Braves ALL THE RUNS!, Marlins LESS THAN ALL (12-2 if you’re counting)

So. Yeah. Didn’t see that coming at all. No sirree, Bob. Did. Not. See. That. Coming. At. All.

Truth be told, I had just turned the telly on to the same channel it was on yesterday, and that was actually FSSO, and then I got distracted by the new delivery of fancy, schmancy local, organic veggies to my door, because friggin’ fresh collard greens dammit! And by the time I realized I was “watching” the Hawks pre-game instead of a baseball game it was already 10 minutes past first pitch. So off I go to find FSN instead, and it’s already 3-0 and there’s only one out and I think “huh, offensive explosion tonight” while Chris Johnson is settling in for his first AB of the year…
 
At that point, it just got silly. Johnson rips the first pitch he sees to the wall (would have been out of most parks) and I post FOUR! to the game thread. Then Andrelton pokes a single and it’s all like SIX! And at that point, I’m really not sure what to do next. This team, I have been told, by reasonable men, is not meant to make with “the scoring.” But hey! Baseball is funny sometimes.

Some degree of attribution probably should go to Mat Latos, who had a crappy spring and followed that up with a sequence of fat, hittable pitches that were in fact hit like fat red-headed kids(*) on the school playground. But somebody had to deliver those body blows, and lo and behold, those someones were your 2015 Who ‘Dat Atlanta Braves Replacement Players. Latos eventually exited after recording only two measly outs (one of which was a sac bunt by Alex Wood.) Brad Hand came in and bailed him out, pitching pretty well for 3+ innings himself.

Jace Peterson continues to make me happy. Neck Markakis continues to not be in traction due to spinal removal surgery this offseason. Christian Bethancourt actually looks like he belongs in a Major League lineup for a change, and even Dorn and The Reason got in on the offensive action. (We should also mention that while Eric Young, Jr is still not a particularly skillful or talented baseball player, it’s amazing how much better “replacement level” is when compared to Melvin Upton’s last two seasons.)

The only smudge on the evening for the Braves was the fact that Alex Wood struggled when given the big lead. He was wild and ineffective early, loading the bases with none out in the first. But he got Mike Morse to go fishing for a fastball off the outer edge (not contact hitting!) and then induced Martin Prado to bounce into a 5-4-3 double play to end the threat unscathed. But Wood wasn’t on all night, and he fought it hard for his five innings of work. Brandon Cunniff came in to preserve a 5 run cushion in the sixth and wasn’t terrible. Cody Martin came in and made short work of the sixth and seventh, before giving way to Juan Jaime and his absolute lack of knowledge as to where his 95+ MPH heat is actually going out of his hand. Fredi used the big cushion to break in three rookies, and got solid work from two of them. Jaime instilled little confidence, though.

All told, good night for the local boys. The team is two games into the season and hasn’t sucked yet, and for the record, your 2015 Atlanta Braves currently sit in sole possession of the NL East as of today. Mets are a half game back. Magic number is 160.

Shelby Miller gets his Braves debut tonight against Tom Koehler. General Miami baseball game times.

(*)I am neither justifying bullying or fat shaming our children. Or your children. As my children are dogs, and a geriatric cat who’ll cut you if you look at her wrong. Or gingers. Because that would be mean and wrong. But seriously, a little outside time probably wouldn’t hurt. And maybe gingers. I mean, c’mon! If you can’t punch a ginger, the terrorists have won…

140 thoughts on “Braves ALL THE RUNS!, Marlins LESS THAN ALL (12-2 if you’re counting)”

  1. Does anyone remember the “kill a commie for Christ” days? I think Sam started those.

    Great start. Keep it going tonight, Shelby.

    P.S. Great write-up, Mr. H.

  2. Nice recap, Sam. The Who Dat Braves are a fine bunch so far.

    @blazon previous thread

    I think that if Steve Kettmann wants to discourage stat-checking at games he shouldn’t tell everyone to bring a scorebook to the games in his second sentence. And that if he’s really concerned about the art of baseball writing he should either write with more grace, beauty or thought. Just another trite opinion piece dashed off at the deadline…how does that help anyone?

