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Braves Starting Pitching is a Disaster: Some Advanced Stats

Braves Starting Pitching is a Disaster: Some Advanced Stats

Here’s the problem I have with the team right now, and this will be mildly ranty and really stat-driven so just be prepared for that. I have had a problem with the way our starting pitching staff was designed from Day 1, and if you go back in time to when they first announced the rotation I did some bold predictions. One of those predictions (in fact the absolute first prediction) was that the starting rotation would be bad. I questioned everything except really Teheran, and even with Teheran I said that I expected a small fall-off

And so here we are in May, and I’ve had a month to watch this pitching staff. There’s only 6 months in the baseball season if you don’t count the playoffs (and let me tell you with this crew, we ain’t counting on October) so I believe 1/6th of a season is enough to start analyzing what we’ve seen.

I don’t like what I’ve seen at all with the pitching.

Now like I said before, I can’t say I’m shocked. I expected the pitching staff to suck, and I wrote that down in the predictions on both the starting and the reliever fronts. What I’m shocked by is that we are DFL (Dead Freaking Last) in the major leagues in ERA for our staff. The starters? 24th in the league. The relievers? 28th in the league. And why is is so bad? Who is the problem? Allow me to elaborate.

Our best starter by ERA right now is RA Dickey, and that’s misleading. He’s at 3.94, Garcia is at 3.99, Teheran is at 4.33, Folty is at 4.55, and Bartolo is at a whopping 6.27. Among qualified starters, our absolute BEST pitcher by ERA is going to rank 51st out of 100. That means every pitcher we’re tossing out there is in the bottom half of the league.

But wait! Stat guys always tell us that ERA doesn’t matter, that it’s actually FIP (or fielding independent pitching) that matters. That’s basically ERA adjusted for an average defense. OK, sure let’s look at the pitchers FIP. It actually gets worse. In that case, Julio is the best ranked Braves pitcher with a FIP of 4.31, and that’s 59th out of 100 in the league.

Julio isn’t pitching well. Nobody is. Why? A big issue is that the starters excepting Julio are all giving up well over a HR every 9 innings, which is a bad ratio is you want to keep scores down. At the absolute best if you’re giving up a homer every start, you’re giving up one run. And it can get worse. Folty as an example is giving up 1.52 HR/9, which ranks him 74th in the league out of 100.

Julio’s problem seems to be command. He’s given up the most walks on the team at 18, he has given up almost a hit an inning with 32/35.1 innings, and his batted ball numbers are awful. Guys are squaring him up well, and that leads to more hits and runs. Over 26% of Julio’s hit balls are line drives, which a BIGTIME problem for a pitcher. Right now that would put him 94th out of 100. That’s why he’s getting crushed. He’s struggling for command of the zone, and when he’s in the zone, hitters are teeing him up for hard hit balls. Compare to say a guy like Max Scherzer who only has 13% line drives in the top 5 of baseball, it’s no surprise that Max’s ERA is at 2.66 while Julio has ballooned to over 4.00.

Bartolo is basically done at this age in my mind. He’s too old to have strikeout stuff anymore, so he mostly relies on people getting out on balls in play. The problem is that if you look at his hard-hit balls, he’s giving up almost 40% hard contact (that’s 8th worst in the league.) When you’re getting blasted that hard, it’s tough for the defense to react, and that’s causing some issues in addition to his 22% line drive rate. It tells the tale of a man who like Julio is missing in the zone, and he’s paying the hard prices for it. And he’ll continue to pay them unless he can cut down on the hard hit balls.

Folty’s problem is homers and run support. He’s gotten exactly 5 runs scored for him in every game he’s pitched, meaning he’s always pitching from behind. That’s never good for the psyche. But he’s got some great strikeout stuff with 8.19 K/9, and only 2.45 K/BB ratio. Near 2.5 to 1, is really really good. So he’s got the command of the zone, and he’s punching people out. Here’s the problem, he’s given up 5 homers, and of those homers 4 of them came in his last 2 starts, and 3 of the 4 were multi-run homers. You can survive solo shots, but if you’re giving up 2 and 3 runs shots en masse? Big problem. However, Folty is still one of my smallest concerns because he’s got the strikeout stuff to get out of trouble, and he’s not really giving up a ton of big-time contact around the yard. With the exception of last night, he’s been pretty good and just needs some run support to take the load off his mind.

