Report card time: 2019 pitching grades for Atlanta Braves
With report cards out on the Atlanta Braves offense, now it’s time to grade the team’s pitching from 2019.
Earlier this week I released my offensive grades for the Atlanta Braves 2019 season, doing my best to provide an overview of the team’s performance both as a group and in terms of each individual player.
With an improved top half of the lineup, as well as a deeper bench, I gave the Atlanta Braves offense an overall grade of a B+ — a letter grade that essentially translates as an above average group.
All season long, the Braves’ lineup generated offense at an elite level, thus doing an outstanding job of keeping up with 2019’s extraordinary run environment. In fact, the 2019 Braves were amongst the top-10, and even top-5, in numerous offensive categories.
But given the simple logic of what exactly took place during the 2019 season: record-setting home runs, a less traditional style of offense (three true outcomes) and batters just simply hitting the ball harder in general… perhaps it’s correct to assume that improving the Braves’ pitching would be a much more difficult task.
These days it seems everybody’s better at offense… so naturally it must be more difficult to succeed at pitching.
That seems to have been the case in 2019, as the majors experienced a .36 increase in ERA across the board (starters and relievers), as well as a .24 jump in home runs per nine innings.
Interestingly, all of this took place while pitchers across the league struck out .35 more batters per nine, while maintaining essentially the exact same walk rate:
2019 MLB PITCHER ENVIRONMENT
The league’s batting average-against and hard-hit rate understandably increased as well, though perhaps not as much as we may have thought (4 points of batting average and 2.7%).
Lastly, 2019’s major league ground ball rate also increased (by 2.6%), which is rather surprising, being that the new craze has been launch angles and home runs.
All of this of course has nothing to do with the grades of Atlanta Braves pitchers, but it does help to know in advance that pitching in 2019 was a bit tougher than a season ago, so just keep that in mind.
Similar to how I did the grades for the Braves offense, we’ll first look at how the team’s pitchers performed, both relative to 2018’s numbers and the rest of the majors this season. Remember, this is the entire pitching group… not just starters.