Brewers 5 NL East Champs 0

Since this is my last regular season write up and there was no way the Braves were going to win after Sunday’s celebration, I have decided to go a different direction with my recap. Don’t worry, game five of the World Series is on a Monday. I have a great write up ready for when we win it all!

I love this site. I have read Braves Journal almost every day for over ten years. The great write ups, the thoughtful posts, the fun arguments and the people. You guys are a great bunch, I really mean that.

However, that being said, there is one negative I want to point out. We tend to get into DOOOOOMED Mode really quickly. Granted, there are time that it is warranted and I am not calling everyone out. Well, maybe I am a little.

That being said, I am going to take the positive route. I like this team. It is one of my favorite Braves teams ever. In fact, I would put them up there with the 1991 and 1995 teams. They are fun to watch and never give up.

I know the last month or so the Braves have taken their foot off the gas some. That’s fine with me. I think Gonzalez has given guys rest and found more ABs for his bench bats. He has been resting the starting pitchers while not taxing the bullpen. This is going to help us next week.

This team has also shown they can turn it on when they need to. After the All Star Break when we got our clocks cleaned by the White Sox, we moved Heyward to the leadoff spot and took off. The early season games with Washington. The games in May with LA. The late inning rallies.  

There is so much here to like. Plus, we have the best record in the league and no one is talking about us. We have a winning records against all of the NL foes we will see. While we may have a few flaws, so do they. The Cards struggle against lefties, we have already dominated the Dodgers bullpen, Teahran almost no hit the Pirates, the Reds have Dusty Baker.

What do past experiences have to do with this team? Mark Wholers, Kirby Puckett, Jim Leyritz, Eric Gregg and Jack Morris won’t be there. In fact, I think the only past playoff moment that comes into play is last year. These guys remember that. They are hungry. The fans are hungry and now passionate. Coming to The Ted starting next week is going to be hard.

I am very excited about our chances. You should be too. Why not? There is a lot of luck in the post season and we have a guy nicknamed El Oso Blanco. How cool is that?

98 thoughts on “Brewers 5 NL East Champs 0”

  1. Well said!

    Playoffs??? Are you talking about playoffs????

    Well, yes. Yes, we are. And it’s fun knowing that we’re overlooked and underappreciated by those Twits in Bristol.

  2. “I know the last month or so the Braves have taken their foot off the gas some.”

    Actually, what has happened the last month is that the Braves’ offense has been terrible. Over the last 30 days, the Braves’ wRC+ is 85, 11th in the NL (ahead of only the Marlins, Mets, Cubs and Padres). Freeman and Simmons have been worth a combined 2.3 WAR in that time period, the rest of the offense has tallied a grand total of -0.3 WAR.

    “This team has also shown they can turn it on when they need to.”

    Nope – the offense has simply been streaky. There’s no evidence that the Braves “turned it on” and chose to start winning. If that were the case, you’d think they would have “turned it on” recently in order to keep home field advantage. Instead, we’re getting regularly shut down by middling starters.

    The 2013 Braves have had a dominant offense for stretches this year. Right now they are unacceptably bad. Let’s hope they hit a hot streak at the right time.

  3. It’s funny how Manuel become the scapegoat and the real villain for the Phillies is still there, being dumb. The team needed to sell, but Amaro wouldn’t at the trade deadline because he laughably thought they were still in it.

    Guess that’s good for the Braves in the future, though.

  4. The way that Amaro turned Manuel into his scapegoat was pretty brazen, and Manuel was having none of it, announcing at his press conference that he never quit on the team and that he was fired by a front office that wouldn’t add players.

    Cholly wasn’t a great manager, but I bet he’d still be a great hitting coach. I’d hire him in a second to work with some of our guys.

  5. It’s funny how Manuel become the scapegoat and the real villain for the Phillies is still there, being dumb.

    The value of being in charge is that you can fire someone who reports to you for your own incompetence.

  6. The 2013 Braves have had a dominant offense for stretches this year. Right now they are unacceptably bad. Let’s hope they hit a hot streak at the right time.