Garcia and Dickey share the same problem, and it’s that they can get any swings and misses. For Dickey, that’s normal because knuckleballers don’t strike people out. For Garcia? That’s a bigger issue. With K/9 rates in the 5.00s? You better not be giving up a ton of big contact. What the FIP stats and BABIP stats would tell you about Garcia and Dickey is that you should be a lot more worried about them than what we’ve seen. If anything they’ve been getting lucky not to give up more runs. What do I mean by that? The average BABIP (Batting Average on Balls in Play) is around .300 for hitters. Both Garcia and Dickey are in the .240s right now. That’s extremely low to the point where they are in the top 20 in the league for lowest average. The issue? That’s unsustainable unless you’re a guy like Max Scherzer or Clayton Kershaw. Garcia and Dickey are neither. I’d expect their ERAs to start trending up in the future as their luck runs out, not down.

So in a nutshell, we have the worst pitching staff in baseball, and I don’t really think it’s fixable for about 60% of it or worse. And yet, I look down at the minors and think to myself, Wow, Kolby Allard has a 1.36 ERA in AA. Wow, Sean Newcomb has a 3.08 ERA at AAA. Wow, Lucas Sims has a 2.83 ERA at AAA. And yet we’re still throwing these veterans at the starting rotation for reasons I don’t understand.

Bartolo’s value is going to tank if you don’t do something soon. The second he starts to have a remotely good streak (if ever again), Coppy needs to unload him before his value goes to zero. I’d say the same thing with Garcia and Dickey before people figure out they have been getting lucky on borrowed time for about a month. We need to get the old guard out of here and get the new guard in here by the All-Star break.

I’m okay with losing if I’m seeing young talent develop. I’m not okay getting kicked around if we’re running a bunch of old farts out there with one year deals.

GO BRAVES!

Full article @ Braves Starting Pitching is a Disaster: Some Advanced Stats

Source: Braves By The Numbers by Ben the CPA


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Freddie Freeman is scorching hot

Freddie Freeman is scorching hot

I don’t mean hot as in looks, although I’m sure plenty of the Braves Country ladies would have something to say about that. What I do mean is that Freddie Freeman is playing some of the best baseball he’s played in his career, and he’s off to one of the hottest starts he’s ever had. How good is Freddie right now through 25 games?

.378 Batting Average
.491 On-Base Percentage
.811 Slugging
10 Homers
7 Doubles
1 Triple
4 Stolen Bases

Freddie is 2nd in Slugging in the NL, and he’s number one overall in WAR for the early season. He’s easily the best player in the league through April, and the fact that Ryan Zimmerman won it over him is only because he is #1 in slugging and the Nats are the best team in the NL right now.

But think about this, in June of 2016 people were turning on Freddie Freeman. It sounds ridiculous now, but remember the scenario. Let’s jump in the wayback machine and teleport ourselves to June 9th, 2016. The Braves are 17-42 in the standings. It’s the worst start most Braves fans that were born in the 80s and 90s have every really witnessed. Freddie is batting with a smooth .250/.345/.431 slash line. He’s only got 9 homers in 58 games, he’s striking out at an alarming rate, and this team can’t figure out how to score. Everyone looks lost, and Freddie just doesn’t look right out there at the plate, even if the numbers aren’t that bad.

Cue this article I wrote back then: http://www.bravesbythenumbers.com/2016/06/is-freddie-freeman-worth-20m-year.html

Back then I compared Freddie’s value to other hitters, and his total contract value against his WAR for his career. Then I looked to see what he would need to produce in WAR today to get to his anticipated contract values. The answer is about 3.5 WAR a season. Through a month this season, Freddie is already at 2.2 WAR. That’s insane. He could basically coast to an average ho-hum season for the rest of the year, and he’d still be well worth the $20.5M he’s making this year for the Braves, and I’m guessing he’ll do better than that.

It’s funny how much difference a small change can make. Supposedly Freddie changed his approach in batting practice to try and hit line drives at the short stop every time he was hitting. That apparently keeps his hands inside and allows him to put the bat on the ball better. Is that all there is to it? I certainly believe it’s part of the solution, but almost no hitter is going to tell the media EXACTLY what’s working, because that’s going to tell pitchers how to get you out. I mean hell, he could be completely making up the shortstop thing just to keep us off his trail. He’s sneaky like that.

