Braves Sweep Phils, Win Sixth in a Row (by coop)

Dang! Ain’t winning fun? The Braves blew several chances to blow the game wide open, but so did the Phillies. Atlanta’s 2-0 victory produced a series sweep and extended the Braves winning streak to six games.

Julio Teheran was near perfect through four and perfectly lucky in innings five and six, as he made Matt Kemp’s second inning leadoff solo home run stand up for a 1-0 lead. The Phillies loaded the bases in both the fifth and sixth, but Julio escaped.

Freddie Freeman’s 29th homer leading off the eighth provided a little insurance, and Ian Krol and Jim Johnson breezed through the final two frames, striking out five of the six hitters they faced.

The six game streak came against the Padres and Phillies. Keeping it going against the Nationals will be more of a test. Enjoy the train ride to Washington, guys.

94 thoughts on “Braves Sweep Phils, Win Sixth in a Row (by coop)”

  1. Dear Chief,
    I agree with most of what you said, and I’ve been on your side making the same sort of case to a rigid SABR-head before. Having had experience with a few of them, I don’t think anyone here qualifies as an “fWAR acolyte”. And to me, that sort of barb comes across as anti-intellectual philistinism. Or philistine anti-intellectualism.

    Most of the things you’ve said nobody has ever disagreed with, such as that home runs themselves are really, really valuable. Or that it’s impossible to save as many runs with a glove as you can generate with a bat–in fact, I have made that case multiple times. So stop breathlessly reiterating those as if you can’t get the egg heads’ to concede the point.

    The debate is more concisely whether current metrics overrate defense and/or underrate homers (interestingly nobody ever asks whether defense is underrated). Unfortunately, it’s not an argument that can be decided with old saws, anecdotes, or the emotional response we get to Matt Kemp’s 3-run homer.

  2. With this team, as currently constructed, I don’t think you’re going to have a huge difference between Kemp and Mallex, even if WAR suggests otherwise. Kemp provides a tremendous amount of symmetry in the lineup construction, which we would all agree has some value.

    I wish it were possible to do a study on how this lineup and bullpen would preform with a starting rotation that has 85% of its starts be at least 5 IP and 4 runs or less. I’m tempted to think we have twice or three times as many games where the starter doesn’t make it out of the third inning as a contending team would, but that’d be hard to track. Put some replacement level starts in those games, and you’re probably adding 10-15 wins right there.

  3. I think there is a threshold for HR. .212 with 19 HR and 58 RBI over 560 ABs is not very valuable. I would still take that over .247 7 HR and 45 RBI but a good glove. I suspect some would not.

    But thanks for the post.

  4. For me, it would depend on where the glove was. .245/7/45 with Gold Glove defense at SS – heck yes. At 3B? No way.

  5. I was just checking the Braves OBP leaders for this season, and I was quite amused to see that Bud Norris is 3rd.

  6. If only there were a single metric that integrated all that information. Nah, best to do case-by-case batting avg and HR combos.

    *ps: sorry, I had to

  7. I really think Freddie doesn’t get enough love. Just had a quick look at his stats the last 30 days (not sure if it includes today’s match or not)

    351/504/777 10 HR, 27 RBI

    That is insane. Did not realise he was going on a Bondsian tear this past month. Hope he can keep it up and get into the top 5 MVP this year. He deserves it.

  8. If you cut out Freddie’s first 17 games, which was probably one of his most woeful stretches as a hitter in his major league career, he’s got a Chipper-like slash line of .308/.404/.597/1.001.

    That’s the kind of production you’d give your right arm for.

  9. Great day for Heyward, all three RBIs in the 3-2 win against the Giants. SF used ten(!) pitchers in the 13 inn affair.

  10. @9…that’s good news.

    It was a good series to watch. Poignant even, Schwarber looking muddled on the bench, still thinking about that stupid play in LF maybe. Now THERE’S a guy for Chief and JWDB to argue about! Had he had a full season his slugging numbers versus his miscues would be fodder for all night rants here.