    I agree with your points about not attributing to bad internet pseudo-psychology what can be attributed to random variation. I really dislike the “they are losing because they’re not trying hard enough to win” trope. Baseball, nor anything else in life, is driven by Green Lantern magic. You can’t really bring Tinkerbell back to life by just “believing harder.” MLB teams rarely win or lose due to “lack of effort.”

    That said, the “unacceptably bad” streak has coincided with injuries to key players on the offense.

  7. Plus a couple other key players on the offense have had historically bad seasons to date. I hold out hope (very irrational hope, no doubt) that one or both might at least get a couple key hits in the playoffs.

    This is not a good offense compared to some of the better Braves teams of yore. What this team does have is a lineup of seven or eight guys that can take you deep. Running into a few against Kershaw or Wainwright might be the only way we can win. The odds of us stringing together like four hits in an inning are very very very small against any of the playoff pitchers we’ll face.

  8. @17, 1995 wasn’t a great offense either (compared to our really good ones), but they only played 144 games. Given that our best hitting teams didn’t win it all either, maybe runs-scored isn’t predictive of much of anything in the postseason. I do think it’s a crapshoot, and that we have as good a chance as ever this year.

  9. Actually, what has happened the last month is that the Braves’ offense has been terrible. Over the last 30 days, the Braves’ wRC+ is 85, 11th in the NL (ahead of only the Marlins, Mets, Cubs and Padres). Freeman and Simmons have been worth a combined 2.3 WAR in that time period, the rest of the offense has tallied a grand total of -0.3 WAR.

    One of the problems has been that Chris Johnson’s… regression. No, seriously. Since August 1st he has a .353 BABIP, still well-above league average but more in line with his career mark of .363. That has led to a .299/.332/.441 slash, which is ok but, again, in line with his career mark of .291/.329/.439. Basically, Chris Johnson has become who we thought he was: a batting average-dependent good hitter whose poor defense and baserunning limit his overall value.

    Now, there’s nothing wrong with that, per se. Chris Johnson has his uses, and I’ll be the first to admit that I was wrong about him this season. He has provided above-average value at 3B. He should be the starting 3B, regression or not. Obviously. But the issue with “Regression’s” regression is that it means somebody else has to pick up the slack – and so far, considering Heyward’s injury and McCann’s recent suckitude, not enough folks have. So hopefully Heyward comes back strong and McCann figures something out.

  10. @16, if it helps any, I suspect the first period in the quote should not be there – how could Amaro be commenting on events of the game in past tense prior to it’s occurence?

    “We talked a lot about it,” Amaro said before the game. “He said he’s ready to pitch, and he pitched. He wanted to pitch. We weren’t going to hold him back, especially if the doctor said he couldn’t do any damage. . . . He’s still getting paid, he should pitch.”

  11. @22, you are presuming again that his current arc is permanent. He had a dip in May too, and unregressed thereafter.

  12. @23, I think that his comment was on whether Roy Halladay should pitch in the game that he was about to pitch in — the doctors cleared him and said that he wouldn’t be able to hurt himself any more, and Roy wanted to go, so hey, why not.

    Now, in retrospect, and at all times past and future, it sounds stupid. But it is less shockingly coldhearted than it would have been if he’d said it afterwards.

  13. Perhaps. I ought to email the author for verification, because the tense thing makes no sense otherwise. If they were referring to a previous start in which he was uninjured, why have this conversation?

  14. I guess I can go along with you that one of the problems has been Chris Johnson’s regression, but there are several other things that have been about 10x worse:

    1) Losing Heyward as a leadoff hitter
    2) Schafer’s regression
    3) Uggla’s regression and being replaced by Elliot Johnson – this was an actual upgrade!
    4) BJ’s ongoing sucktitude
    5) Justin’s mediocrity (there has been recent improvement – let’s hope it continues)
    6) Ineptness of the bench, except for Elliot Johnson! (Not that he’s tearing it up or anything, but it beats Joey T’s 0 for 20)
    7) Bullpen leakage
    8) Mediocrity of starting pitching

    I agree that someone needs to pick up the slack, but right now the only slack picker upper is Elliot Johnson (compared to the other guys above). He is not the guy we need to depend on!

