Braves 3, D-Backs 1

Of all the things that Matt Wisler could have done while making his first start in a month, he managed to accomplish the least likely, twirling six no-hit innings and finishing with a line of eight innings pitched and one run allowed on two singles and three walks against four strikeouts. Perhaps the most amazing thing of all is that Wisler needed only 103 pitches to go eight innings. It may not have been a perfect start, but for a player whom Coppolella called up publicly, whom some of us had begun to give up on, it’s hard to imagine a more welcome sight.

Inciarte went 2-5 at the top of the lineup, and is quietly having a really nice year. After he missed the first month of the season and had a terrible May, he’s hitting .298/.350/.407 since June 1, which is spot what you want out of the leadoff spot, and he’s been doing it with his typical very good defense. An RBI single by Freddie Freeman, a groundout by Nick Markakis, and an RBI double by Gordon Beckham (?) accounted for all the Atlanta scoring.

Wisler isn’t going to go eight innings his next time out, and he isn’t a number one starter. But he’s probably better than he looked in June and July, and even though this was just one game, it went a long way toward re-establishing himself as a part of the Braves’ long-term future. Good for him.

79 thoughts on “Braves 3, D-Backs 1”

  1. It’s way too early to give up on Wisler, but it’s right to call him out. It took the likes of Millwood and Schmiht a while to establish themselves in the major. While neither Folty nor Wisler will be a super-star, I believe they both will be fine major league pitchers.

  2. FYI I’m down here in ATL for the Southeastern Accounting Show at the Galleria and the keynote yesterday was Chip Moore CFO of the Braves. He mostly spoke about the new ballpark but at the end he showed a picture of the progress at Suntrust Park and noted that all that was left on the field was port a potties, which should tie in with the product we see on the field now at turner Field. Ouch.

    Also he noted that the reported date (April 13, 2017) of the first home game next year is incorrect.

  3. @4
    That’s good to know on the date as I’ve already put in for off time. Worthy of note outside of the MLB is Rio Ruiz is coming along nicely but finding next to no success against LHP (.513 OPS against LHP, .844 againts RHP). If Braves don’t find a regular 3B, Ruiz and Adonis could be a pretty good platoon.

    More in the Minors:
    Jed Bradley- 7IP 5H 4BB 6K 1ER
    Povse through 7 innings w/ 2ER, 4K 1BB
    Albies went 2-4, 1 being a double, and a SB
    Demeritte- 2-4 1HR, 1BB
    Touki- 6 IP, 5H, 3BB 9K
    Dilmer- 4IP 1H 2K

  4. The thing about the two Swanson plays that impressed me was the speed of his release and the arm strength – certainly looks like they made the right selection putting him at SS.

    So far so good. Looks like a really high floor guy – maybe a little like Freeman, but it’s early…

  5. Here’s what Longenhagen has to say about Dansby’s glovework:

    …He [has] enough range for SS. His defensive footwork is exceptional, aided by a freaskish foot-to-ground contact ratio befitting an NFL corner. He has an above average arm and I think he’ll be a plus defender at short despite lacking the explosiveness and acrobatics typically associated with that kind of glove at short because he’s so technically proficient.

  6. If Wisler isn’t going to miss bats, he’d better keep the ball on the ground where Dansby can field it like he did last night. Eat it, Dbacks.

  7. Watching Dansby play short after suffering with Aybar for 120 games is a revelation. Aybar had about 4 feet in either direction

  8. I mean if he plays SS like last night we’re in really good shape. The bat will add power as he gets older and bigger. Compared to Aybar he’s Ozzie Smith.

  9. Port a Potty comparisons aside, I really liked the effort level from the team last night: Enciarte, Adonis, Dansby–above all, Freeman (wow!) seem to want to play some baseball.

    Should recognize Jace in this regard as well. There ARE some puzzle pieces around that can work if we get pitching in place.

  10. As proud of Matt Wisler’s performance as possible. He said he was told to work on his change in the suburbs, which could explain the inflated numbers there. Whatever he was working on came together last night.

  11. 12—Right, the point is that whatever misgivings about his range you may have should not equate to misgivings about the total defensive package. Like, one may have been skeptical of, for example, Gary Sheffield’s bat waggle, but one also had to acknowledge that his hitting produced runs.

  12. “a freaskish foot-to-ground contact ratio”

    What does this mean? I’m sporting a 100% foot-to-ground contact ratio at this very moment, but please don’t hit a ball to me.

