Boston Moves Past the Giants (by AtlCrackers Fan)

Ed. note: to see the previous installment in the 1914 Braves saga, click here

From September 4-10, Boston finally captured sole occupancy of first place in the National League.

Here were the standings on the morning of September 4:

 WLPct.GBChange
New York Giants6551.5606-3
Boston Braves65520.5560.55-3
Chicago Cubs6458.52545-4
St. Louis Cardinals6460.51652-7
Pittsburgh Pirates5563.466114-4
Philadelphia Phillies5463.46211.53-4
Cincinnati Reds5565.458123-5
Brooklyn Dodgers5464.458125-3

The Braves completed their 22 game road trip, capturing the final two games in Philadelphia. After a Sunday off, Boston opened at home (actually, they were playing at the home of the Red Sox, Fenway Park, not South End Grounds) with a three games against the New York Giants. Boston would split the Monday double-header and capture the final game on Tuesday, taking the series — and sole possession of first place. The Braves scored three runs in the last two innings to win the opener in a 5-4 squeaker. After losing the night-cap by a 10-1 margin, Bill James would capture his 19th victory, and 5th in a row, with an 8-3 thrashing of the Giants.

Boston would then play back-to-back doubleheaders on Wednesday and Thursday against the Phillies. They would split the Wednesday matches, and take both ends of Thursday’s games. (That’s three double-headers in four days, for those counting.)

Perhaps the biggest highlight, and a perfect symbol of the Braves’ improbable run, came in the second game of Wednesday’s double-header. George “Iron” Davis, a 1912 graduate of Williams College, had signed with New York’s AL team — then known as the Highlanders — but he was grabbed by Stallings in 1913 after he was sent to Rochester in the International League.

Boston was a good place for him, as he had enrolled in Harvard Law School. In 1914, he made his first appearance for Boston on July 1, and had only made two additional appearances before Sept. 9. But on that day, the spitballing Cantab twirled a no-hitter. Davis survived five walks, three in the 5th inning, as well as two errors by 3B Red Smith, to defeat the Phillies 7-0. It was one of only seven career wins for the future lawyer.

TRIVIA NOTE: Davis remains the only National League pitcher to throw a no-hitter in Fenway Park.

The standings through September 10:

 WLPct.GBChange
Boston Braves7254.5717-2
New York Giants6956.5522.54-5
Chicago Cubs6961.53155-3
St. Louis Cardinals6862.52364-2
Pittsburg Pirates5966.47212.54-3
Philadelphia Phillies5868.460144-5
Brooklyn Dodgers5770.44915.53-6
Cincinnati Reds5671.44116.51-6

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97 thoughts on “Boston Moves Past the Giants (by AtlCrackers Fan)”

  1. From the last thread RE: Simmons

    Why isn’t it the coaches fault. They have laid out an approach they would like him to take and he won’t.

    They have failed to motivate him. Maybe he needs to ride the pine until he gets it or something else internal.

    I think there is something going on with Simmons. I know there was a rumor his dad died. Maybe that has something to do with it.

  2. @3 – The young man is a professional. They failed to motivate him? Really? He won’t stop doing the things that are obviously failing and its on Fletcher and Walker? Dude I don’t get that.

  3. I don’t think it’s so much motivation that the coaches should be delivering (although that is a small factor), the real burden of a coach and, in my opinion what makes a good coach, is their ability to communicate the concepts and get buy in from the player. This is where I think Walker & Co. are failing. Walker knows what the players need to be doing but he is either failing to communicate that to them or failing to get the players to buy into the concept. This is not motivation. I think the players are plenty motivated but the coaches are failing in those other areas.

  4. Alex, I agree. They have a sole purpose but I disagree with you on what it is. They simply cannot ‘get our hitters to perform at their fullest potential’. Walker and Fletcher have no leverage whatsoever in the coach/player relationship. And Simmons knows it. He can simply ignore their ‘coaching’ without consequence. Thus, even though it is totally detrimental to the team effort to win games Andrelton goes out and swings as hard as he can at pitches that he cannot even make contact with. That isn’t on Walker and Fletcher. That’s on Simmons.