Anyway, it’s great to see Freddie performing because he’s the highest paid player on the team, and it’s even better to see him starting to actually take more of a “face-time” role. I think as he ages, he’ll start to think of his role more like Chipper did. Initially Chipper was reluctant to take over as a leader and even a bit abrasive with the media and fans. As Chipper aged, he softened towards everybody and realized that being a jackass doesn’t help anything. Maybe Freddie is starting to move towards that goal already, which would be a great sign for this clubhouse winning in the near future.

GO BRAVES!

Full article @ Freddie Freeman is scorching hot

Source: Braves By The Numbers by Ben the CPA


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Braves finally win, Beat the Mets!

Braves finally win, Beat the Mets!

Wow so the long Braves national nightmare is over now that they actually won two games in a row. That’s quite the turnaround from losing 6 straight over the last week before they arrived in New York to play the hapless Mets. How bad are the Mets? Well, they’ve lost 6 in a row, they are 1-9 in their last 10 games, and they are now (thanks to the Braves kicking their behinds) dead last in the NL East. Weren’t the Mets supposed to contend for a playoff spot? Welp, too bad because they are 7.5 back of the Nationals, and they play them this weekend. Honestly, the Mets could be double digits back in the division by the end of April. Yikes. Not that I take pleasure in the Mets misfortunes…

HAHAHA, no I totally do take pleasure in their misfortunes, that was a bald-faced lie.

The Braves are 8-12, so it’s not like we’re a good team either. We’re only 4-6 in the last 10, but we’re on a two game winning streak heading into a series with Milwaukee. Downside to that series is that the Brewers are the 2nd hottest team in the NL with a 3 game winning streak and a 12-11 record. However, I like our chances against the Brewers and here’s why. The Braves are going to see Chase Anderson, Jimmy Nelson, and Matt Garza as starters. The Braves lineup is hitting OPSs of 1.005, .884, and .620 respectively against those pitchers. I would expect to be very offensively oriented in the first two games, and when the Braves see Garza he’ll be going against Folty who has pitched really well. If the Braves can scrape a couple of runs, I don’t see why they can’t win this series.

The do need to improve a few things of course. First the grounder/fly ball ratio for the Braves is 1.09 which is worst in the majors. Grounders never ever leave the park, and usually aren’t a sign of a good AB, so you’ll usually find a really high correlation between teams that hit a ton of ground balls, and teams that don’t win a ton of games.

Here’s the 2016 top grounder teams: Miami, Arizona, Atlanta, Philadelphia, and Milwaukee.

Here’s their 2016 win totals: 79, 69, 68, 71, 73. Not a single team went over .500 that topped that list, and not a single team made the playoffs. In fact, in 2016 the Dodgers hit the 9th most grounders and made the playoffs. Everybody 8th or higher was out. And the reason the Dodgers made the playoffs wasn’t their offense, they were 14th in the league in runs scored. So you can see how hitting into a ton of grounders long term really kills your offense and your playoff chances.

The other thing the Braves need to improve as a team? They have absolutely no pinch hitting. At some point, GM Coppy is going to have to bring up some young talent to at least try to get a pinch hit, because the Braves are hitting 3/30, which is a .100 average, with only 2 RBIs. Basically the bench is giving you nothing, which is really terrifying because if a regular starter has to sit, you don’t really have anybody to drop into a slot. And if you need a key PH with the pitcher coming up, which happens a TON in the NL, you have no good options. I’d like to see another journeyman guy from the minors get a shot in that role rather than Emilio Bonafacio suck on a daily basis.

So that’s that. I’ll be at a wedding this weekend at the lake, but I’ll try to do another Twitter Q&A on Periscope, so if you want to send me your questions for that on Saturday, feel free! Have a great weekend!

GO BRAVES!

Full article @ Braves finally win, Beat the Mets!

Source: Braves By The Numbers by Ben the CPA


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5 minutes of Braves Q&A Week Three

5 minutes of Braves Q&A Week Three

I am trying out a 5 minute Q&A sessions on Twitter so you can follow the link here for the video. Today’s questions were on The Prospect Plans and Freddie Freemans lack of RBIs when he hits homers.