    But then how much of a ‘full’ season would Maddon have allowed him, surrounded by young power most of whom are defensively more than competent. That and the pitching and there’s your 17 game lead, whatever. An undamaged Schwarber? You would have to think traded, maybe, pitching.

    Chief would have traded a bevy of young arms for him- funnily enough I think JWDB would have too!

  11. @1/3

    The thought further occurs there’s another kind of Schwarber out there, maybe. Proven power taken well into last year’s post season in pretty spectacular fashion. Apparently out of favor with management who have just sent him back down for the SECOND time this season. He’s pressing they say. Who isn’t? But it’s bad in his case,

    Defensively there seems to be confusion as to how and where to rate him in the outfield. He’s certainly not carrying Schwarber’s weight around, far from it,it’s ongoing concerns about left wrist damage that’s affected his hitting and his confidence after a .365 start in April went down to .150 the next 6 weeks.. Collins is talking quite openly about it, you sense he’s had enough.

    Michael Conforto, we would love to take a flyer on you. We can offer in exchange exciting young pitching to help rebuild a starting rotation that looked invincible just a year ago. Tell Collins to keep talking – it helps our cause.

  12. our starting rotation
    till very recently the envy of the nation
    is collapsing around us
    just be grateful that, relapsing, you’ve found us.

  13. The Mets are a good reason to hold onto to your pitching prospects. You never know when you might need to ask for them back (a year later). It’s also what happens when you keep dealing prospects to fill short-term needs. We could have two guys in the pen and one in the rotation just from pitching the Mets traded to get Kelly Johnson. I mean, lolz.

  14. If you can resist the urge to get that Kelly Johnson every year, then you’re going to have a lot more than some Kelly Johnson’s in a few years. I do wonder how I’ll feel when the Braves are 6-7 games above .500 in July and have a shot, but fundamentally, if you hold onto these people, you’ll be calling up a Kelly Johnson for free instead of trading for him in the future.

  15. By the way, I don’t think the issue is Mallex vs. Kemp. Kemp needs to improve before he becomes valuable enough to be in that conversation. Mallex is probably more valuable from a WAR perspective, but it’s just a matter of fit. We need a right-handed power bat in the worst way, and Kemp can be that. The issue here is whether or not Blemp is going to lose some weight to not be a complete albatross in LF. Regardless of which side of the fence you’re on, it’s obvious that Blemp is giving away way too many runs in LF to be valuable. He needs to be closer to Justin Upton than Mo Vaughn playing LF.

  16. @15… sharp!

    @17…yes

    @19… is that not precisely what Chief’s disagreement is – he does not give away ‘too many’. I have no idea how you equate these two things to have to come down on one or the other. The eyes have it, maybe. Suits my philosophy!

  17. Yeah, I don’t have a problem with all-bat left fielders at all. They need more than just 70 power though. Evan Gattis’ bat wasn’t good enough. The 30 HR potential couldn’t offset a lack of walks and atrocious defense. 2016 Kemp is similar. The difference is that Kemp has rebound potential for 2017. This could end up a very good trade for us.

  18. Giving away runs matters less when you score a lot. We’re scoring a lot since Kemp arrived. SSS and we’re playing shitty teams (and screwing up our draft position), but so far it doesn’t look to me like playing a butcher in LF matters even one little bit.

  19. I might be creating a narrative, but it seems like the team has responded in a major way. Their belief that the team added a great player seems to have changed something.

    I really don’t know how all the defensive stats are calculated, but I could see it having a huge impact. The difference between an OBP of .300 and an OBP of .367 would have meant Kemp got on-base one more time in that series with the Phillies. That’s a massive spread that can be erased by catching one extra fly ball.

  20. Freddie Freeman and Ender Inciarte have been two of the top 10 players in the NL since June. That was well before we acquired Kemp. Their rebound along with that of Aybad made us a competitive team. We were playing .500 ball for a good stretch before Kemp arrived. The only thing that temporarily thwarted that was a rash of pitching injuries and implosions. Kemp adds something substantial in RH power, but the team’s offensive turnaround mostly predated his arrival.