    As far as your sentiments: You’re the best, blazon; everybody tells you so, and everybody means it. And things are better here when it’s more collegial, as I’ll (try to) keep in mind. But I’m not sure we have a stats-over-writing problem, or a lack of appreciation for the little moments in the game. We just had a months-long Andrelton Simmons appreciation project; we live and die on the boards with the games; we like Jace Peterson for pete’s sake!

  3. From the end of the last thread…

    As for me, I think there is a case to be made for the pleasures of fandom separate from being an armchair GM, but every time I see a writer trying to make that case it comes off as nostalgic drivel and anti-intellectualism.

    Very well said, ralphdibny!

  4. from the previous thread..

    Be nice,guys (copyright AR)

    …Alex, once again, the other day, you exhibited your mastery over the occasional warring factions on these pages with your use and careful placement of these now well known three words…perfect, they could not be improved upon…so much more gracious than STFU…

    …in this instance though i am concerned that, intentionally or not, its positioning this time seemed to embrace, int al, an entirely appropriate and proper adjective used here by one poster attempting to berate another for something said, unsaid, or said too often…i refer of course to ‘tedious’…

    in the context of a blog you certainly cannot term it a personal attack..nor is it a compliment of course…it’s a perfect choice if you come to the conclusion that someone is going on and on…and on…when you come to know in advance what they’re going to say but they still say it…

    it is classy…it’s one of those words not used as often as it should be…scarcity value adds to impact but in no way below the belt…

    it’s funny, has an element of humor in it…perfect for pulling a fellow down a rung or two while maintaining good will with the readership in general…and the object of your bombast might even be forced into a smile himself..

    so, please, let’s not exclude it from our permitted glossary here…i don’t want to go on about this again, it gets tedious.

  5. I read Kettman’s article on the train this morning and I’m happy to see people already discussing it. I almost never read NYT readers’ comments, but these two work for me:

    “Dude, don’t think about numbers if you don’t want to. Problem solved.
    Or is your problem really that I appreciate the game in a way you don’t approve of? Or do you really think that people invest the time it takes to appreciate advanced analytics of guys throwing a ball around as anything other than a labor of love?
    Not everyone is intimidated by numbers, or even acronyms. I thought the industry had gotten past this anti-intellectual dead horse beating.”

    and

    “Mr. Kettmann may be shocked to find out there is more than one way to enjoy a baseball game. What strawman is he arguing against? Who is forcing him to look at baseball only through the lens of stats? That’s something even the most dedicated of dedicated sabermetricians don’t do. Please.”

    By the way: the other comments are all complete crap.

  6. There would be some irony if *this* team scraped into the WC2 and went on a run…

  7. And maybe a little…gritty. They get their uniforms dirty. They know how to play the game. They’re baseball players. They play hard. They never give away at bats. They do the little things. They play with heart…

  8. But not like, old, unattractive Nancy Wilson touring solo because Anne’s on dialysis Heart. Mid-80s super hot Heart.

  9. Steve Kettman is the author of “Baseball Maverick: How Sandy Alderson Revolutionized Baseball and Revived the Mets”

    Well, there you go.

  10. Sandy Alderson was one of the revolutionary baseball guys for numbers, and he did revive the Mets.

  11. Rio Ruiz is now a member of my NL-only dynasty minor-league roster, so I guess I’m officially a Rio Ruiz believer (hoper)!

  12. Maybe Alderson has revived the Mets. But even if I do decide to read a book stating he’s done so because his team might finish 2nd this year, I don’t want to read about how he’s revolutionized the game via statistical analysis in a book written by the same guy who wrote that column.

  13. Juan Jaime strikes me as a cross between Armando Benitez & Ryne Duren. Hope he never develops a drinking problem.

    I never much liked Heart after, say, the “Dog & Butterfly” days, especially the power-ballad-era Heart. But I remember going to a benefit at The Ritz in NYC in the early ’90s (big lineup of “rock luminaries”), walking in the door & hearing the most amazing, booming voice singing some Led Zeppelin cover. My pal & I walk to where we can see the stage and, yep, it was Ann Wilson, wearing a glammy mu-mu, just killing it.

    Can’t say much for those crappy, overwrought MTV songs, but, man, that gal can sing.

  14. @10 LOL! I mean I literally just LOL.
    Forget scrappy, gritty and all that shit. I would prefer the adjective good. But at this point I’d take lucky, fortunate, surprising, blessed or charmed.
    Unanticipated, astonishing, startling, stunning, unforseen. Y’all get the picture.

