Here’s a look at some of the more obscure numbers produced by our Braves. These numbers do not include today’s Braves/Mets game unless otherwise stated.
Jeff Francoeur’s out of zone swing %. For the last 3 seasons, this number has been a little over 36%. Additionally, his contact % is up to 84%, when it was around 76-77% before. His K% is down to 8.4% from the 18-20% he’s had from years before. His walk rate is also down by a few percentage points, but I’ll take many, many more balls in play for less walks. I’m probably one of the posts more critical about FYF and his plate approach, but he is showing tremendous improvement this season. He’s swinging at less bad pitches and putting more balls in play this season. Our eyes tell us this during his at bats and these stats agree too. He’s putting more balls in the outfield and hitting less grounders and infield flies as well. All of this is a good sign. He can hit like his old self again and has some upside as into maybe a poor man’s Alfonso Soriano at the plate. Oh, and, small sample size of course, but it looks like his defense is trending back up too.
Yunel Escobar’s pitchers per PA. I’m not the first person to talk about this or notice is, but he’s swinging at everything. He’s aggressive and it’s pretty annoying watching him make first pitch outs. In his defense, however, he’s got a career high 22.7 LD% and a career low .301 BABIP. Additionally, his Out of zone Swing is 4% lower than the last two seasons and he’s swinging at more pitches in the zone by about 7%. He’s swinging at more pitches over the plate and I’m guessing he’s swinging at more meatballs because of the high LD%. However, one big knock against him, is that his infield flyball % is up to 11.8% from 3.6% last season. Infield flies are outs about 97% of the time so they’re basically strikeouts. I’m not too worried about Yunel and I think he’s capable of bringing his OBP over .360, OPS over .800, and play great defense at SS.
Kelly Johnson’s PrOPS. This stands for Predicted OPS, a stat produced by J.C. Bradbury of Sabernomics. It predicts a players OPS based on his batted balls, strikeouts, home runs, and walks. According to PrOPS, Kelly Johnson should be hitting something like .276/.359/.467. Kelly’s LD% is down this year from last, but his K’s are down and his walks are up. Kelly’s been playing better than his results have shown. Hopefully he doesn’t pull a Nick Swisher this year.
Casey Kotchman’s infield flyball %. Remember when I said these were basically strikeouts? Maybe his nickname needs to be changed to Captain IFF. Another bad number: 0% HR/FB. On the plus side, every other peripheral is good. Pitches per PA up to 3.8. LD% at 23%. BB and K rate almost even. I have no idea why he’s hitting so many infield flies and he certainly will start hitting HRs eventually. For this season, Kotchman is much more likely to hit like it’s 2007 than 2008.
Chipper Jones’s ISO slugging. And, of course, Chipper hits a HR today (not included in the ISO). If A-Rod hit that HR there'd be 30 articles up about him hitting another "meaingless" Hr. Anyway, this is the lowest ISO ever in Chipper’s career. Expect this to pick up and another .900 - 1.000 OPS season from him. Sorry nothing too interesting to say about this guy.
Garrett Anderon’s BABIP. Yeah he sucks but he’s better than what he’s done. As long as you have your hopes set on a glorious .780 OPS season, then he’s a solid professional
David Ross’s OPS. He’s hitting like Heap is supposed to. Obviously he’s not this good, but he’s probably one of the best backup catchers in baseball. Cannon arm behind the plate and a solid hitting catcher. Would be the starting catcher on some teams.
Jordan Schafer’s strikeout percentage. Yikes. Overall, he’s playing great though. Typically hitting the ball hard when it is in play and still talking a lot to counteract his strikeouts. His HR/FB rate will drop eventually, but I wonder how much of this he can sustain. Also, keep in mind his walk rate is slightly inflated by some intentional walks and his BABIP is .400 right now. I think he can finish with at least a solid .250/.360/.410 season. I don’t think he’s ready to hit leadoff this season, and I hope next season he simply becomes too good to hit leadoff.
This includes Monday’s game. Javier Vazquez’s K/BB ratio. This is ace-quality. He’s shaky sometimes with the HRs (like in today’s game. Ugh.), but he’s among the lead leaders in strikeouts and not walking a ton.
Derek Lowe’s tERA. The lower number is his actual tERA while the higher number is the tERA if he was in the AL and facing a DH everyday. I messed up the calc the first time. tERA is an advanced defensive-independent pitching stat the looks at K rates, walk rates, HR rates, and batted balls data. It’s like FIP on steroids. The number is really low because of his miniscule HR rate, which is bound to go up. However, Lowe’s walk rate is also going to trend down. Either way, he’s pitching like the ace the Braves were looking for when they inked him.
Jair Jurrjens’s Fielding Independent Pitching. He’s getting pretty lucky on ERA, but he’s still pretty good. Like Lowe, this is fueled by a ridiculously low HR rate. tERA, however, thinks Jair should be around a 4.3 ERA in the NL or 4.7 in the AL. His LD%, FB%, and walk rate are all up with his K rate way down. I think Jurrjens can produce better peripherals than this, but his ERA will start to go up eventually and hopefully it’ll settle in the 3’s and not the 4’s.
Kenshin Kawakami’s walks per 9 innings. In addition, apparently all the HRs Lowe and Jurrjens aren’t giving up are being given up by Kawakami and his 2.08 HR/9, a number that would make Chuck James blush. His control just isn’t there. Walking batters and serving meatballs to the plate. I really hope he can adjust because he has the ability to be much better than this if he can ever find his command.
Jo-Jo Reyes’s groundball rate. This is actually higher than Derek Lowe’s. His LD% is ridiculously low as well. These are bound to trend towards the negative, but Jo-Jo is pitching much better than he ever has in the majors. There’s no way Glavine can out-pitch him this year. This could be a breakout year for Jo-Jo, and I think he’s capable of putting out an era around the low 4’s or maybe even high 3’s this season.
Jeff Bennett’s fastball%. Up from his usual 74%. His velocity is also up about a MPH to 92.9. Looks like it’s working for him because his K rate is over 9 per 9innings, and he has a pretty good walk rate (2.31 per 9). His slider velocity is up to 86.8 MPH as well. His LD% is a ridiculous 31.6% though, which explains his high batting average against. This should definitely go down. Looks like Bennett may have turned the corner from a 6th inning guy or mopup man to a good reliever who could have some upside. (Edit: Alternatively, maybe we can call this "Jeff Bennett with normal rest.")
Rafael Soriano’s fastball velocity. He should be around 93-94 MPH his velocity isn’t completely back yet, but he’s been dominant. His walk rate is pretty high (4.09), but he’s fanning batters at a rate of 12.27 per 9.
Peter Moylann’s GB/FB ratio. Ridiculous. Beautiful 11.57 K’s per 9 as well. What’s killing him though? 9 walks in 9.1 innings.
Mike Gonzalez’s strikeouts per 9. Three relievers fanning over 10 per 9? That’s nuts. Gonzo had a couple shaky outings early in the season, but he’s been lights out since