Having discussed the pitching prowess of the Braves' staff yesterday - and because it's a slow day in the office - I decided to see if I could construct an equivalent review for the hitters. This was much harder to do.
Right away, I'm hit with the thought that this will probably be a skewed portrait, for multiple reasons:
- Jason was doing horribly for a month... and now is DL'd
- BJ is still doing horribly.
- Brian McCann is just now getting back
Nonetheless, it's still the overall picture that I'm looking for, so here goes. Please note that for all of this data, I have chosen to exclude pitchers from the equation. Oddly enough, that might actually hurt the Braves in certain stats, but I do think it's more fair to do so.
A. How is this team doing in terms of scoring runs? There's a lot of ways to measure this, and I have a mixed bag of answers as a result:
A1: Ranking of wRC+ (avg/normalized Runs Created): Braves are 3rd (113) to the Indians (123) and Rockies (114)
A2: Ranking of Runs Scored per game: 10th at 4.4, just ahead of a bunch of teams.
A3: Ranking of Home Runs per game: yeah, still 1st (1.38; Rockies/Jays 2nd at 1.32)
A4: Ranking of RBI per Plate Appearance: 8th place (12% of Braves' PA's result in an RBI)
B. How are they in terms of creating run-scoring opportunities?
B1: wOBA: 5th (.336)
B2: raw OBA: 11th (.330)
B3: Walk%: 3rd (9.7% - MUCH better than I'd guessed; behind A's/11% and Reds/10.5%)
B4: KO%: 29th (24.0% - I hear the sound of a dead horse being beaten)
B5: Stolen Bases: 23rd (14 - highest is 27; lowest is 10)
B6: Team OPS: 6th (.771). ROX .827 lead; CLE/BOS/DET/MIL
C. How are the Braves doing with hitting in general? Once again: lots of measuring sticks are available.
C1: Team Batt Avg: 17th (.252). You really have to look at Heyward, BJ, and Uggla for this.
C2: Team ISO power: 3rd (.188). Barely behind the Rockies; Indians are #1 (.204).
C3: Team Slugging: 5th (.440). Indians/Rockies #1 (.475), then BOS, MIL.
C4: Team BABIP: 9th (.301). Would seem a little low, but lots of variables here. Astros(!) #1 w/.329.
C5: Line Drive%: 13th highest (20.1%)
C6: Ground Ball%: 26th highest (42.3%). I guess this is good?
C7: Fly Ball%: 7th highest (37.5%). Homers are fly ball, right?
C8: Infield Fly%*: 8th highest (10.7%). That one's not so good. Angels best (5.4%); Marlins (13%) worst.
* Sam Holbrook was not consulted for this stat.
D. What about plate discipline? Here we find some interesting stuff.
D1: Walks/K Ratio: 19th (40%). Best are OAK/LAD (57%); worst is HOU (25%)
D2: Total Pitches seen per PA: 25th worst (3.78). #1 is Mets (4.08); worst is Giants (3.69),
so there's actually less than a half-a-pitch-per-plate-appearance spread in the data.
D3: Balls recieved per PA: 17th (1.42). Data spread is from 1.57 to 1.32. Meh.
D4: Strikes received per PA: Oddly, this rank is 2nd fewest (2.36). But then, #30 has only 2.55, so who cares?
D5: Swing% at non-strikes: 14th (29.5%). Best is Rays (23.8%); worst is LAA (33%; Josh Hamilton is at 42%).
D6: Swing% at strikes: 6th (66.7%). #1 is STL (69%). Worst is SEA (60.7%). Yes, you want to swing at strikes.
D7: Contact with non-strikes: 28th (61.2%). Best is KCR (72.1%); worst HOU (57%).
Let's combine this with D5 above. ~30% of the time, Braves will swing at pitches out
of the strike zone. They will then whiff on almost 40% of those pitches. But keep reading...
D8: Contact% with balls that are strikes: 30th. This seems like a true red flag: 81.7%. Best SFG (90%).
The Braves would have to improve this figure by 5% just to get into a normal range.
Stated another way, there's a whiff on almost 20% of strikes swung at.
D9: Contact% on any swing: Once again, this is poor: 29th (74.5%)... and that leads to this one...
D10: Swing-and-miss %: 29th place. Braves whiff on 11.5% of all pitches seen...including the ones not swung at.
>> Reminder: the team ranks 3rd in walks taken; 2nd in total strikeouts.
In general, this team looks like they can't seem to hit what they choose to swing at (when compared to other teams). When they do square one up - yeah, it is driven. But maybe I'll dig a little deeper - later - to see if perhaps there's more to this about swings and pitch selection.
E. Finally: What about WAR (Wins above Replacement)?
When you add it all up, Atlanta ranks 3rd in total fWAR, tied with the Giants at 6.8. The Indians (8.2) and Red Sox (7.3) lead the way. You have to say that's pretty good, though I do believe there's still great room for improvement.