  21. We’ve definitely been pretty good. If we could have squeeked a couple wins out of the 7-game losing streak where we gave up 7, 9, 4, 10, 8, 7, and 11 runs, then we’d have had a winning record in August. But the fun is over as we go @WSH, MIA, NYM, WSH. Just like with the entire season, it will really depend on how our young starters do. Seriously, with our offense and bullpen, if guys can just get through the 5th, we’ve been really competitive, especially with a deeper bullpen with the expanded rosters.

    I think lost in the Kemp talk is, like John said, Freddie/Inciarte/Garcia have hit really well, Swanson has played good defense, but more importantly, the starting pitching has been mildly competitive. And with that, Ryan Weber will start a game for us tonight. This is probably the 20th start by pitchers who have no hope of being in our rotation in 2017.

  22. @9, So in one sense it’s good for him–he put the bat on the ball in clutch situations three times. Tied the game once early and then again in the ninth, and then the game-winning hit in the 13th. But just like his big hit late last week, there’s no authority behind them. Some of y’all used to joke about his being a punch-and-judy hitter, an exaggeration about the fact he wasn’t slugging very much–but now it’s like that’s his actual approach up there: just stick the bat out at see what happens. Two doinks over the shortstop’s head and a seeing eye grounder with the infield pulled in.

    It just isn’t good hitting, and it isn’t anything like any point in his career before this year. Oddest thing I’ve ever seen. Rooting for him all the way, obviously.

  23. Ryan Weber has a pitch called the meatball…looks like a changeup with no life that floats right into the hitting zone. Not sure it’s an effective pitch.

  24. Freddie scalded one right into the shift, over the first baseman’s head on the second baseman’s side. Nice.

    Here comes Fatt Blemp. Let’s see what happens…

    UPDATE: Weak K on three pitches is what happens.

  25. Kemp is awful defensively. I do think he probably gives up more runs that he adds over a replacement player. I hope Coppy keeps calling him out on his weight. He should be embarrassed.

  26. @33, Nah. Coppy acquired him knowing full well what his weight is. It’s not like he can get fit and trim in the last six weeks of a season. In that case, you don’t call him out in public. You talk to him privately about your expectations for the offseason so he can be ready for Spring Training. Calling him out was weird. Maybe there’s something I don’t know about and Kemp deserved the spanking, but other than that…weird.

  27. @36

    I agree that he can’t get in shape right now. But if he does show up to spring training next year out of shape again, Coppy should say something. I don’t think Kemp needs to be hanging windows in the offseason with Chuck James. Get in shape.

  28. Apparently Dusty Baker apologized to Nats fans for fielding a rest lineup today.

    Anyway, it’s 5-1 Nats as we head to the bottom of the 4th.

  29. Tyrell Jenkins gave up 10 hits (but only one walk!) over 7.2, but Gwinnett still won because they were facing Kameron Loe on the opposing mound.

  30. @31

    Surprised to hear you say that…even at the most partisan levels of sport there are some wearing the wrong colors whose ability transcends the parochial, they are simply to be watched and admired, particularly if they’re this young.
    I’m jealous he’s not ours, wonder if we ever were aware of him in the trade fests of those days but that is all. And in this holiday game today it’s not as though his contribution, as massive as it is, is going to be the difference between the two sides. So i can just enjoy watching him.

  31. Trea Turner was a top-25, maybe top-15 prospect when the Nats acquired him. And they got Joe Ross, Tyson’s brother with him. They gave up Steven Souza and some lefty named Travis Ott. As I remember, everyone thought the Nats made out like bandits in the 3-team deal. The Padres got Wil Myers and the Rays got Souza/Ott. Nats win, other 2 teams lose.

  32. Watched it from the upper-deck. Matt Kemp with the 0-fer and an and-1. Closer than it had any right to be given Weber went from a 22-pitch outing to a game where Snitker forced him to go three (obviously he wanted more, but he forced him to go three no matter what).

  33. As bad as Weber was, Kemp’s defense was completely responsible for two of those runs. He’s really starting to stretch my limits on how I actually think about LF defense.

