What did we miss?
Atlanta Braves fans spent the 2020 tournament-like season focused on which starting pitcher would get injured or forget how to pitch next and were suitably thrilled as the lineup pulled wins out of their . . . hat, night after night, with a bullpen that did little wrong in the late innings.
All of those things happened because a group of players had a 60-game sprint that exceeded anything their career-best, and they did it at the same time with a DH in the lineup.
Freddie Freeman won the NL MVP because he pushed his contact rate to a career-high 81.9% while raising his line-drive and fly-ball rates, his groundball rate, and popup rates down. For Ozuna, d’Arnaud, and Swanson, the contact rate didn’t change, but their BAbip made a big move.
All statistics from Fangraphs player pages using their table summing function.
All of these players were going to come back to the pack – that’s what we called regression before sabermetric speak – some more than others.
"Travis d’Arnaud was a revelation last season, but, well, *gestures to the rest of d’Arnaud’s career.* – Ben Carsley Baseball Prospectus (subscription required)."
No one saw as much regression as we’ve seen from Ozuna so far, and projections said that we’d see a player closer to the 2019 version of Albies than the 2020 model, and that hasn’t happened.
While questions remain about Swanson’s future – is he Addison Russell or Brandon Crawford? – and no one was sure about Austin Riley or Cristian Pache, the lineup’s current swings from ineptitude to dynamic run-scoring weren’t a high percentage outcome.