    If their title was hitting counselor rather than coach that would be a more accurate description of their ‘sole purpose’. They offer technical advice to those that want it. But they are psychologists more than anything else. I am sure that when Simmons is in the cage Fredi, Walker and Fletcher are there watching him and talking to him. And Simmons may even be trying to comply but he simply does not have to do a single thing that they want him to do once the game starts.

    edit: Hap I agree. But you’d think that failure would be a great motivator. Simmons is a failure as a hitter. You’d think that he’d be more receptive to advice. Or more willing to try a different concept

    Walker and Fletcher will probably be fired. I don’t care. Hitting coaches are of little consequence to the bottom line of winning games. But no one should expect Simmons or any of our other failed offensive players to improve with a new regime.

  5. Simmons was benched yesterday, so there’s that. Whether it was motivational/punishment, or just a day off, who knows….

  6. The article in AJC is instructive. Simmons hit 17 HR last season. Chicks dig the long ball. No one is getting a 20 million dollar per year contract and Nike deals because they can pick it and throw it. The quest to duplicate last season may have ruined this season. He needs to be convinced that his first season line .289/.335/.416/.751 (SSS) makes him a star.

  7. Johnny, in my experience it has always been easier, as a coach, to get buy-in from players if you already have a proven track record of success. I have known many people who just would not even give any credence to anything the coach was saying because they didn’t think the coach was at all successful with anyone else. I don’t really know what Walker’s track record is as a hitting coach but I can’t really think of any player who seems to have improved as a hitter in Atlanta while Walker was here. So maybe Simmons just doesn’t believe what Walker is peddling because he thinks “what have you done for anyone else?”. Don’t misunderstand what I am saying here, I still think the bulk of the blame should go on the players but I also think Walker has just not been doing a good job of selling what he’s got for the players and that is one of the skills a good coach is supposed to have.

  8. Or maybe Walker’s constantly on him about channeling his inner Joe Simpson and taking everything over 2B, and that’s screwed him up so bad that this is the end result?

  9. Simmons did win a batting title in single-A ball, so perhaps he’s holding on to an approach that once brought him success? When he’s cut down on his swing, he’s been able to punch the ball to right, so he’s far from hopeless.

  10. Lot of cheap talk about how this is a failure of coaching or Andrelton’s fault for being stubborn. The simplest answer here is probably the correct one: Andrelton doesn’t have the ability to be an adequate major league hitter, and the flashes he’s shown before were a result of a poor approach by pitchers. A coach can’t teach ability, and a player can’t learn ability. It’s no one’s fault, but it’s a big problem.

  11. He’s played nearly every game, and he’s got a bad shoulder and a bad angle, so there’s no question that a lot of his struggles are related to poor health. (Same with Heyward in 2011 and 2013.)

    But over the offseason, Andrelton is going to have to work on his plate approach. Max effort is how he generates his line drive power, and I’m sure he’s worried that he doesn’t know how to swing any other way. It’s basically impossible to rebuild your swing on the fly. But he is going to need to work on it in November and December.

    But the real problem is Chris Johnson, who has no skills whatsoever apart from batting average. If he doesn’t hit for a high average next year, he will have another awful year.

  12. @14 I don’t think that’s the simplest answer at all, especially given his track record. Given how common it is for young players to hit road blocks as the league adjusts to them, I’d say that’s far more likely an explanation than “he just can’t hit.”

  13. We’ll have a new hitting coach next year, so don’t strain your brain too much over that. Fair or not, part of the hitting-coach job description is “scapegoat” and, let’s face it, the results are what they are.

    As it relates to Simmons, maybe he’s just always going to be Shawon Dunston with colossal range, which is to say, a Francoeurian offensive player—always swing early, always swing big, hope the pitcher forgets who you are.