  15. Nobody on the team is really hitting except for Freeman. We also don’t want the September version of McCann. We need Summer-McCann back post haste.

  16. Elliot Johnson’s OPS as a Brave is .655. He hasn’t been a plus, and he hasn’t impressed me defensively by the eye test. He’s just meh. Fredi is playing him too much.

  17. @14 I really dislike the “they are losing because they’re not trying hard enough to win” trope.

    Thank you! I get so fucking tired of reading that stupid nonsense any time they aren’t on a hot streak.

  18. McCann historically fades over the course of a full season, correct? It certainly seems that way according to the stats I can find and the eye test. Don’t count on him for much offense in October.

  19. @28, add Gattis to the list.

    Here are the 2nd half #s pulled from Fangraphs.
    I don’t see what playing Gattis is buying over BJ, once you factor in defense.

    Player BA/OBP/SLG
    Laird .175 .261 .225
    Uggla .136 .299 .242
    Gattis: 198/.245/.369
    BJ .207 .280 .270
    Schafer .168 .250 .208

  20. Atlanta Braves Lineup
    1.CF: Jason Heyward
    2.RF: Justin Upton
    3.1B: Freddie Freeman
    4.LF: Evan Gattis
    5.C: Brian McCann
    6.SS: Andrelton Simmons
    7.2B: Dan Uggla
    8.3B: Elliot Johnson
    9.SP: Freddy Garcia

  21. You know what? You guys are right. This team has no chance in the postseason. In fact, they suck. There is no explanation for the fact that they just won the division going away. None. They don’t belong in the playoffs, and there’s no possible outcome to even consider other than that they’ll get swept in three straight. Anybody who thinks otherwise or has paid attention to a single good thing the Braves have done this year is a sunshine-pumping nincompoop.

    I’m frankly not even convinced they’re gonna make the postseason. I know they’ve already clinched, but this team is so inept that after 2011, I’m not comfortable that this team will actually manage to hold onto their mathematically impenetrable lead. Surely Fredi Gonzalez will manage to single-handedly lose at least three games that they’ve already won. Even if they somehow win the World Series (HA HA HA HA HAH HAHA HAHAH…oh, the hilarity), I’m pretty sure MLB will find a way to come back a week later, or two weeks later, or six months later, or 20 years later and retroactively nullify it. So given that I know for a fact that’s going to happen, I refuse to be anything but pessimistic about this team’s chances. We all know they’re actually 0-162 anyway (or however the hell many games they’ve played thus far…I refuse to count backwards a very small amount), and that every victory has come with smoke and mirrors.

    Why is anybody the slightest bit excited?

  22. I hate the old “the Braves are chokers, so they’ll blow it again this year” line.

    As if what Keith Lockhart did in the 1998 NLCS is in any way relevant to the current team.

  23. @32

    McCann slumped in September 2010, hitting only about .220, but he hit over .400 in the NLDS. Don’t count him out.

  24. @39, what did that guy do in 1998 that was bad? Main goat was the overall offense?

    For goats, I recall Kerry Lightenberg allowing a GWHR in G1, Galarraga leaving the tying run at 2nd in the 10th…

    and Danny Bautista (for dropping a fly ball in g6 that allowed the only runs to score).

  25. The main problem with [name redacted] is that he was got more than 1500 plate appearances with the Braves from 1997-2002 and managed a .671 OPS in the absolute height of the steroid era — during those six seasons, the NL as a whole had a .755 OPS — while playing decent but not Rafael Belliard-level defense. He was a replacement player who got absurdly frequent playing time.

    By comparison, this year, the NL has a .705 OPS, and Dan Uggla has a .678 OPS.

  26. I’m generally a baseball optimist. I couldn’t really bother to watch/listen/pay attention if I actually expected my team to fall on its sword in the season’s biggest games. I always look forward to them.

    Unfortunately, we’ve seen nearly a generation’s worth of horror-movie-bad or WTF/bizarre endings. I’ll keep watching & rooting, but at this point there’s almost no post-season indignity (or pennant-race misery) that I haven’t already endured.

