Atlanta Braves season reflects the things PECOTA predicted

Freddie Freeman is now a Gold Glove winner, too. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
Freddie Freeman is now a Gold Glove winner, too. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images) /
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Atlanta Braves
Atlanta Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman is returning to form after a slow start to the season. (Photo by Quinn Harris/Getty Images) /

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.

Freeman 50 83 136 219 80 50 runs 26
Ozuna 66 102 181 283 108 67 runs 77
d’Arnaud 75 79 121 200 83 47 runs 141
Swanson 28 27 79 106 50 35 runs 49

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.