  13. That quick release, especially in the first highlight (which was the best of the three) was a thrill to see. Accuracy and a quick release can make up for a lot of arm strength shortcomings, though my impression is that Dansby also has a pretty strong arm.

    That was a pretty cool video. Makes up for his debut start where I recall he didn’t have a single chance in the game.

  14. The quick release comes from a mechanism that so many shortstops across the bigs simply do not have when fielding backhands, and that is that the throwing hand travels with the glove hand so there’s no transition from glove to throwing hand, therefore. Honestly this saves 2/10 of a second and that is HUGE when the fastest runners can get to 1B in 3.5 seconds.

    Another skill in his bag, and Andrelton has this as well, is that there’s no wasted time in his plant and throw. No field, take an extra step, throw. He’s already in throwing position when he fields the ball, especially on the backhand which is why those plays look so smooth and easy for him.

  15. Lack of strike outs is alarming, but Wisler was locating three pitches all night (until I went to bed in the 7th, I guess). If he keeps putting his curve and change knee-high on the outside corner, then he’ll be just fine. I also liked his play on the groundball that kicked off his glove. Everybody showed up to play last night.

    I’m not really worried about Swanson’s range. He’ll get to more than his fair share of balls, he’ll make plays on the ones he gets to with more regularity, and his quick hands and strong arm will more than make up for anything. The dude is a talent.

  16. I recall that Cal Ripken’s range was questioned when he first transitioned to short – but a strong, accurate arm allowed him to play deeper than most other shortsatops, which gave him a bit more range. It appears that Dansby may be able to do the same – play a bit deeper to allow that extra tenth of a second to recognize a grounder, which is equivalent to more range.

    Or, maybe I’m a doofus.

  17. Yeah, I’m just curious to see how he rates over a full season. Range isn’t as easy to gauge as hands, footwork and release. IRC that’s why minor league stolen bases are used in many projections even if the act of stealing bases doesn’t play that huge of a role in value most of the time.

    We’ll find out soon enough whether he’s more of a Jeter or a Ripken out there. He’s a very good bet to hit, and he has the hands and arm to be versatile. I’m not too worried.

  18. @26, Nice breakdown, ryan c.

    My memory is vague but wasn’t Cal Ripken noted for an uncanny ability for positioning? He seemed to be able to calculate in his head the likelihood of where a ball was going to be hit based on all available factors and play there. This may have made up for whatever range liabilities he might have had? I dunno…I think I remember hearing that a while back.

  19. Holy cow, dWAR likes Cal Ripken. Probs with historical defense measurement aside, he racked up 34.6 dWAR in his career and had 4 seasons of 3.4 dWAR or more. He replaced arguably the GOAT defensive SS (arguably) in Belanger who racked up 39.4 dWAR. Ozzie had 47.8; Vizquel had 28.4. Needless to say, none of those guys could hit like Ripken.

  20. @30
    From what I recall, he played off of his pitchers’ tendencies a lot. No doubt he was way ahead of the shift curve.

  21. Dansby is a big step forward for a team that has had a black hole at SS this year.

    Braves position players are on pace to produce about 9.2 WAR this season with 2B, SS, 3B, and C on pace to combine for -2. I’m hopeful that Dansby and Ozzie can turn the middle infield into a net positives. I think I’d make 3B the next priority, but the FO keeps saying C and I wonder who the targets are.

    Pitching is another story, but I continue to have hope some of our guys will take steps forward next year in addition to whatever veteran FA additions there are.

  22. Tyler Flowers .269/.363/.437 116 OPS+

    Quietly having a really good season. Hope he can stay on the field more next season.

  23. Agreed on Recker. However, I think he has a much higher probability of turning into a pumpkin than Flowers.

  24. The Braves now have 89 homers on the season. That’s not good, but given the pace of homeruns in the first half of the season, it’s a miracle that we have an opportunity to hit 100 homeruns as a team.

  25. #35
    Ozzie (& Andrelton now) just seemed head & shoulders above the pack. The athleticism was what most remember–so many crazy flat-out stabs in the hole where he got up & threw somebody out. You’d just say to yourself, “Well, nobody else does that.” He was like a ballet dancer.

    Thing about Andrelton, though, is that his arm is better than Ozzie’s, so… Only guy I remember with an arm like that was Shawon Dunston, the old Cubs SS.

    With Ozzie & Andrelton, the range is just so noticeable to both sides. It wasn’t as noticeable with Ripken because he always seemed to be positioned in the right place. In his prime, he was so fundamentally perfect, it was kinda amazing.