    But he is stubborn. I mean, when you’re hitting in the late innings of a game where you’re down 2 runs and you swing at the first pitch (and ground out), you’re either pointlessly stubborn or you’re just not paying attention to the scoreboard at all. That’s just bad baseball—-you can’t hit a 2-run HR there. You must give the pitcher a chance to put you on base. As great as he is to watch in the field—-and I love that he’s our shortstop—-he’s almost equally frustrating to watch at the plate.

    At this level where players are millionaires, motivation is a strange thing—-sometimes accepting the challenge of finding out how good you can be (as Maddux put it in his HoF speech) isn’t enough for some people. Other buttons, it seems, have to be pushed.

    Speaking of stubborn, I’m reminded of the conversations that took place between Joe Torre/Larry Bowa & Robinson Cano in his first few years with the Yankees. As promising as he was in his early career, there were 2 issues with him: one, he never walked & two, he very noticeably didn’t hustle on ground balls or he stopped to admire long-hit balls, some of which didn’t go over the fence. It got to the point where he’d hit a grounder to second and a decent chunk of the home crowd would start booing him as soon as he began his half-hearted trot. This wasn’t an old Chipper Jones protecting a hip, knee or hamstring—-this guy was doing it his rookie season.

    “If the big stars on the team hustle, why can’t he?” wasn’t something he was hearing, so the way Torre & Bowa appealed to him was to explain how he had the talent to go down in history—-as a Hall of Famer/Yankee great—-and what that meant was that he’d be revered forever in this town and, btw, he could make lotsa extra money forever just by being a part of that small fraternity. Doing what’s right for the team will solidify your legacy. They appealed to his ego, but they also challenged him as a player, challenged his pride, and implied a longterm incentive.

    And it worked for awhile… until Torre was no longer manger. While Cano eventually became a somewhat more patient hitter & a real everyday iron man, the same hustle issues began to happen again under Joe Girardi. However, the team was so good around Cano that Girardi seemed to indulge those moments and then, when the club fell off a bit, Cano was so close to his next contract that the Yanks didn’t seem to want to upset him about it. Of course, he left anyway.

    The point is, sometimes what seems to be the most obvious way to help the team just doesn’t get through to the player. Maybe not starting him yesterday got Andrelton’s attention. I just hope that his stupid, late-inning base-running escapade wasn’t his answer.

  14. Were the “makeup” concerns about Cano even legitimate? Maybe he has it right and his coaches wrong. Staying healthy is a skill and has immense value. Here’s how many games Cano has played every season of his career:

    132
    122
    160
    159
    161
    160
    159
    160
    161

    If pacing yourself and maybe missing out on a infield hit here and there is what it takes to ensure an irreplaceable, top level player is in the line-up every day, I’ll take that over looking good busting it out of the box in situations where 99% of the time it makes no difference.

  15. #20
    Here & there? I’m guessing that you didn’t watch him play much.

    And I’ll certainly guess that you never saw him turn a triple into a double, which he did on several occasions, so much so that his manager, coaches & teammates commented upon it & intimated their dissatisfactions. The biggest problem that other Yankees had with him was the 1-percent of the time that it did make a difference.

    FWIW, I certainly mentioned his iron-man status, but to me, it’s not an either/or proposition. Instead of automatically assuming that dogging it helps you play more games, why wouldn’t you assume that hustling makes you a better player & actually helps your team win more games?

  16. @21 I didn’t automatically assume anything. I suggested an alternative explanation. Maybe the better question should be why you think automatic assumptions are preferable to considering all possible explanations and evaluating them on the merits, instead of why I allegedly assumed something (which I didn’t) other than your own pet assumption.

    However, I stand by my view that concern over hustle is almost always exaggerated. It’s not to say that, for instance, turning a triple into a double is not a significant loss of production, but that most people get worked up about it over infield ground outs that would have been nothing more than a closer out had the runner gone harder.