Check out @BentheCPA’s Tweet: https://twitter.com/BentheCPA/status/855782766713217024?s=01

Full article @ 5 minutes of Braves Q&A Week Three

Source: Braves By The Numbers by Ben the CPA


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Why Dansby Swanson should be batting 8th

Why Dansby Swanson should be batting 8th

Sorry for the delay everyone, I was in Washington DC having fun visiting my girlfriend’s family for the first time. And apparently I missed quite the home winning streak. That is until the Nationals came to town and continued their dominance over the Braves. Yeesh. Let’s go over what I haven’t covered so far.

The Braves had a 2-gamer with a Marlins that they split 1-1, then they came home to their shiny new ballpark and swept the San Diego Padres in a 4-game sweep. They followed that up recently with a 2-loss section against the Nats, the final game still outstanding today. I don’t hold high hopes for that one either way. They are 6-8 in the W/L column as of today.

Freddie Freeman is having a career start to the season, batting .440 with .920 slugging and a 1.453 OPS. He’s leading MLB in average, and he’s tied for 4th in home runs. And yet, with 6 homers to his name in this short season he has exactly 8 RBIs, because nobody in front of him can get on base consistently. Why is that?

Because the top of the order has major issues. Freddie is batting 3rd behind Ender Inciarte and Dansby Swanson. Brian Snitker is always going to be slow to make changes I believe, because he’s an old-school guy like Bobby Cox who wants his players to play through any challenges rather than move them around. I think that mentality needs to go the way of the dodo. In my mind, you look at the season in 16 game chunks. I’m more than willing to give a player 10% of the season to figure something out (that’s usually around 2.5 weeks). Then, I’d make a change for the next 10% to see how he responds. It’s a marathon of a season, so you don’t want to judge a guy on small samples, but moving people around in the order based on production isn’t as big of a deal as people make it out to be. And Dansby Swanson has FAR from earned the #2 spot as a birthright when he’s still a rookie.

Dansby is currently hitting .131/.159/.197 and his OPS is .355, basically in that small sample he should be batting #8 in the lineup, and not #2. I have no idea why this is taking so long for Snitker to make a change, but eventually he’ll have to because Matt Kemp will come back. Inciarte has started to heat up a bit from his bad start, so I have no problem leaving him in the leadoff spot. He’s fast, he’s good at bunting and making contact, and he’s showed some pop with 4 homers already. But I think Brandon Phillips as the veteran is the obvious #2 hitter on the team, not Dansby Swanson. I’d follow him with Freddie, and then Kemp in the cleanup slot when he’s back. Here’s my ideal lineup right now.

Ender Inciarte – CF
Brandon Phillips – 2B
Freddie Freeman – 1B
Matt Kemp – LF
Nick Markakis – RF
Tyler Flowers – C
Chase d’Arnaud – 3B
Dansby Swanson – SS
Pitcher

Why Chase at third over Adonis Garcia? I don’t think Adonis has earned the right to play yet. He’s hitting .170 with a .460 OPS and he’s started every game. I think it’s time to shake that up, because he’s not some gold glover 3B we’re invested in. He’s holding a spot while we’re waiting on somebody better. Right now Chase has a .375 average and he’s the hotter hand.

Also that lineup balances out your L/R hitters so that you don’t have any of your top 5 hitters in a row for reliever easy innings. I think it’s logically what Snitker should do, so I’m hoping he comes to that same conclusion if Dansby can’t snap out of this funk by the end of the week.

GO BRAVES!



Full article @ Why Dansby Swanson should be batting 8th

Source: Braves By The Numbers by Ben the CPA


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Atlanta Braves Week One Recap

Atlanta Braves Week One Recap

 

To avoid burnout this year, I’m going to be focusing on the Braves week by week rather than game by game. Why? Because I think this is still a rebuild period so isolating one game at a time will be more frustrating than looking at the positives and negatives of the whole week.

Unfortunately in Week One, the Braves had a record of 1-5 and blew several leads to get there. I can’t say I’m upset with the team in general, I’m upset with a lot of different things that went wrong in different ways to lose all those games. Let’s take a look at the Good, Bad, and Ugly of Week One.