  15. Rob Neyer wrote an article about 10 years ago comparing traditionalism vs. sabermetrics to creationism vs. evolution. His conclusion was that “they will never see eye-to-eye”

    I’m a ramblin’ wreck engineer by training, so naturally, I like stats, and I used to devour Neyer’s writing on ESPN before SABR was even cool (this was the late 90’s, before moneyball was a thing). His generally condescending tone, however, rubbed me the wrong way. And this particular analogy seemed insulting.

    Despite being acquainted with advanced metrics for about 20 years, I occasionally have disagreements with college-aged SABR acolytes who assume that since I am disagreeing with them, I must be a crusty traditionalist who is too stupid to comprehend SUPER sophisticated concepts like “regression” and “variance”. This isn’t a reaction specific to them–I see the same routinely in political discussions, where disagreeing with a partisan causes them to cast you as a crude caricature of their opponents.

    I once had an argument with a writer at CAC over whether it was possible for a player to choke in the playoffs. His argument was that the sample size isn’t big enough. I explained that choking in a short playoff appearance precluded the possibility of having a large enough sample, and that as the sample expands (more playoff experience), the reduced psychological stress renders additional data irrelevant. He steadfastly maintained that choking doesn’t happen and repeated his sample size argument.

    Baseball players are not robots, and the mere suggestion that psychology isn’t a factor in their performance is patently absurd. That makes sense to most people, but it smacks of anti-intellectual bloviating to some SABR folk. There’s no spreadsheet entry for it (as of yet), so they reject it out of hand. I can see why traditionalists can’t stand statheads. Nobody wants to hear how much smarter than them you think you are, and telling them so is no way to change their opinions–they just dig in deeper and hate you for it.

  16. One underrated aspect of the Braves’ transition between 2014 and 2015: while the team may have suffered a massive downgrade in LF and RF, it appears we may also benefit from (less massive) improvements at 2B and CF, along with likely improvement at 3B (Dorn + Callaspo + ?? can’t possibly be worse than what we got from 3B in 2014). Additionally, Bethancourt’s looked far better (no passed balls so far! he threw out Dee Gordon!) than expected in the early going, and may end up being as valuable as El Oso Blanco was once you figure in defensive contributions. Ultimately, E.Y. Jr. is not going to be the answer in CF, and the Braves still figure to get very little out of LF in 2015, but this offense may actually score close to as many runs as the 2014 squad through sheer avoidance of Uggla and Melvin and (hopefully) the 2014 version of Dorn.

  17. I’m the first to smirk and find happiness in a positive small sample, but can y’all imagine how insufferable the Braves’ state media will be if this team starts 5-1 or something?

    Actually, looking at the schedule, it’s nothing but Marlins and Mets and Phillies (with the odd Blue Jay in there) until nearly the end of the month. A scrappy hot start doesn’t look impossible. The hammer looks to come down around June, per tradition. But the paeans to small-ball that can be written in that time!

  18. @20

    I agree. I call it the Human Factor. Stats are good to tell you what to expect for a season, but in there can be other things. Someone might have a sick kid or stayed out late one night, so on…

  19. @22 – Hey, if we start like, oh, I don’t know, 17-7 or something, we can be lousy for the rest of the year and then pretend that was “contending.” And then when we trade Cameron Maybin and don’t bring back Jason Grilli and Jonny Gomes, we can all moan for months about how we blew up a team that was right on the verge.

  20. @21

    Let’s hope you’re right. I wonder how short Young’s leash is in center now that we have ourselves a Maybin.

    The real tests are these next three games: What does Atlanta look like without Teheran or Wood on the mound?

    @25

    Well what else do you expect us to do in the off-season, play checkers?

  21. @22, I’m fully expecting a winning April and hearing folks talking playoffs. We are good enough to ride pitching and put together winning months. We’re not good enough to avoid a wretched summer swoon. That reminds me–remember how our lineup was “slump proof” at the beginning of 2013?

    @25: LOL

    @26: We looked awfully good without them on the mound last April, but then…

  22. He steadfastly maintained that choking doesn’t happen and repeated his sample size argument.

    The best part about this is that he’s confusing like, three different things and pretending he’s the smart guy in the room. First, an absence of data to prove a phenomenon is not proof of the absence of said phenomenon. “Choking” may very well happen, and it may very well be impossible to show statistically due to sample size issues (compounded as you mention above.) Both of these things are possible to be true AT THE SAME TIME!