    And, really, who the hell knows what’s going to happen? There’s just no accounting for post-season performances from the likes of Al Weis or Pat Borders or Rick Dempsey. And with the extra post-season rounds, MLB (for better or worse) is now like the Stanley Cup playoffs: If you’re in, you have a chance to win. Your good guys can be crap & your crap guys can be heroes.

    BTW, Lockhart wasn’t a bad offensive performer in the post-season, but there were a couple of key playoff moments when his limited range at 2B was on display for the world to see.

  27. @41 and 36 that 98 team killed me. We all love Bobby but did [name redacted] have pictures of him to get so many critical ABs or was Bobby just critically hampered by a selection bias of the few big hits he got. And Danny Bautista’s name should be banned as well. I remember driving down from SC that day and thinking with Glavine on the mound this game was a lock just to see us lay a Terdoslovich on the field. Shudder.

    Are we really about to make Freddy Garcia our #4 starter ? Need a sweep in the NLDS

  28. @35: The Atlanta Braves have had the easiest schedule of all 30 teams, they’ve had major injuries to key players, and have serious holes in their lineup thanks to the suckitude of several highly paid players. It’s not cray cray to be concerned about their postseason chances.

    Moreover, the purpose of this site is for Braves fellow travelers to come together and share their thoughts about the team. Often these thoughts are worries and disappointments. Sometimes they are joyous. Often they are funny–Braves fans (at least the ones hanging out here) are a smart, witty bunch. I enjoy hearing other fans express my own worries–it makes me feel less alone. No one is saying “Abandon all hope.”

    EDIT: And as for Lockhart, I think he came to symbolize all of our many frustrations with post-season Bobby.

  29. So who else heard Caray and Simpson saying they hope Garcia gets to start for the Atlanta Braves in the postseason, because he’s a “veteran presence”?

    I think I am going to be ill.

  30. The fact that we’ve had the easiest strength of schedule means precisely squat. Like, it could not mean less. Especially since our record against playoff teams is very good. This isn’t college football. We’ve played everybody in the league.

  31. Mark Lemke would have been a World Series MVP if Lonnie Smith paid better attention or Kent Hrbek hadn’t been a goon. Mark Lemke. You never know. #ManifestDestiny

  32. “The reality of the team not going to the playoffs hit the Nationals like a ton of bricks.”

    That has to be the slowest falling bricks ever known.

  33. @24

    I probably should have just let it be explanatory. Basically, my main point is that CJ has gone to helping carry the offense to becoming Chris Johnson, 2010-12. Without .450 BABIP CJ the Braves need Heyward and McCann – or, hey, BJ or Uggla – to pick up some slack. Hopefully they’ll all hit in October. I mean, it’s a single month and anything is possible.

  34. Maybe Harper, with his team down by one run going into the final inning last night, and needing a win to stay alive, shouldn’t have hit a really weak grounder on the first pitch to start the ninth. Way to get that rally going.

  35. @59 This is the kind of a team that has to go through a long period of .500 before they go onto winning 10+ games in a roll. I am glad the .500 are happening now rather than a week later.

  36. Runs, please.

    EDIT: With Elliot Johnson and Jordan Schafer, I should make that a singular “run,” and even that is too much to ask.

  37. God, I’m sick of these pathetic los…oh wait…

    EDIT: I won’t even be upset if Washington is so pouty that they get no-hit tonight. That’ll just be hilarious.

  38. One out away

    EDIT: And he loses the no-hitter on an infield single with two out in the ninth…brutal. Well Washington, how about winning this game now?

  39. @80 It’s not possible to win a world series with that record, right? The worst you can do is 11-8.

    And I think Garcia will indeed be our fourth starter in the playoff.

  40. Not sure how expensive Garcia will be next year if he pitches well in post season, but he makes more sense as SP depth than Maholm

  41. If we play the Reds I still think it should be Maholm in Game 4. Choo, Votto, and Bruce aren’t nearly as good against LHPs.

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