THE GOOD:

  •  Starting pitching was top 10 in the league. The starters had a combined 2.64 ERA in 6 games across 34.1 innings. Frankly, that’s excellent and I can’t really demand any more from the starters to help us win games. Except they go exactly zero wins thanks to the rest of the team.
  • Freddie Freeman is raking. Freddie has a 1.085 OPS and he hit 2 homers in the same game this afternoon. The crazy thing is that in the one game the Braves actually won, Freddie went 0-5 with a walk.
  • Nick Markakis is also raking. Nicky Kakes is hitting with a .900+ OPS, two doubles, and a triple. The only thing that’s keeping him from the stratosphere is his 9 Ks in one week.

THE BAD:

  •  The Braves are 10/53 with runners in scoring position. That’s a .189 average when a runner is at least on second base or better, and that’s around 25th in the majors. It’s not a surprise when you’re blowing that many chances
  • The Braves have hit into 10 double plays in one week. That’s top 3 in the majors in most double plays. That could be ugly, but here’s the thing, you have to get a bunch of runners on base in order to hit into double plays. But the Braves did hit into 145 of them last year, which was #3 in the MLB. And they are on pace to do that again.

THE UGLY:

  • The Braves bullpen has a 5.97 ERA through the week. That’s bottom 10 in the majors and it’s the even worse combined with the next ugly stat.
  • The Braves have committed 7 errors in 6 games. That may be dead last in the majors when the stats all get posted tomorrow, but it’s certainly in the bottom two teams if not dead last. What makes it worse is that the errors directly lead to SIX unearned runs. That’s an unearned run a game, and that’s unacceptable.
  • Brian Snitker is making awful moves. I can forgive a lot of things from a manager, but there’s a few things that get my riled up more than anything. One of them is pulling a pitcher who is obviously dealing, and he’s under 90 pitches, for a bullpen we all know is questionable. The entire reason the Braves lost the Sunday game against the Pirates is because Snitker yanked Julio Teheran with 87 pitches going into the 8th inning, the pen gave away a 2 run lead, and then eventually lost the game. The pen sucks. Let the starters go deep where we can.

So Week One is pretty much a total bust. Luckily there’s like 30 more of these. OK not really but it’s dang close because baseball is a marathon, not a sprint. So I’m not going to go bat-blank-crazy over a week, but I’d like to hope we can actually field the ball, catch the ball, and throw the ball next week. Also, for heaven’s sake stay out the bullpen or I’m going to start calling it the pigpen.

GO BRAVES!

Full article @ Atlanta Braves Week One Recap

Source: Braves By The Numbers by Ben the CPA

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Braves Opening Day against the Mets

Braves Opening Day against the Mets

Julio Teheran probably checked the calendar to make sure this was a new year, because that game yesterday probably didn’t feel like it. In 2016, Julio barely got any support as he had one of his career best years, but lost game after game to no-decisions due to no offense. Considering the Braves scored a grand total of nothing in game one, I think he’s scratching his head yet again this morning.

Three things went really wrong in that game, and those three things added up to one big 6-0 loss to the Mets. Let’s recap those 3 things in order of least important to most important.

  1. Tyler Flowers didn’t get the tag down on a lazer throw to the plate by Ender Inciarte that would have kept the game tied at 0-0. The reason he didn’t get the tag down in time is because he was incorrectly positioned behind the plate instead of in front of it.
  2. The bullpen imploded for 6 runs. In a move that you better get used to as a Braves fan (because I warned you that we haven’t solved the issue in my Bold Predictions) Krol, Roe, and EOF all got lit up for 6 earned runs in a single inning, with 4 walks and a wild pitch. They simply couldn’t command the ball at all, and that’s not great for relievers. You really only have one job as a reliever, and that’s throw enough strikes to either get some timely K’s or use your defense to get outs behind you. Nothing will ruin a game faster than late inning reliever walks. Case in point.
  3. Matt Kemp was a trainwreck. It’s one game so I’m not going to jump on Kemp too hard, but he’s absolutely the reason the Braves didn’t score in this game, and it’s likely the reason that we had to yank Teheran early for the pen. TWICE, Kemp had a runner on third with one out and couldn’t even put the ball in play. You can’t have strikeouts in those scenarios in a tie game and expect to win. That’s just giving runs away. And we gave away at least a 2-0 lead on the Mets that would have changed the complexion of the game.

