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2011-atlanta-braves-fact-or-fiction | October | 2011 Articles

2011 Atlanta Braves Fact or Fiction

Written by Joe Lucia on .

Time for a round of fact or fiction....I take some of the more popular talking points being spouted off by Braves fans, and determine whether they're based in fact....or totally fiction. Simple, right? I'll do five today, and maybe I'll make this a recurring feature.

Jose Constanza should have gotten more playing time in September.
FICTION. You all know how I feel about Constanza. Fans who were clamoring for him to play over Heyward down the stretch don't have very good knowledge of statistics. Here's a fact: when Constanza did play in September, he was terrible. He got 24 plate appearances over the month, had four hits (none for extra bases) and no walks. He didn't even steal a base. His slash line was a gorgeous .174/.174/.174. Heyward on the other hand? In his 80 plate appearances (too few in my opinion, based on what I'm about to say), he hit .258/.375/.364. That on base was second on the team during September behind Alex Gonzalez. Naturally, Gonzalez and Heyward were in the seventh and eighth spots in the order for nearly the entire month....real smart, put your two best on base guys in front of the pitcher where they'll surely die. They each scored eight runs, or as many as Martin Prado did all month...who had 33 more plate appearances than Heyward and 46 more than Gonzalez.

Derek Lowe should be released this offseason.
FICTION. Obviously, Lowe didn't pitch anywhere nearly well enough to earn his $15 million dollar salary. But....he wasn't nearly as awful as you might think. Sure, his ERA was 5.05, but his FIP was 3.70, and his xFIP was 3.65. Those are damn good numbers, actually better than Jair Jurrjens' on the season. Lowe's biggest problem was a .327 BABIP, which was equal to his mark during his bad 2009 year and 32 points higher than his career norm of .295.

Here are some interesting facts about Lowe's career as a Brave....
-He hasn't pitched 200 innings once, after doing it three times in four years as a Dodger.
-He hasn't had an ERA under 4.00 after doing it all four seasons as a Dodger.
-He hasn't had a ground ball rate above 60% after doing it all four seasons as a Dodger.
-His highest fWAR in a season as a Brave is 2.7, which was a season low as a Dodger.

Based on Lowe's production as a Brave (7.8 fWAR in three seasons), he's slightly overpaid, assuming that 1 fWAR = $4.5 million. So he's been worth $35.1 million, and madae $45 million. There's still some use in a 2.5 fWAR pitcher at the back end of your rotation, and with Peter Moylan's tenure in Atlanta likely over, the Braves could use a veteran ground ball specialist if they don't want to pull the trigger on Cory Gearrin. Food for thought. I don't think he should be cut outright though, and I also don't think they should trade him away for ten cents on the dollar. There's still value here.

Alex Gonzalez should be allowed to leave as a free agent.
I'm going to go FICTION again. I'd rather have Yunel Escobar at short right now, but he got run out of town on a rail, and right now, Gonzalez is the guy. I don't think Tyler Pastornicky is ready down in Gwinnett, playing only 27 games in AAA before getting hurt in August and missing the rest of the year. I would have no qualms about bringing Gonzalez back for one season. He made $2.5 million this year, and provided 1.1 fWAR of value. If anything that fWAR is LOW, because Fangraphs has him listed with negative UZR (which is a total joke, considering he's a +15 on the DRS system....that right there is 1.5 WAR). If he'd be willing to come back for the same salary, I think he'd be a great stopgap for a year while waiting for Pastornicky to get ready. In September, he was the team's best hitter with a 1.018 OPS. I'm not saying he could do that for a full season, but I don't think .580 OPS bad like he looked for most of the season. I think he could get to around a .700 level, which is close to where he was after the trade last year. That plus great defense = well worth your $3 million.