  34. Why would you have to watch someone giving away runs in LF to begin to believe that runs can be given away in LF? Is it so inconceivable? Does one think that balls just aren’t hit out there?

  35. Nice work as always, Stu. Thank you for maintaining this resource. Do you have any guess as to what our arb bill will be this year?

    And does anyone know what our international signing bill ran us this year?

  36. Haven’t begun to think about arb, but MLBTR usually has produces estimates of all arb salaries at some point in the offseason.

  37. Can he drive too? His next workout will be at the track.

    John Malone
    with a style that’s entirely his own
    F1 in his pocket
    now he wants Tebow the Florida rocket.

  38. @51…

    says Rosenthal a hundred K
    and Timothy is on his way
    this quite perverse bononza
    to debut soon at Monza.

  39. I think Braves arb-bill will be less than 8MM for Vizzy, Ender, Paco, and possibly (if Braves can’t find an attractive C via trade/FA) Recker. My guesses:
    Ender- 2.8MM
    Vizzy- 1.7MM
    Paco- 800K
    Recker- 1.2MM
    Krol- 1.2MM

  40. With 5 guaranteed contracts at 58MM, & 9MM or so in arb, for 5-6 players, Braves commitments after factoring pre-arb likely around 73-74MM.

  41. @50

    What would be your threshold of offensive performance that you’d be willing to ignore all but baseball history level poor LF defense?

    Scoring and producing runs through intangibles is so much more important than not having a LF with a 20 foot catch radius. You said earlier something about, it’s not like we don’t have a single metric… By saying that, you water down your other supposition that metrics aren’t everything.

    Sports/baseball are played by human beings. Not computer simulations. While I tire of the 70 year old scout/Harvard stats 25 year old argument, there is room for both.

    Use your eyes. This team stunk with Mallex Smith in the lineup (or insert any other non power OF). I attribute a lot to Inciarte but anyone that would play some of our lightweights over Kemp’s .250 33/105 are just lost. For THIS team, bereft of power. Maybe other teams, maybe not.

  42. 56—It will be close with Rodriguez, but I don’t think he’s going to quite reach Super Two/arb status. He’ll be at two years and 120 days of service, and I think the lowest threshold for Super Two calculating in recent years has been two years and 122 days.

  43. I know I’m out on a ledge here, but if Stu’s and Ryan’s #s are correct, that they have about $70M committed, and they don’t increase payroll by $20-30M, then I am going to be so beyond pissed. Eh, who am I kidding? They have me by the nuts from a fan perspective.

  44. @59, this team stunk with Mallex but that was when Markakis, Aybar, Freeman, Inciarte, and Garcia were all putrid. They all turned it around some time in June, and we starting playing .500 ball. That happened substantially before Kemp arrived. You have to be pretty desperate to mash events into your narrative to blame that on the presence or absence of Mallex Smith.

    To answer your question, the level of offense for me to ignore terrible defense would have to be at least above average. Kemp is a below average left fielder even when you only consider offense.

  45. I’m splitting hairs to say he’s below average. I agree he is within the range of average, in most senses of the word.

    I reflected on this, and I shouldn’t have answered your question because I disagree with the premise. Defense always matters. There is no point at which defense ceases to matter. For a given player, it can be overshadowed more and more by offensive production. At certain positions, there are not enough opportunities for even the worst fielders to cancel out above average offense. LF is one of those. Justin Upton was lousy in the field with us, but his bat made up for it. Kemp is even lousier, but he makes outs far more often than upton did.

    I also reject the idea that people who criticize Kemp’s lackluster game are arguing for Mallex Smith in LF. For a bad offensive club, it makes sense to trade defense for offense, and for a strongly LH lineup, it makes sense to diversify. On the balance, I think Kemp probably makes us better than another LH batter with no power even if that player can save 25 runs in the field relative to Kemp. The real question is whether Mallex is better than Markakis.

  46. LF defense is the least important thing in any discussion about having a winning team. That doesn’t mean that I want to put someone out there that only catches half the routine balls hit his way.