  17. Grst, I think you’re misinterpreting the meaning of the word. Makeup doesn’t mean health — games played stats are irrelevant to the meaning of the word. Makeup specifically refers to a player’s attitude, and even more specifically, his will to work hard, to take criticism, to get better. Cano has been dinged with makeup concerns going back to when he was in the minors, and his teammates have publicly called him out — this isn’t speculation, it’s the press. Mariano Rivera is not famous for slagging his teammates publicly. But he has called out Cano.

    I agree that “hustle” is often overrated, and can play into pernicious stereotypes about lazy talented players versus scrappy untalented ones. Pete Rose is often brought up in these conversations. Of course, hustle isn’t the reason he’s an all-time great. He was a terrific player because he had otherwordly bat control, and by any measure, he was one of the most talented baseball players ever to pick up a stick.

    But everyone on a team notices when one of the guys is dogging it. And they understandably don’t like it.

  18. #22
    And I don’t get the either/or proposition in #20, so there we are. FWIW, my original point was more about how a team changes a player’s stubborn ways that are viewed to be detrimental. But I never meant to turn this into a Rex Hudler vs. Rogers Hornsby conversation.

    That Stanton thing looked awful. Seemed like he was trying to swing the bat to keep the ball from his face. Hate to jump the gun, but it looked like a Tony Conigliaro-type episode.

  19. That’s just horrible.

    “MILWAUKEE — Marlins slugger Giancarlo Stanton suffered multiple facial fractures, dental damage and a facial laceration requiring stitches after being hit in the face by a pitch from Brewers starter Mike Fiers in the fifth inning on Thursday night.”

  20. That ball must’ve been running like crazy. Neither Stanton nor Reed Johnson avoided it.

    The Marlins got pretty mad, but they swung at both pitches. Hard to say they weren’t competitive.

  21. I’m sure Heyward gets asked about it later today by the beat writers or in the off-season by somebody like Jayson Stark. I’d love to hear what he has to say.

  22. I’m interested to see if Stanton’s hitting is affected because of this. We’ve always speculated the shot to the face affected Heyward.

  23. Makeup is a real, valid baseball concern for real baseball teams. Cano was a bit weak in that area when he came up. So was Andruw, until he got benched mid-inning one time. Poor make-up is the reason Chris Johnson occasionally has to sit out after he throws temper tantrums.

  24. A comment on the Simmons discussion. Simmons started hitting with power last year during the Baseball Classic, as a member of the Dutch team. Hensely Meulens was the manager. He was also the Giants hitting coach. Pehaps his coaching contributed to Andreton’s power breakout?

  25. Anyway, the reason I went there was to look at how bad Regression has been lately.

    His line for the last 28 days is .207/.261/.256.

    Sit the man, Fredi.

    Not quite as bad as Andrelton’s .186/.213/.279 though. But Andrelton didn’t misplace his glove back in high school.

  26. I thought the story was that our current hitting coaches helped Simmons make an adjustment around the ASB that drove his second-half success. Could obviously be wrong.

  27. @39 – Wow that headshot of Johnson kinda looks like Francoeur with a douchey goatee.

    Which brings me to a question I have often wondered: Do baseball players, as a collective group, own the distinction of having undoubtedly the worst facial hair choices?

    I loved both players, but Tim Hudson’s soul patch and Chipper’s latter day chin thing were horrible.

    Of course, to counter my own argument, Smoltz’s beard and Marquis Grissom’s mustache were fantastic.

  28. @37 and 42 I’m sorry but that is simply ridiculous. Y’all are saying that somehow Muelens somehow ‘coached’ Simmons into almost tripling his best HR output of his professional career? It wasn’t luck? A statistical outlier? This season’s 7 is his second best HR year. C’mon guys. But what the hell if Muelens is the Simmons whisperer then the Braves should hire him. Maybe he can fix BJ and Johnson while he is at it.

  29. Is forced castration a possibility in MLB? There’ve been a few players I’d like not to reproduce.

    Re facial hair, UGA philosophy grad students in the late ’60s and early ’70s wore some pretty ugly whiskers, I among them.

