Losing is frustrating enough, but the way the Atlanta Braves are losing in 2021 is enough to drive even the most casual baseball fan insane.
That’s actually not the most in all of Major League Baseball as their division rival New York Mets have the most one-run losses this year with 31.
But they also have 28 one-run wins whereas the Braves only have 23.
Going 23-28 in one-run games is certainly not great and is a big reason why this Braves team hasn’t already run away with the division.
Fifty-one games decided by a single run is also a lot. The Braves have the second-most such games behind the Mets who have fifty-nine. Most teams have around 40.
The Braves have spread it out pretty well, too, with about five one-run losses a month.
That doesn’t include the delayed Padres game where the Braves trailed by one run late in the game.
Braves: What do these close games mean?
I think playing a lot of close games like this can tell you a lot about a team.
First, I think it says the Braves are playing a lot of good teams that are similarly talented. You look at all the one-run games the Phillies and Mets have played and it’s pretty obvious all three of these teams are pretty evenly matched, which will result in close games.
Second, the offense doesn’t put up enough big numbers on a nightly basis. Yes, they’re top 10 in the league in runs scored, but we know a lot of those runs come in a handful of blowout wins.
The fact is, a lot of nights the Braves are losing 3-2 or 4-3 because the offense just can’t break through with that big inning often enough.
Third, the bullpen is unable to hold on to close leads. This one has been pretty obvious all year, but if the Braves go into the last three innings with just a one-run lead, it’s not likely the bullpen will pitch three scoreless innings.
And last, this team just doesn’t have that clutch factor this year. For whatever reason, again, they just aren’t getting those big hits late in games we’ve come accustomed to seeing them get the last three years.
Just look at the last two games against the Rockies.
On Tuesday, you had Jorge Soler up with two on and two out and he couldn’t come through.
Last night (Wednesday), they walked Soler in the ninth in a tie game and pitched to Freddie Freeman who hit it hard, but it didn’t find any grass. And then in the 10th, you had Dansby Swanson up — who has been Mr. Clutch in his career — and he wasn’t able to get a big hit to keep the game alive.
There’s been something off about this team all year. They just don’t have that magic late in games like we’re used to and that’s led to a lot of these frustratingly close losses.