    Second, the data shows an absence of “clutch hitting;” i.e. getting better in tight/tense situations. It does not show an absence of “choking;” i.e. getting worse in tight/tense situations. It also shows weak correlation (though still statistically questionable due to sample size issues) between players said to be “clutch” and those who “don’t choke.” In some ways, “clutch hitting” is simply not wilting against top tier competition in stressful game situations. It’s a negatively defined aspect, and it’s not proven to exist or dis-exist.

  23. Has anyone had trouble with MLB.TV streaming video this season? It worked fine last year with my Roku, and I seem to have enough bandwidth. Very frustrating, not to mention being blacked out here in Pensacola, FL. Thanks!

  24. might part of the problem be prospective vs retrospective analysis? i.e. If I want to describe what happened, I might say that a player choked (a term I despise btw) by falling short of their expectation. A view which is arguable.

    When attempting to make a prediction, if one cannot quantify the impact of the choking phenomenon, you must ignore it’s impact on the result.

    The issue with having access to the results, is that we lose sight of the probability inherent in the event.

  25. The previously awesome Braves radio team has already become insufferable after just 2-0. If I hear the phrase “ABC baseball” one more time I might go attack a water cooler, Dorn-style.

  26. Neither EYJ or Maybin have appreciable career splits. Neither is notably better than the other offensively. Maybin is a couple years younger. I don’t expect to see a lot of playing time lost to Maybin in CF by EYJ. I expect to see a heck of a lot of what you’ve seen to date, with Maybin coming in as a defensive upgrade in CF and the LF of the day getting shifted out for EYJ, if we have a lead late.

  27. And mark me down with Alex as “price I’m willing to pay” if the media wax poetic about heart and grit in response to unexpected winning.

  28. I wonder how long it’ll be until mainstream baseball broadcasters co-opt the stathead counterculture.

    My experience has been that it’s the old guard that’s more inclined towards exclusion or insufferable exaltation of their viewpoint — which is basically what we’re talking about, re: Braves broadcasts. And, on the other hand, it’s the stat-inclined fans are tend to have better senses of humor, embrace absurdity/self-mockery, are more inclusive and relatable, etc.

  29. Looking forward to seeing Shelby Miller tonight. If he works out then we have a top 3 that can match up with most. Still don’t see how we ever score, but hey I thought we’d be lucky to score 7 in a series, and here we are scoring 7 in an inning already. Hope that 2015 is the luckiest season ever. We’re certainly due.

  30. That’s brilliant, Sam. Mind if I make a suggestion? You might want to parse the data a bit more to make it more searchable. Perhaps a column for “game outcome” that lists the W/L and a column that records saves, holds, blown saves, etc. Maybe a column like “would Kimbrel have pitched” that is just a Y/N judgement call. Then you could search for games that result in an L where Kimbrel would have pitched. Might be more effort than you’re looking for . . .

    Props on the name, too.

  31. @38, that Marlins defense has to be exhausted after all the pressure we applied in the first two games. I’m expecting a blow out today

  32. For the record I didn’t and still don’t buy the trendy Marlins-will-contend thing. I think it’s the Nationals and then a bunch of dreck. Can we scrap and grit our way to the top of the dreck-pile? That’ll be enough to keep me interested.

  33. Don’t have to beat the Nats. Have to beat the Cubs/Padres/Fish.

    NLE – Nats
    NLC – Cards
    NLW – Dogs
    WC1 – Cubs?
    WC2 – Pads/Fish?

  34. @31: Yes, I think prospective vs. retrospective analysis is a great way to think about it, and about SABR vs. “traditional” fandom in general. Part of what bothers me about the emphasis placed on “fandom as being an armchair GM” is the relentless focus on the future. The media in general focus less and less on telling us what happened yesterday, because it’s really hard to make that story interesting (one of the reasons I like the recaps here so much) and more and more on predicting the future (a much easier task, especially when we won’t hold anyone responsible for their mistaken predictions). Fandom is being pushed more an more toward worrying about the future rather than enjoying the past, and I wish it weren’t so.

