start this season.
Atlanta Braves Shortstop Dansby Swanson’s one of three very hot players to start this season. /

The Atlanta Braves lineup produced more runs (56) in the first seven games of 2018. That’s the best in baseball since 2003 (Yankees), the best in modern Braves Franchise history and ties the 1900 Boston Beaneaters for the all time franchise record.

It’s been fun to watch all those runs cross the plate and Atlanta Braves pitchers getting the win. Going into today’s play, Fangraphs shows the Braves led MLB in fWAR (2.7). team batting average (298), on base percentage (.391) and batting with RISP (.443.)  Their .353 wOBA and 122 wRC+ were second only to the White Sox.

We expected production from Freddie Freeman but he’s had unexpected help from the lower half of the lineup when Preston Tucker, Dansby Swanson and Ryan Flaherty seem top be on every pitch when it counts the most.

We all know it’s impossible to keep up this pace but there’s a good possibility the lineup will remain productive even after the current hot players cool off a bit.’

The numbers so far

A Quick look at the numbers from Baseball Savant for each player provides the answer to who’s hot, who’s not and why.

Player Pitches BA OBP SLG OPS BAbip
Freddie Freeman 158 .409 .618 .818 1.436 .412
Ender Inciarte 139 .226 .265 .258 .523 .269
Nick Markakis 126 .310 .412 .483 .895 .348
Ozzie Albies 119 .206 .206 .500 .706 .192
Ryan Flaherty 102 .400 .516 .560 1.076 .526
Preston Tucker 101 .435 .462 .783 1.245 .444
Dansby Swanson 97 .370 .370 .556 .926 .455

The list is sorted by pitches seen.  Pitchers want no part of Freddie, so he sees a lot of pitches that aren’t strikes and  takes his walks.  After last nights game Freeman’s 35.3% walk rate led MLB, five percent ahead of Bryce Harper in second place with Paul Goldschmidt in third at 28%.

It’s no surprise Freeman’s on base and OPS lead the team. The surprise comes when you see that Tucker slots into second place, Flaherty in third and Swanson fourth. Flaherty and Tucker are particularly noteworthy because most consider them placeholders for Johan Camargo and Ronald Acuña.

The numbers also show us that Swanson, Tucker and Flaherty are hitting in a good deal of luck.