Warning: Creating default object from empty value in /home4/derok6/public_html/chop-n-change/plugins/system/cdnforjoomla/helper.php on line 27
explaining-mediocrity-how-can-the-league-leader-in-avg-and-era-be-a-500-team | May | 2008 Articles

2008 Archives

Explaining Mediocrity: How Can the League Leader in AVG and ERA Be a .500 Team?

on .

The Braves have had a pretty frustrating season, needless to say. We're leading the league in Batting Average and ERA, but we can't figure out how to win more games than we've lost. How is that possible? I've complained about Bobby's bullpen management and commented on how I wish we bunted less, but that's a bit unsatisfying. Here are a few problems. We're slow. Yes, I know I keep saying speed is overrated, but you guys are right -- it's important when a guy can't score from second on a single, or when you can't get down the line fast enough to prevent a twin killing. We're 3rd in the league in double plays, just about the worst offensive occurence there is. We're 12th in the league in stolen bases, but we're tied for 4th in the league in stolen base percentage, which means we're making the most of opportunities when they present themselves. Brian McCann is possibly the slowest player in the league, Mark Teixeira has below-average speed, and Chipper's perpetually-injured legs don't have a lot of sprint left in them either. And our lack of speed feeds Bobby's worst instincts to take men out for pinch runners in late innings, which hamstrings us whether we tie the game or don't. We are burning out our bullpen. I've said this before, but it's no less true. We're leading the major leagues in appearances by our relievers, 133 bullpen calls in 38 games this season. We've used an average of 4.5 pitchers per game, which is the second highest in baseball, just a tick below the Mets. When the pen has pitched, the results have been mostly positive, as we have a 3.74 bullpen ERA, which isn't shabby, but considering that we have our best 4 relievers on the DL -- Soriano, Moylan, Gonzalez, and Smoltz -- we'd better find a way for our starters to start going 7 innings a game every game, or else we'll start putting James Andrews' great-grandkids through college. Our situational strategy is screwed up. Bobby Cox has made a lot of questionable in-game decisions this year, both with the bullpen and with the bench. We have almost twice as many sacrifice bunts as sacrifice flies -- 16 sac bunts and 9 sac flies. This helps highlight a fundamental misunderstanding of the term "productive out." I do think that sac bunts can be appropriate when a pitcher's at bat, and there our pitchers have been less than productive. Jo-Jo Reyes blew two sac bunt opportunities last night, and our pitchers have only collected 9 sac bunts on the season. Kelly and Yunel have 5 of the rest, which is stupid, because they're top-of-the-lineup hitters, placed at the top of the lineup specifically because they're supposed to be able to get on base without making out. We're hitting a lot better with 2 outs than with no one out -- .794 OPS versus .725 -- and the plurality of our runs have come with 2 outs. Mac Thomason has suggested one reason for this wide disparity is that, with no outs, the team is frequently looking to give away an out on a bunt, whereas with 2 outs the team swings away and is consequently much more productive. I don't put a lot of stock in RISP stats, but ours aren't good, as we're batting only .250/.340/.375 with runners in scoring position. It's certainly possible to see the team pressing in a high-pressure situation, which is borne out by our stats in close-and-late situations: .240/.324/.330, more than a hundred points below our overall OPS. Ultimately, "situational strategy" is a bit like "productive out": mostly an oxymoron. If we could hit our normal OPS with runners on base -- when the pitcher should be nervous himself, trying to avoid the walk while also trying to avoid throwing a meatball -- we'd be just fine. All this bunting, double-switching, and LOOGY burnout obscures the fact that we've got a really good team, with a good offense and a good pitching staff. We don't need to play for one run, play for individual matchups, because every time you play the odds with a switch you have a good chance of coming up short, and you also lose the ability to use that player later in the game. Bobby outthinks himself, and he's done it a lot this year, to the team's detriment. Of course, our Pythagorean W-L is 23-15, so in an alternate universe somewhere we're leading the division, instead of mired in 4th. While I don't quite know why the Braves have done so poorly, I have an inkling of why Pythagoras hates us: we're bean-eaters.

Warning: DOMDocument::load(): php_network_getaddresses: getaddrinfo failed: Name or service not known in /home4/derok6/public_html/chop-n-change/modules/mod_xmlarticles/helper.php on line 19

Warning: DOMDocument::load(http://www.bloguinmedia.com/curation/maintop/articles.xml): failed to open stream: php_network_getaddresses: getaddrinfo failed: Name or service not known in /home4/derok6/public_html/chop-n-change/modules/mod_xmlarticles/helper.php on line 19

You Might Like...