    Andrelton will improve on offense. By all means, get him whoever can hasten the process; but please do not give up and trade him.

    Go Braves! (Is ‘Rissa recapping today, I hope?)

  30. Andrelton had a lot of “Just Enough” homers last year, which meant that his total was almost certain to regress. But he does have above-average power for a shortstop. Sort of like Asdrubal Cabrera. The question is whether he can improve his abysmal plate approach.

  31. Yeah with Andrelton it’s not about saying “don’t swing so hard”, and more about “for the love of all that’s holy, swing less”.

  32. No, its also about don’t swing so hard too. He is totally out of control on his first swing. There is almost no way outside of plane dumb luck that he makes contact with that swing.

    .186/.213/.279 just flat out sucks. I think it easily outweighs any contribution he makes with his glove.

  33. Simmons and Andruw Jones are very similar players. They both are from Curacao, they both play All-World defense, they both have the potential for excellent power at their positions, and they both have very undisciplined approaches. When Andruw was hitting well, he had balanced mechanics and hit for power really well. Andruw would go through stretches where he’d be falling down all the time and just losing his mechanics. Andrelton seems to be prone to that as well.

  34. Andruw would take a walk. Even in his ‘awful’ last season with the Braves he drew 70 walks. And Andruw unlike Simmons could actually hit.

    I put quotes around awful because .222/.311/.413/.724 looks positively Troutian compared to what we have now.

  35. @40 Can’t sit him against lefties, hitting them is the only thing he’s good at.

    If you check out his splits, they’ll give you nightmares. His OBP is 300 points higher against lefties. Not an exaggeration.

    I repeat: Chris Johnson’s OBP is 300 POINTS higher against lefties than righties.

  36. Only good thing about Chris Johnson’s season is that he could wrap his career bWAR up into a really tidy 0.0 total with another spectacularly bad few weeks. Could he dip into the negatives in 2015?! Stay tuned to find out! He’s got two more years to do it. With the Braves. Two. More. Years.

  37. @46 I would offer to take one for the team and recap all the games between now and the World Series, but I’d be afraid of Haranging and losing my pixie dust right when I need it most. I’ll settle for Wednesday recaps and hope the Braves can pull off a 27-game winning streak with that.

    Facing a guy with two ML starts under his belt tonight and a guy making his debut tomorrow does not fill me with much confidence for this series. The Braves track record when facing unfamiliar guys is…underwhelming, to say the least.

  38. Gotta keep BJ and Simba’s bats in the lineup.

    Nyah, nyah, nyah: can’t catch J-Hey. Well, maybe they did, but we’ll take it.

  39. Okay, Alex—there’s your run. Make it hold up.

    LOL Rangers. Can’t get an out when Heyward gets picked off. The Braves have their problems, but at least they aren’t the Rangers.

  40. 4 hits, two defensive miscues by the Rangers, and a bad call at first that went our way, all in the same inning…and we scored one run. One run.

  41. Okay, wow, I just realized that I wrote tonight and tomorrow in a previous comment about pitching match ups when I meant tomorrow and Sunday…and then what I was looking at wasn’t even talking about this series. I feel like the Braves offense right now—not firing on all cylinders. I should implement a life rule against blogging while exhausted from unpacking.

    Pickoffs when the Braves get them never get old.

  42. @75 No, but the utter predictability of the Braves losing to the worst team in baseball leaves little inspiration for discussion.

  43. To hell with this team, to hell with Fletcher and Walker, to hell with David Carpenter and to hell with Fredi for not pulling Carpenter after giving up two consecutive base hits and using him in the highest-leverage situation.

  44. The season ended for me when we got swept in San Diego, but this one should probably make even the die hards give up.

  45. Cant wait to see more of Bethancourt next year, he sure has impressed. Btw, someone should tell Chip that the 95mph pitch is called his fastball, not a slider.

  46. I know some will disagree with me, but BJ Upton is tops of my list on most unlikeable braves all time.

    Ill bet Simmons gets out on 2 pitches or less

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