So that’s the end result of game one. Like I said, don’t panic over one game, other than the fact the bullpen is still really bad and we’re going to need starters to go at least into the 7th inning to have much of a chance. If we’re putting in the pen starting in the 6th inning? You can likely turn off the game unless we have a 6 run lead. And maybe not even then. They need to get much better much quicker, or we need to get Coppy to fix the issue with some younger talent by May.

GO BRAVES!

Full article @ Braves Opening Day against the Mets

Source: Braves By The Numbers by Ben the CPA


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The Braves Delta SKY360 Club

The Braves Delta SKY360 Club

Recently I had the chance to join the Braves for a night of food and frivolity at their new Delta SKY360 club which is located underneath the seats behind home plate. The club is about 15,000 square feet of space, lined with golden gloves and silver sluggers of Braves players from over the years, and centered with 2 bar stations and a slew of food stations at the far end. It looked like it could easily seat 200 people with little issue, and probably hold up to 500 in a pinch with standing room.

You enter the club through an elevator located on the third base entrance of the stadium, and you descend to a lower level walk around a concourse. When you follow this tunnel, you take a left into the club proper, and you’re immediately greeted with the Silver Sluggers lining the wall as you turn. Here’s a picture of the bar as you enter into the club, it’s a full wraparound situation with 4 bartenders working, along with people helping to order drinks for the tables. If you see people blurred it was because they were running that fast to get their drinks!

As you look at the far end of the hall, you see the buffet setup. The first station is a Chef’s Island where they are preparing handcrafted dishes like Kobe Beef Sliders, Shrimp and Grits, Pork Belly Tacos, and Chicken Caesar mini salads. I took a quick picture of the station where they had the Shrimp and Grits cooking in the back pans.

Next up, you have the cold foods buffet, where you could get items like hummus, grilled veggies, rolls, crackers, cheeses, cold cuts, various sausages, three different types of salads, and other assorted dressings and goodies. I took a long shot of that table here.

What really struck me with the food was the quality. It not only tasted good, but the professional layout of the different items had me thinking of the offerings from a four-star restaurant rather than the food I’d get at a ballpark. This has it’s obvious pros and cons, as we come to the ballpark to watch a game, but with all the amenities you might find yourself more interested in the food and drink than sitting and watching the game. Decisions, decisions. It’s a tough life. Here’s the slider trays that I tried and the dessert buffet below.

All that being said, we’re not just here for the club, we’re here for a game, and as you walk outside to the seats you’re immediately greeted by the ushers who are happy to point you to your section. I stood in the proximity of our seats to give you a shot of what the field looks like, and you can get a sense of the right field Chophouse in the background. The actual view of the park will seem very familiar to all fans when they see it. The differences will be apparent when you walk around. The seats are nicer, padded, and closer to the action in the Delta Club area. There are giant fans in the concourses to provide a breeze in the summer. The Chophouse now has several rails for standing rather than one giant overlooking rail from the top. The restaurants and areas are upgraded and serving top end fare. It’s all one big attempt to improve the fan experience from top to bottom, while leaving the actual field and views very familiar.

All in all, I really enjoyed my trip to see the Delta SKY360 Club, and I’m excited about seeing in more in the future. Yes, it’s for a limited group of fans (what I would really call SunTrust Club 2.0), but they’ve improved more than just that area. You can get a sense that the Braves organization really wanted to make this ballpark for the fans, so they’d have something to eat, drink, and do before every game. They wanted to have a surrounding battery of restaurants, bars, apartments, and shops so that fans wouldn’t feel like they had to just show up at 7PM and leave at 10PM. We all know the downsides that the area around Turner Field had, and this ballpark is a direct answer to those concerns whether you were in favor of the move or not.

I’ve personally been unabashed in my support of the move. The people who are paying the most money in season tickets were VERY in favor of the move. And as we know with anything, the businesses will follow the money. That being said, I think this ballpark will have something for the fan spending $20 all the way to the fan spending $300 a ticket. I think it will also be a place where you can actually feel comfortable walking around the park, visiting the surrounding merchants, and spending a leisurely Saturday tailgating with friends.