  35. Who cares what the media write about early-season success? It’s like the person who can’t wait to get insulted…

  36. @42 Giants?

    But, of course, there are only so many intra-division wins that can go around in the West.

  37. I’d rather enjoy winning than be right about how terrible they are. Some people would rather be miserable and right.

  38. Giants. Mets. Maybe some other team. The point being that there are only two or three teams in the NL who are likely to be notably better than the rest; WAS, STL and LAD. It’s not likely, but this team *could* sneak into WC2 as well as the Royals did last year in the AL.

  39. @37: With rare exceptions (which exceptions surely don’t include Chip or Joe) no sportcasters or sportswriters are in the least interested in co-opting stats. As Bill James memorably said: “Sportswriters, in my opinion, almost never use baseball statistics to try to understand baseball. They use statistics to decorate their articles. They use statistics as a club in the battle for what they believe intuitively to be correct. That is why sportswriters often believe that you can prove anything with statistics, an obscene and ludicrous position, but one which is the natural outgrowth of the way that they themselves use statistics. What I wanted to do was teach people instead to use statistics as a sword to cut toward the truth.” Now lots of statheads do the same thing, of course, but for sportwriters and announcers, it’s practically an occupational prerequisite.

  40. Love the spreadsheet. Just as an aside, technically no one received holds in last night’s game, as the score wasn’t close enough. But I love the idea.

  41. @32

    We are getting the hard sell from the TV and Radio guys.

    I look forward to the countless DOB articles on how “scrappy” this team is. Then in August and September we will get the “Playing harder and better than everyone thought.” There will be quotes from other teams saying: “You have to ignore their record. They play us harder than just about anyone else in the league. With a few breaks, they might be in contention for a Wild Card spot.”

  42. Do these guys have a lifesize cardboard cutout of Frank Wren they are pulling pieces of clothing off for every win?

  43. @36 It obviously won’t be exact, but that should prove a fun exercise in testing the worth of a closer.

  44. @53, I wish we’d had a closer in the 1992 world series–not necessarily Kimbrel, mind, just somebody besides Jeff Reardon

  45. Congratulations, Ryan C. Children are almost as good as grandchildren. Also, Cooper is a great name for a first child.

  46. The real test I want to see is high-dollar closer vs low-budget-closer-by-committee. I don’t think we’ll get that with the Braves. They seem to be big believers in fixed roles out of the pen.

  47. That’s awesome. So glad Toscano is finally here.

    Capellan was an example of a long-standing tendency for the Braves: other than Jason Schmidt and Adam Wainwright, basically every pitching prospect they traded away failed to pan out.

  48. Greetings from Marlins Park. Seeing Andrelton taking ground balls in BP is an absolute beauty.

  49. Bethancourt with an absolute clinic in batting practice. Hitting plenty out of the park.

  50. 59 — Yep, Kolb was a negative so even if Capellan had never pitched again for the Braves it was a loss of a trade. (On the other hand, would Smoltz have been allowed to move back to the rotation?)

  51. @59, @65

    Don’t forget that it ultimately forced us to trade for Kyle farnsworth. That has to be added in

  52. Jason Marquis, Odalis Perez, and Matt Harrison had major league success too, though obviously not to the extent that Wainwright and Schmidt had.

  53. Sweet. Now we get to see how johnny Gomes can will the Braves to victory with grit and hustle and sticktoitiveness

  54. Depending on how much weight Capellan had put on after he left baseball, sleep apnea could have been a factor in his death. Terribly sad news.

  55. @5

    Yeah. I won’t dismiss the premise of his article though. The “hotness” in baseball as of late has been an obsession with stats (some often obscure) that does tend to trend a little too far away from what drew me to the game as an eight-year-old.

    @20

    “Despite being acquainted with advanced metrics for about 20 years, I occasionally have disagreements with college-aged SABR acolytes who assume that since I am disagreeing with them, I must be a crusty traditionalist who is too stupid to comprehend SUPER sophisticated concepts like “regression” and variance.”

    Young people being young people. Everything is right or wrong, black or white. No room for shades of grey.

    Re: choking

    I’ve always felt that the pyschological element of baseball is often ignored or brushed aside by the “young analysts.” I think it’s because it something in baseball that isn’t quantifiable, so not as easily studied.

