Atlanta Braves: There Are Signs Of Hope
By Sam Peebles
There is no denying that the Atlanta Braves are struggling. There are many signs that point to underperformance, this is true. Is it a World Series hangover, or just simply pure bad luck?
It is easy to make excuses for a defending World Series champion team when their record is far from optimal with 10% of the season over. It is also easy to get frustrated when looking at the on field results.
The key, is that there is a bit of a hybrid of underperformance, mixed with some awful luck.
While there is some serious red flags like Dansby Swanson and Adam Duvall combining for 48 strikeouts at the time of the writing, there are some reasons to see some serious progression as well.
The Atlanta Braves should improve at base running soon
Currently, the Atlanta Braves are 27th in MLB with -4.8, BsR which is the all-encompassing stat used in Fangraphs’ Wins Above Replacement. It has been pretty evident by just watching that they were not doing well, but this is terrible.
In 2021 they were 12th in MLB with 5.4. While there has been some turnover on offense, this is a massive shift in base running. There is no guarantee that this could turn around, but it is a good sign that the Braves are capable of at least doing better.
2022 has been without Ronald Acuña Jr. who is one of the better base runners in MLB, even without counting steals. So far in his career, Acuña has been responsible for 16.8 BsR, with 3.8 coming in only 82 games last season.
While Acuña is only one player, the Atlanta Braves are about to get a huge boost in the base running department.
The Atlanta Braves have been unlucky in the Batting Average of Balls in Play (BABIP) department
The average BABIP is typically around .300, and it currently sits at .285 this season. This is not an end all be all statistic by any means, but it can show if there is at least some bad or good luck involved.
The Atlanta Braves as a whole currently sit 18th in MLB showing that they have had some bad luck, and are due some progression.
There are some players like Dansby Swanson who cannot claim his underperformance is due to an unlucky BABIP with his BABIP actually showing he has been more lucky than unlucky with a .313.
However, there are a few players that have been extremely unlucky:
· Alex Dickerson – 0.059 BABIP
· Eddie Rosario – 0.088 BABIP
· Manny Piña – 0.143 BABIP
· Guillermo Heredia – 0.182 BABIP
· Ozzie Albies – 0.217 BABIP
· Marcel Ozuna 0.269 BABIP
Rosario is going to be out due to surgery to his eye, but based on these BABIP numbers there is hope that the rest of these bats could progress quite a bit.
Members of the Atlanta Braves rotation have been pitching better than their surface numbers
It is true that on field surface numbers are ultimately what matter at the end of the day. A pitcher’s ERA is the true amount of earned runs per 9 innings that were given up while he was pitching.
However, there are a lot a variables that can change this ERA in the future. Defense, luck via BABIP, etc. So, we can look at a pitcher’s expectancy stats (peripherals) to help predict what their future stats may look like.
Ian Anderson, outperformed his peripherals last season. Based on how he was pitching, his expected ERA and other similar stats were worse than his on field results, suggesting that he was due to regress.
In 2021, his ERA was 3.48, but his expected ERA (xERA) was 4.32.
This season, his ERA currently sits at 5.40, but his xERA is 3.42. This is largely due to almost all of his peripherals taking huge steps forward so far this year.
Ian Anderson is not the only Brave with peripherals that show his xERA is much better than his on field results:
· Max Fried – ERA 3.50, xERA 2.90
· Collin McHugh – ERA 7.50, xERA 2.43
· A.J. Minter – ERA 4.05, xERA 1.79
· Kenley Jansen – ERA 4.50, xERA 1.70
While there have definitely been some underperformers like Charlie Morton with an xERA of 5.96 and Huascar Ynoa (now optioned to AAA) with an xERA of 10.31, we can see that there is hope that some of these pitchers should soon progress with better on field numbers than what we have seen thus far.
Nothing is guaranteed in baseball, and there is definitely reason to be frustrated with what seems to be a World Series hangover, but there is reason to believe that the Atlanta Braves do have a legitimate chance to turn things around.