    It does mean that I expect that bad defender to be a well above average hitter. Kemp isn’t the poster boy for LF because he’s not that good a hitter any more. He’ll have to improve his plate discipline quite a bit next year to make this a good move for us.

  47. How many first MLB homers have been inside-the-parkers? That was unreal. Props to Dansby for busting it out of the box instead of admiring it.

  48. Just want to give some extra praise to Austin Riley who finished the regular season with 20 HR and 61 total extra base hits. After a mediocre first half, he slashed .289/.348/.581 (.929) with 17 HR in the second half. As a 19-year-old, younger than nearly everyone else in the league.

  49. Yeah, I was keeping my hopes down after his awesome-but-SSS-debut, but I’m officially excited about Riley after this season.

  50. Man, but remember Matt Kemp’s 3-run homer?

    While we’re on it, it’s fashionable to talk about all the synergistic effects of adding extra offense: Freeman protected, opposing pitchers have to nibble, etc…

    But why don’t we talk about the exacerbating effects of allowing extra outs? Perez maybe gets out of it and saves the bullpen. Pitching staff feels more comfortable throwing strikes, etc. it truly does go both ways

  51. I was a bit distracted at the time, but did I hear Chip say there have been 11 “inside-the-park home runs as a first career home run” since ~2001? That seems very high.

    Also, missed the most recent Kemp fiasco – what happened?

  52. I told you a couple of days back Dansby was looking tired – slow bat, no power. He obviously took note.

    Lovely to watch.

  53. Yeah, he said eleven guys, and I can’t believe it , either…. Kemp play: 2 on, no outs Bryce Harper pops it up, shallow left. I thought: whew! There’s an out… Then see Kemp chugging in, looking like a novice jogger trying to get to the finish line in his very first 10k run… Ball falls in, base hit followed by–grand slam.

  54. Ha, thanks for the vivid descriptions. It’s even more aggravating that it was on a Harper-hit ball.

    I still miss Gattis. I just couldn’t get frustrated watching him flounder around out there, he was such a lovable bear.

  55. @84

    I think it’s different with Blemp. Gattis was just big and lumbering, and in theory, Gattis could always learn some plate discipline and put his raw, superhuman strength to better use. As a fan, you can get behind that. Blemp is choosing to be fat, out of shape, and aloof. It’s really hard for a fan to cheer for something like that. I’m embarrassed just watching him. It doesn’t take talent to hustle, and the dude is just not trying to be a grown up about things.

  56. OH AND ONE MORE THING…

    Gattis was cheap and free. He was found money. We chose to absorb Kemp for 3 years and somewhere around 9 mil extra per year. It could work out and he could be come back POTY. But If he gets…worse–we will regret this trade.

    Man, Neck is helping to show us that corner OF defense is lololol.

  57. Peanut…Swanson has hit an inside-the-park HR for three teams (Carolina, Mississippi and Atlanta) this year. He says he’d never previously hit one.

  58. @79. Even I have never said that defense doesn’t matter. What I have said is that it doesn’t matter very much. And even LESS so in LF. Just give me a beer league guy that can hit 40 HR out there but a butcher and I’m still happy. What I’m advocating is that very few if any good hitters allow more extra runs with their glove than their hitting ‘goodness’ brings in.

    BTW, I do agree with you that the real ? is between Mallex and Markakis. They’re not very different but I’d probably lean Smith since he is at least younger and won’t hit too much less than Markakis. I doubt he ever hits 9 HR in a season though.

  59. @89 “What I’m advocating is that very few if any good hitters allow more extra runs with their glove than their hitting ‘goodness’ brings in.”

    I suspect that’s true, but Kemp can hardly be included in the class of “good hitters” anymore.

  60. One hit a series can separate a good hitter from a mediocre one. I saw him give away a hit today.

    Absolutely on Ender. Wouldn’t mind a couple extensions this off-season.

  61. Ender, absolutely, and then we have to solve the left field problem. I have one in mind, just hit his 30th homer, goes by the nick of Stinky. Currently plays second but hey he’s handy, only 22 and we got Albies.

    Ender Odor
    roughly speaking
    then can the one
    whose joints are creaking.

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