    Belanger was freaky because he was so tall, but the Belanger/Dave Johnson DP combo was pretty deft. In fact, the defense on those great ’60s/’70s Baltimore teams was outrageous. With Brooks Robinson at 3B, Belanger at SS & Paul Blair in CF… I mean, hard to be better than that.

    BTW, another somewhat underrated SS was Larry Bowa. Played on turf, but incredible hands.

  26. Supposedly Andruw used to watch the signs the catcher was giving the pitcher (especially Maddux) and knowing what pitch was coming he would be able to predict where the ball would go if the hitter made contact so that is how he always seemed to get such a great jump. I wonder if Ripken did something similar. As a SS or CF it would probably mean you would need to know the tendencies of the guy pitching and the guy hitting so I could see how the average player might not be able (or willing) to keep up with all of that.

  27. Greatest release of all time. Has to be Ozzie, no? Watching him play, he was so fast it seemed the ball was already on its way to first but my mind hadn’t even caught up to him cleanly fielding the ball.

  28. Touki Toussaint:

    April-May: 43 IP, 24 K, 28 BB, 6.28 ERA

    June-August: 83 IP, 97 K, 39 BB, 2.82 ERA

    That June-August line is nearing elite level

  29. I know we are talking about SS. But I think Inciarte is a keeper. When I saw him in play in Cincy he made some tough chances look easy. His current offensive surge is fueled by a big BABIP but I think he is better than Mallex.

  30. @46, I’m with you and it seems like trading Mallex + pitching prospects for a single good player might be a nice way to help with our 40-man roster crunch.

    A lot of people think we trade Markakis and play Inciarte/Mallex/Kemp in the OF. That seems like a horrible plan to me.

  31. Touki would be elite without all those walks. That still needs meaningful improvement.
    I read an old interview with Recker. Seems like a nice guy who has been a late bloomer at every stage of baseball he’s played at, and has not gotten a whole lot of playing time. I’m rooting for him to turn out to be a legit MLB backup catcher for a few years. He had legit minor league numbers from 2008 through 2011, then started yo-yoing between AAA and MLB for several teams, struggling everywhere. The odds are against him, but if he could just hit .250 with some pop that’s about all it takes to be a backup catcher.

  32. @45, 4.22 BB/9, unless I mathed incorrectly, meh.

    A 10.52 K/9 does right a lot of wrongs. He clearly figured something out.

  33. AAG has to be up there for release speed. Had no idea how good a defensive SS he was before the Braves got him.

    So…no ideas on foot-to-ground?

  34. I think the Braves have 3 pretty good pieces in Jace Peterson, Mallex, and Adonis. I personally think we should consider trading all 3 and possibly others for a starting pitcher or 3rd baseman. As fun as it’s been to watch the growth of Garcia at 3rd, I think we can do a lot better than a .713 OPS at 3rd. Chris Johnson also proved that we could do a lot worse!

  35. Cakes has played well of late, afield and at bat. I think he’s recuperated fully and is worth keeping. I’d shuck Kemp before Nick, but Markakis would doubtlessly FETCH a better return. I like Mallex, but he might be doomed to be the fourth outfielder here.

  36. I agree with you, coop. Markakis has finally come along quite nicely. He has even hit a fair amount of home runs, close to his career average now.

  37. Do you think it’s fundamentally accurate that if you were to consolidate all of the different factors that would influence trades, you could create a 1-10 rough valuing system for each asset that the Braves could potentially trade. You remove all of the intangible and impossible to value things like quantity of trade partners, available payroll of trade partners, how the particular players fits into the Braves’ plans, how much you like the player, etc. and just reduce it down to a relative value system on the open market. For instance, Clayton Kershaw, for this exercise would have a value of 9-10. Same deal for all of your transcendent talent that is untouchable. Freddie Freeman would be an 8, as another example. So if you wanted to trade for that asset, you would have to give up assets that value up to 8. My goal is to shut out all of the noise in discussing trade proposals and just get down to what value on the open market each asset has. Cash also can have a value, but it may exceed 10 once the Braves identify how much cash is available.

    Freeman would be an 8. Teheran would be a 6. Using lower value assets, I would say Mallex is a 1, Markakis is a 2, Jace is a 2, Swanson is a 5, Albies is a 4, Folty is a 1. Wisler is a .75, Whalen is a .5. Jenkins is a .5. If we have $40M to spend in the offseason, you would value the cash at about a 12 or so.

    Do you see where I’m going with this? My goal is to assign a simple value to everything, add up that number, and really see what you’d have if you decide to start shifting assets around.