Plus it will be a great day when the product on the field starts to match the quality of the stadium!

GO BRAVES!

Full article @ The Braves Delta SKY360 Club

Source: Braves By The Numbers by Ben the CPA


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Braves Bold Predictions 2017

Braves Bold Predictions 2017

Hey we’re starting baseball in exactly one week! Who is excited?! <Raises hand like that nerdy kid you probably hated in middle school> That’s right, we’re ready to watch 162 games of (hopefully, mercifully decent) baseball, and before we do that I get to make some bold predictions about the season. Let’s find out how wrong I’ll be there year! Can anything top me picking a guy to lead the team in average who was then subsequently kicked off the team for domestic violence? WE’LL SEE!

  1. The starting rotation will be bottom 10 in ERA in the majors – I don’t like much about our rotation this year beyond Folty and Teheran. I’m also sort of waiting for Teheran to come back to reality after last year. Julio had the best year of his career in 2016, and I think it would be hard to repeat that performance mentally and physically in 2017. Folty is still learning the ropes but he’s yet to post a MLB ERA under 4.00 for a season. Garcia has only had, from what I can tell, one stellar year in his entire career, and that was 2015. RA Dickey is always a bad knuckler from getting shelled, and Bartolo is (let’s face it) fat and old (although entertaining).
  2. Dansby Swanson wins Rookie of the Year – Dansby kept his rookie status heading into 2017 which means he’ll be in the prime slot for ROY honors if he plays well. I don’t think the competition will be very stiff, but it will likely come from the Cardinals, Nationals, and Pirates with their prospects if it does. However, Dansby was a .302/.361/.442 guy last year in 38 games, so if he’s on point with those numbers in 2017 he’s a shoe in to win it.
  3. Freddie Freeman hits 40+ homers – Freddie was banging the ball last season, he’s had a great spring seeing the ball, and everyone is marveling at how consistent he is at the plate. I really like his odds to kill the ball in the new park. He hit 34 last year, and I think he’ll be in the home run race this season with over 40.
  4. The Offense will be top 10 in runs scored – At the end of 2016, the Braves finished 4th in runs in September, and 10th in runs in August. They really turned things around offensively, and if anything I think they are better prepared to score in 2017. Matt Kemp will be around full-time, Ender Inciarte now has his deal to play in the outfield long term, Nick Markakis is still consistent, Freeman is back to full strength, Adonis will be at third, Dansby will get starting time, Brandon Phillips is now the second baseman, and they added Kurt Suzuki to catch. It all adds up to more runs on paper. Now we just need them in the ballpark.
  5. The bullpen will be a train wreck we still haven’t fixed – My fear is that no lead will be safe with the Braves in 2017. I don’t really see many options beyond Vizzy, Johnson, and Krol. Even Johnson and Krol had some uh-ohs in 2016. Behind that is the likes of Paco Rodriguez, Mauricio Cabrera, and Jose Ramirez. Two of them have less than 50 innings in the majors. Rodriguez has barely 80 innings. That’s not a ton of experience to hang your hat on with the pen.
  6. Somebody will pitch a no-hitter in SunTrust Park – I don’t know if it will be for us or against us, but I have a feeling that no-no is getting out of the way earlier in the new digs.
  7. Brian Snitker will get another contract extension mid-year – The Braves won’t want this to linger, and I think they like having Snit in the dugout. I suspect the Braves will be cruising around .500 and fairly watchable all year which is really all the front office wants in this transitional period. They may say they want to make the playoffs, but they aren’t stupid enough to actually believe it with this pitching staff.
  8. Parking around the stadium will be fine by July – Everyone is panicking but it’s just a matter of finding your niche around the new lots. Once people figure out where to go, and that the battery is actually open for dinner before games with stuff to do, I get the feeling you won’t have the 7PM traffic crush every day. People will start showing up at 5PM and hitting up Antico on the way to the stadium.
  9. The Braves will change regular closers at least twice – I don’t think Vizzy holds the job all year long. Something just tells me with this bullpen we’re going to see a big shakeup, and it might by Vizzy, Johnson, and somebody else as the Braves try to solve the late-game issues and closer problems. I would like to hope I’m wrong, but I don’t really love what I’m seeing on the pitching staff at all.