    @21

    I’ve been a Bethancourt supporter since last season and I think now is when he comes in to his own. He may not, but that’s baseball. I’m hoping for it, and I think he’s the right choice at catcher, for defensive skills alone.

    @22

    I have to smirk at “state media.” Bowman is about as unbiased as the North Korean News Agency. I’m not sure how he has a job but I would love to take it off his hands (and would do the same thing he does).

    @36

    Awesome. An example of why I read this site.

    @37

    “My experience has been that it’s the old guard that’s more inclined towards exclusion or insufferable exaltation of their viewpoint — which is basically what we’re talking about, re: Braves broadcasts. And, on the other hand, it’s the stat-inclined fans are tend to have better senses of humor, embrace absurdity/self-mockery, are more inclusive and relatable, etc.My experience has been that it’s the old guard that’s more inclined towards exclusion or insufferable exaltation of their viewpoint — which is basically what we’re talking about, re: Braves broadcasts. And, on the other hand, it’s the stat-inclined fans are tend to have better senses of humor, embrace absurdity/self-mockery, are more inclusive and relatable, etc.”

    Please. Said every new generation ever. Ever. The old guard wasn’t old guard at one point. Don’t get me wrong, if we’re on the Chip and Joe hatewagon, I’ll drive.

    @52

    I do not, but I often wonder who would play Frank Wren in the biopic. I don’t think Brad Pitt will sign on.

    @68

    I’m not sure why there are other answers besides 162.

  56. I think a couple of things make the small ball approach so seductive. One is that when you score without a hit or with just a single in an inning, it seems so easy in hindsight that you imagine it could happen several times a game. One doesn’t realize how many things had to go just right for it to happen.

    The other is the frustration of power hitters K-ing when they coulda just hit a nubber and scored a runner from third.

  57. Speaking of choking, does anyone remember JD Drew’s 2004 NLDS? He had raked all year and once the playoffs began he was swinging the bat like a wet noodle and missing by 3 feet

  58. @78 Yup, Simmons looked awful in his first AB. Bad process and worse results.

    Also – I have to add, AJP is not very good at pitch framing.

  59. this inning has given me an ulcer

    Crafty Shelby clearing the top of the order like that with 2 out

  60. He’s not very good at anything from what I gather.

    I hope Miller doesn’t get too rattled from this. He’s not really getting hit hard, here…

  61. @84 don’t worry. AJPs value comes when he legs out that bunt to get us into the playoffs

  62. Come on! Just told my wife, who is pretty bored in the stadium next to me so far, that AJP sucks… Really, what do I know.

  63. Just got home from work in time to see Freddie get his hit, and now we have two runs on the board. I appreciate them waiting on me.

  64. 109—It always feels good to be needed. If my sitting in front of MLB.tv on my computer for the next 159 games is what it will take for the Braves to have a perfect season, then I’ll be happy to take one for the team.

  65. I feel like it’s gauche to complain at a point where the Braves are on the cusp of sweeping the Marlins, but could we please bat Simmons towards the bottom of the order?

  66. Not everyone in this order can bat seventh or eighth, no matter how many of them really deserve to.

  67. Seriously, how did we end up with Jim Johnson? That strikeout to Stanton was beautiful.

  68. He was godawful last year, but he seems to have fixed himself.

    It says a lot about the devaluation of the save that a guy with back-to-back 50-save seasons had to settle for a setup gig. I remember when it seemed like Todd Jones got a closing job every season.

  69. Does propane have a song when he comes in from the pen?

    I think there’s a Hank Hill version of “Cocaine” out there somewhere…

  70. I wonder if FSS had to rush around on Sunday to get some new Grilli promos filmed in time for the season to start.

  71. Here’s hoping they make me look like an idiot all year (not that I need their help).

    Shelby Miller wins his first start. Jason Heyward 0-4 in a shutout loss. We’ve won this trade.

  72. This is so unlikely. Good game to watch. Markakis seems to know what he’s doing at the plate. Braves pitching looked so strong. McDowell, Baby!

  73. @120: I don’t think anyone could have predicted seeing the following headline this year: “Francoeur, Harang lead Phillies over Red Sox”

  74. Folks who watched the game–how did Miller look? His high heaters I saw had great movement, but the mlb.com highlight reel only shows about 5 pitches.

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