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July 26 Recap

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It has been a good 2nd half so far.  Since the All-Star break, we have won each series (2 four game sets and 1 three game) going 8 - 3 in that 11 game span.  We now sit only 3.5 games back in the wild card, 6.5 in the division.  Even better, PECOTA's postseason odds (PECOTA-adjusted) had us at 58.4%, higher than the Cardinals' chance at the playoffs.  Why is ours so high?  Because of our Pct3, or our expected win percentage.  PECOTA has ours at .615!!!  That is higher than any other major league team.  Let that settle in.  Only the Red Sox come close at .600.  Everyone else, including the Phillies, the Dodgers, the Yankees, etc., falls short by more than .30.  Damn it feels good for our team to be considered so highly.  Plus, this was last updated before yesterday's (July 26th) game.  Now, it should be even higher.

You may not agree with these predictions, but let me put our 2nd half performance into some perspective.  During this post-All-Star game stretch, we have been scoring 6.09 runs a game and only allowing 2.72.  In that same period, the Phillies, who have gone 8 - 2, have scored at the same rate (6.09), but have allowed 3.36 runs per game. 

Looking at our year-to-date team stats, our OPS+ is right around average (98) and our OPS is ranked 5th out of all teams, which may come to a surprise to many.  The problem lies in turning that production into runs, as we are right around league average in runs per game (4.44 compared to league average of 4.43).  Less surprising, though, is how good our pitching has been, which ranks 4th in about every category (runs per game, ERA+, WHIP, K/9) and 3rd in ERA. 

I think the message to take away is that we have been playing good baseball all year.  It wasn't until recently that it has showed up in the win column.  Sure, we have been hot all month (15 - 8) and our offense has really been helped by the additions of McLouth and Prado in the everyday lineup (and the subtraction of Francoeur), but it would seem timely hitting and a few bullpen mishaps (our luck, or actual wins minus expected Pythagorean wins, is -2) have haunted us at times this year.  With the type of ball we've been playing and are predicted to play, I'd say the Braves are going to be turning some heads come September.

Braves 10 - Brewers 2

MVP: Amazingly, Derek Lowe.  His line was decent (6.0 IP, 9 H, 1 HR, 2 ER, 3 K, 0 BB, 10-5 GO-FO, .261 WPA), but his stuff didn't seem to be all there, today.  2 of his strikeouts came in the first inning (the other against Looper, who was trying to bunt).  Soon after, the Brewers started to really smack the ball around, which is somewhat evident by his 9 hits allowed.  However, he buckled when he had to and, with a little help from our defense (more below), he takes the credit as the MVP for this game.

LVP: Martin Prado.  He went 0 for 4 in this game, but it isn't all bad.  It wasn't like he didn't hit the ball hard; he was simply hitting it right at people.  Plus, he showed off some good defense at third base.

MIP: Casey Kotchman 3-run bomb in the top of the 6th.  And believe me when I say it was a bomb.  Casey knew it from the second he swung the bat, since he was already trotting out of the batter box.  It was only his 5th homer of the year, but it was probably his most impressive all year[2].

UotG: Defense.  Lowe was pitching to contact all day, so the defense had to be on its toes.  It was up for the task, as everyone in the infield had some great plays[3].  The most impressive play came from McLouth, who had to track down another near-double by Prince Fielder.

[1] Here is the direct quote taken from PECOTA's PECOTA-adjusted page:

July 4 - updated player performance rates (not just playing time) in the depth charts, and fed those results into the expected win% for pecota projected standings.

My interpretation is that they have updated all the player's projections up to July 4th and an subsequent updates are only to roster and standing changes.

[2] His homer off J.A. Happ back on the 2nd of July might've been just as far; we'll see once hittrackeronline posts the distance.

[3] Kelly had some good plays, but misplayed a ball that ricocheted off of Kotchman's glove.  It would have been a tough play, but doable.


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