  38. Rob, how bout you make a spreadsheet of all that stuff and we will mercilessly criticize it.

    @48, 49: Yeah, that’s why I said near elite. He needs to shave off 1.5 walks per 9 innings and hold the K rate to have elite peripherals.

  39. @56

    That’s what I’m going to do, but I wouldn’t to see if the concept even made sense. The merciless critique will be a force to be reckoned with.

  40. @55, So we should try to trade Markakis to an opposing team and receive a package with the equivalent of Mallex Smith and Mike Foltynewicz? Sounds good to me! Get ‘er done! Or do I have this right?

  41. It’s basically fantasy baseball, except it’s 1-10 instead of dollar currency. And the lower you go, the harder it will be to separate the .5’s from the 1’s from the 2’s.

    Might wanna go 1-20 to spread out the valuations.

  42. It’s tough. These things aren’t really linear. If you had Clayton Kershaw, would you trade him for 2 pitchers as good as Julio Teheran? I wouldn’t.

    I wouldn’t trade Mallex Smith or Folty (let alone both!) for a player as good as Nick Markakis, especially not owed the money he is.

  43. I have lived in a world without the word “inphalangables,” and I don’t ever want to go back.

  44. The whole, Clayton Kershaw, is greater than the sum of its parts (Two Julios).

    Great task you’ve set for yourself, Rob. Evaluating the non math stuff is what you’re seeking to remove, yet five plus five is somehow less than ten. Good luck. I’m fascinated to see where you’ll end up with this, and the journey itself will be rewarding.

  45. @65, no you’re not. That would mean you’d have to send money or prospects with them in a trade to break even. Kemp currently has negative value. Markakis is probably slightly positive, but not by much. He could probably be traded for a player as good as Jenkins.

  46. Yeah I’m not saying they totally suck, it’s just that their contracts make it so that we won’t get anything back for them unless we throw in money and other prospects. I don’t know why we’d really want to do that. They probably are better off staying put.

    We need pitching anyways, so I’m content with waiting until 2017 offseason to address the offense.

  47. Yeah, I’m off on Markakis. He probably has close to zero or even negative value. It’s had to know what a .740 OPS 32-year old with murky defense on a $11M per deal with two years left is worth. That’s why knowing the market is imperative to this task. I am up to the task.

  48. Nick Markakis from June 15 to Aug 25:

    277 PA, .303/.361/.468 (.829), 8 HR, 17 2B

    That has value. Wish he’d had that stretch in his first 277 PA of this season. Then we’d be in business

  49. Well, you can’t throw all of the team’s problems on Nick Markakis. It’s not his fault that the team is poorly constructed, the things he lacks the team sorely misses, and the things he does well is redundant. That’s not his fault. At the end of the day, how valuable is he on the open market?

    Fangraphs has Markakis valued at almost a full win YTD over Jay Bruce, who is on the last guaranteed year of a contract paying him $12.5M in 2016 and a $1M buyout for 2017. Bruce was traded for two bad minor leaguers at the deadline, so he at least had a higher than zero value. With that said, Bruce was also having a career year at the plate, and the Mets need offense in the worst way.

    Markakis, though, is 15th out of 18 qualifying RFs in WAR, and the ones behind him are downright not good: Souza Jr, Granderson, and Tomas (his series against Atlanta notwithstanding). I would have to say that if Markakis had any objective value, it would be between 0 and 1. You could clear his salary, but you wouldn’t get much else.

    I will get difficult to assign value to the opportunity cost of salary. How much value do you give Markakis knowing that you could do better things with that money? Does that push Markakis higher for this exercise because taking him to the open market allows you to use his resources elsewhere?

    This is going to be a real barn burner. Wish me luck, folks.

  50. I’m not watching (Yahoo Sports update), so can anyone explain how someone can hit a double with a runner on second and the runner only advances to third?

  51. DG:

    That play kinda was actually a mental error on Jace because the easier throw is to second base and he wasn’t there on that play. I wish there was a way to call mental errors. Single and mental error.

  52. @73 and 74: Ok, I misread what was going on. It was the top of the first when Inciarte was thrown out at third. I only saw that the Braves hit two doubles and only had runners on second and third without scoring. False alarm.

  53. Allard’s adjusting to Rome really well now.

    There really should be more love for Max Povse. He’s had 9 starts now at AA: 58 IP, 9 BB, 40 K, 2.47 ERA. K’s are a little low, but he’s got 26 BB in 145 IP this year. He’s getting stretched out, and he throws strikes and works efficiently. He’s really a guy to watch for 2017.

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