I was going over some of the Braves terribleness so far this year, and the thing that stuck out is how futile the team has been in pinch hitting situations:
The Braves are 0-for-14 as pinch hitters.
That's securely the worst in baseball right now. The Nats are trailing us only by the virtue of having fewer at-bats; they are 0-for-9. Every other hit-less as pinch hitters team is in the American League.
The beginning of this stat quest was going to be in a response to Rob Neyer's post on the SBN baseball homepage this morning, which singles out Dan Uggla, Nate McLouth, and Freddie Freeman as the players on the team not producing. It's easy to pick on McLouth, especially after last season. Uggla's the new guy, so the microscope will certainly be on him, and Freeman's the rookie, so while we may give him a bit of a pass at first, he too will be expected to begin contributing at the plate. But there are other problems with the Braves offense beyond these three guys.
Pick on McLouth all you want, but he has the same on-base percentage (.289) as Martin Prado (and Alex Gonzalez). And then there's the stat highlighted above about the team's pinch hitters. So many of the Braves wins last year came with the help of key pinch hits at critical points in the game. To be 0-for that situation this season really highlights that the Braves haven't come back to win some of these close games they have been a part of.
Compare that to the Phillies hitters who are really hot right now, especially their pinch hitters, who are a combined 10-for-17. The Braves are hitting .229 as a team, the Phillies .334. Eventually these numbers will level out; the Phillies will come back down to Earth, and the Braves will get more hits. Eventually the Phillies will struggle through a stretch of 10 games like the Braves are going through, and the Braves will catch fire for 10 games like the Phillies have.
Last year through 10 games, Nate McLouth was hitting .148. This year he's hitting .229, that's an 81 point improvement. It still sucks, but it's not Nate's fault he's hitting second.
The real moral of the story is that this is only a 10-game stretch. And while every team goes through bad periods in their season, starting off bad seems to somehow blow the problem out of proportion. It's only 10 games, and the Braves are still 4-and-6, so by no means is it a disastrous stretch. For these hitters, it is also just a poor 10-game stretch, and not yet the appropriate time to hit the panic button. Braves fans can come in off the ledge.