Last year the Braves were a bit of an offensive Juggernaut. Adjusting for park, the Braves had the third best offense in the bigs -- and, don't forget, that includes 14 American League teams too, where there is the added benefit of the DH. Only the Yankees and Indians had more pop with the timber than the Braves did.
By my calculations the Braves are offensively neutral (just about) from last year. If Thorman and Wilson are reasonably effective then it should make up for the majority of the loss of LaRoche. Add in the offensive gain from Johnson at second and we're about even.
Anyway, enough prognostication ... what about the first couple of series? How did the Braves' bats hold up (I'll give a grade between A and D for the six hitters with more than 20 at-bats)?
- Kelly Johnson (C-): A batting average of .150 doesn't sound great but he has ripsnorted 2 HR out of the yard, both absolutely critical.† KJ needs to up his game significantly -- the good news is that we are only six games in. By the end of the month KJ's average needs to be .250 MINIMUM.
- Edgar Renteria (A-): Edgar loves April in Atlanta. Last year he got off to a red hot start and this year has, so far, been no different. He's slugging .583 (including 2 HR) and making good contact. Given the way Marte has been playing it looks as though the Braves will come out at worst even in the deal.
- Chipper Jones (C): It has been a slow start for Larry, as Mets fans like to call him, but I wouldn't be too concerned. Chipper will light it up at some point this month and when he does he'll only propel the Braves upward.
- Andruw Jones (D): Goodness gracious! Who'd have thought that the Braves would have a 5-1 record and the Jones boys would be playing like little leaguers. Andruw is batting .130 and slugging .217 ... perhaps JS should try to sign him on the cheap while he is in this slump. Andruw can be streaky so he'll turn it around soon enough -- against the Nats I suspect
- Brian McCann (A+): McCann is quickly becoming the talisman of this team -- with a six year deal fresh under his belt, McCann is the team leader of the future. His batting so far this year has been nothing short of mesmerizing as an OPS of 1.14 attests. He is the real deal.
- Jeff Francoeur (B-): He's done okay, but only okay. His line of .292/.292/.500 screams no walks, but he has tried to show a little more patience at the plate. His pitch selection is still below average and an OBP of .292 is very poor. That MUST increase. I'm cautiously hopeful!
Overall the Braves are batting .220/.301./.395 while opponents are hitting .267/.361/.465. How the Braves are 5-1, God only knows. The good news is that the† next series against the Nationals should help inflate our line! Go Braves.