And finally #10 is the record. I think the Braves go 76-86. I think they’ll have games where they look awesome offensively and win 8-4. Then they’ll have a night where they struggle and the rotation implodes early for a 7-2 loss. It’s going to be a rollercoaster with more downs than ups as they continue to look to get younger arms experience on the staff. After all, this is still part of the rebuild. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

GO BRAVES!

Full article @ Braves Bold Predictions 2017

Source: Braves By The Numbers by Ben the CPA


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The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly of Braves Spring Training

The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly of Braves Spring Training

I like doing Good, Bad, and Ugly articles because the reader response is typically higher, and most of you enjoy listing things and then arguing about the lists. So in that vein, here’s the items I’ve deemed Good, Bad, and Ugly about Spring Training so far for the Atlanta Braves roster.

THE GOOD:

  1. Freddie Freeman is raking – In 28 ABs, Freddie is hitting .464 with an OPS of over 1.000
  2. Kurt Suzuki is your catcher – Kurt is hitting .391 in 23 ABs, and playing well enough that the Braves decided to send Anthony Recker down to AAA. It looks like the catching slot is settled for the beginning of the season.
  3. Dansby Swanson looks great – Dansby always looks great with the flowing hair, but an OPS of .940 in spring training doesn’t hurt, and he’s poised to be the SS of the future.
  4. Adonis Garcia is your third baseman – He’s hitting well, he has the experience there, and it seems like the Braves are comfortable with him filling that position in the short term as prospects develop.
  5. Brandon Phillips is healthy – Brandon’s old, but he’s hitting almost .300 and he seems to have good energy with the club. That’s what we need out of our new full time second baseman.
  6. Mike Foltynewicz looks ready – Folty has pitched very well in and out of trouble this spring, and it looks like he’s prepared to take over a starting rotation slot, while putting to bed all questions of whether he belongs there as a regular starter.

THE BAD:

  1. Matt Kemp has looked blah – Kemp showed up with a better weight, but his hitting in Spring Training has been very average. He’s a power hitter, but hasn’t really shown signs of power yet. That’s fine in the short term, but we’d like him to turn it on quickly come opening day.
  2. WBC interrupted training for a few guys – Whether it’s good or bad to see some “live bullets” in the WBC, I don’t know. But I do know it cut down on some training ABs for guys like Ender Inciarte, so you hope that the WBC prepped them just as well.
  3. Jace Peterson had 3 errors in training – For a guy who doesn’t hit amazingly well, he can’t suddenly lose the ability with the glove. He’s a utility player now since Brandon Phillips will likely take over at 2B full time. 

THE UGLY:

  1. Due to injuries, Bonifacio will make this team – Emilio Bonifacio in his entire career with the Braves hit .212 with a .535 OPS. He sucks. I have no idea why we can’t find anyone better, but we can’t so he’s going to make the team.
  2. Chase D’Arnaud is terrible and should get cut – Chase was a stopgap guy in 2016, but he’s hitting .111 in training and I don’t see why they should waste a roster spot on him in 2017. He can go work on his music.
  3. The bullpen is still a problem – John Danks was supposed to be an option out of the pen, but he’s been released after he sucked. Blaine Boyer has been awful with an ERA over 10, Jose Ramirez has an ERA over 6.00 and hasn’t looked great allowing 3 homers in 8 innings, Ian Krol looks shakey, and the rest of the guys barely have enough innings to make judgements. Luckily O’Flaherty looks decent, Vizzy can still close, and Jim Johnson looks great. But remember last season’s bullpen woes had these guys included. We were hoping for upgrades and I’m not seeing a ton.
  4. The rotation is old – Bartolo and Dickey may or may not pan out, but they are really old guys who we shouldn’t expect better than 50/50 shot at winning each night. Folty and Teheran will lead the way as the young guns, with 30 year old Garcia getting regular starts in the middle. It’s not a bad rotation, it’s just an old rotation with a lot of downside if your elders don’t perform.

So there you have it. I think the good outweighs the bad right now, but we have to hope for bigger and better things as the new stadium digs open.

GO BRAVES!

Full article @ The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly of Braves Spring Training

Source: Braves By The Numbers by Ben the CPA


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