Brandon Beachy shouldn't have to compete for rotation spots next year.
This is no doubt a FACT. Looking at fWAR, the only Braves starter who provided more value than Beachy this season was Tim Hudson, who threw 70 more innings than Beachy. He led the team in strikeouts as a rookie. We all complained about his walks, but did you know his walk rate was lower than both Hanson and Lowe? Another issue with Beachy was his homers. His homer rate was higher than all of the rotation aside from Hanson. But you know what? It was a damn successful rookie season. For the record, I don't think Mike Minor should need to compete for a spot either. But there are only so many spots to go around right now, and someone is going to get caught up in the numbers game.

Martin Prado deserves more blame than he's getting for the 2011 collapse.
This one is also a FACT, but by the same token, it's not his fault that he was miscast. Prado has never been a high on base guy. The .350 marks he's put up over the past couple of seasons were fueled by a .300 average and a .330 BABIP. If the hits aren't falling, he's absolutely not a top of the order hitter. And guess what? This season, the hits weren't falling, and Fredi didn't make much of an adjustment. When he moved Prado down in the order and hit Chipper second, it was a thing of beauty. And then, a couple of games later....he changed everything back because Chipper bitched and moaned about it. That was a mistake in my mind. If everything falls into place next season, this is what the best possible order would probably look like.

Bourn
Heyward
Jones
Uggla
McCann
Freeman
Prado
Gonzalez

That's a damn good lineup. The only massive change was swapping out Heyward and Prado, but that's a pretty major change. Just say Prado and Heyward bounce back, but not to their 2010 levels....say, a .330 OBP for Prado and .370 for Heyward. Over a 600 plate appearance season, that's 25 times on base - pretty major. McCann, Freeman and Uggla in the middle there seem to be interchangable based on matchups, and I'm not married to the idea of them being shifted between those three spots. Chipper should stay in the three hole, because of his wicked on base potential...he's a .380 OBP guy at his core, and I think he, and the rest of the team, bounces back to their true talent levels with no Larry Parrish in the fold next year.

So, that was fun. If you have anything you want to see in the next FOF, tweet me, comment, whatever. I'll be keeping my eyes on Twitter for anything interesting. Season in review player pieces will be starting up tomorrow too...joy. 
5 comments
congtysangoviet1
congtysangoviet1

FICTION. You all know how I feel about Constanza. Fans who were clamoring for him to play over Heyward down the stretch don't have very good knowledge of statistics. Here's a fact: when Constanza did play in September, he was terrible. He got 24 plate appearances over the month, giá 1m2 sàn gỗ tự nhiên had four hits (none for extra bases) and no walks. He didn't even steal a base. His slash line was a gorgeous .174/.174/.174. Heyward on the other hand? In his 80 plate appearances (too few in my opinion, based on what I'm about to say), he hit .258/.375/.364. That on base was second on the team during September behind Alex Gonzalez. Naturally, Gonzalez and Heyward were in the seventh and eighth spots in the order for nearly the entire month....real smart, put your two best on base guys in front of the pitcher where they'll surely die. They each scored eight runs, or as many as Martin Prado did all month...who had 33 more plate appearances than Heyward and 46 more than Gonzalez.


Derek Lowe should be released this offseason.
FICTION. Obviously, Lowe didn't pitch anywhere nearly well enough to earn his $15 million dollar salary. But....he wasn't nearly as awful as https://goo.gl/dj194h you might think. Sure, his ERA was 5.05, but his FIP was 3.70, and his xFIP was 3.65. Those are damn good numbers, actually better than Jair Jurrjens' on the season. Lowe's biggest problem was a .327 BABIP, which was equal to his mark during his bad 2009 year and 32 points higher than his career norm of .295.

Bueh
Bueh

I'm not sure how you're justifying that Heyward and Gonzalez should have been moved up in the order because they were having a good final month. At what point in the month would you say is the point when Fredi should have realized he should move Heyward and Constanza up? Secondly I would love to see their batting lines with RISP (or even with a runner on first, if that exists) for September. I really think if one of them got on, the other guy would panic and be nonproductive and even wipe the other guy out.

Pretty much agree with everything else you said, though. I'm wondering how Lowe ended up getting that deal. Did Schuerholtz (or was it Wren) not realize our minors were loaded with pitching at the time? I guess the same can even be asked for KK.


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