Braves 5, Nats 3 (by JonathanF)

It’s Wednesday and the games are starting later – 1:06 instead of 12:10. MLB is still doing its best to make sure I can see the game and still make the Early Bird Special for dinner.

When I last left you, we were all in SSS heaven: leading baseball in runs scored, winning every series, comparing Preston Tucker to Matt Diaz and Ryan Flaherty to… well, nobody was really comparing Ryan Flaherty to anybody, but you get the idea. One week later we’re in an orgy of hat-tipping (I’m not going to dwell on this trope, but it sounds more than a little kinky) we’ve lost our first series, are trying to avoid a sweep, and are planning to DFA ¼ of the team. So I guess I have to come to the rescue again. I beat Scherzer last week. How hard could this be?

Keeping up my 1966 nostalgia tour, the 12th game in 1966 found the 7-4 Braves losing in the second game to split a Sunday doubleheader with the Mets in the Launching Pad in front of 40,477. HOFers in the game: Aaron, Torre, Mathews, Niekro and the father of a HOFer, Sandy Alomar. Faith Hill’s father-in-law got the win from back when he was a starter. Felipe Alou hit two homers.

The Nats pitched AJ Cole, who came into the game with a 24.55 ERA and a WHIP of 3.5. SSS, Albies gives the Braves their first lead since the Mountain Time Zone with a first inning mammo as the second batter, which actually does trivially increase Cole’s ERA, though by the end of his stint he had lowered it to 12.00. McCarthy gets double plays behind him in the first two innings, but gives up a run on a single by Trea Turner in the 3rd. Suzuki responds with a foul pole shot in the top of the 4th to regain the lead (No… I refuse to call it a “fair pole.” Just no.) George Washington won the Presidents’ Race. The bottom of the 4th brought the Braves 3rd DP of the game.

People have criticized Brandon McCarthy’s ability to stay healthy, which seems a little uncharitable for a guy who was almost killed by batted ball. But in the bottom of the 5th he dislocated his glove shoulder fielding a flip from Freddie for the last out. Wikipedia notes he dislocated the same shoulder while weight-lifting last year, leading to a long DL stint. New Head Trainer George C. Poulis popped it back into place on the field, but he came out of the game to be replaced by the other Freeman. Hopefully this will be more like Tony Finau than last year’s McCarthy.

The bottom of the 6th brought the 4th DP, made even sweeter by the fact that it was a Harper DP. Winkler got in some 2 out trouble in the 7th. He gave up a single to Difo with 2 on but Bourjos threw out Matt Adams at the plate by about 10 feet. Adams is no swifter than he was last year. If Barry Bonds could’ve made that throw the Pirates would still be celebrating their 1992 World Series win.

Minter for the 8th with Harper due 3rd. K-K-K. Easy peasy.

Folk semi-hero Ryan Flaherty bats in the top of the 9th with two out and two on. Another K and he is now hemi-demi-semi folk hero Ryan Flaherty.

Arodys in the bottom of the 9th with his first save opportunity of the year… pretty odd for a closer on a 6-5 team. Rendòn out on a kick save by Vizcaíno… but then Matt Adams ties it up with a blast to center. Blown save, but I got a chance to use two accented letters. Single, bad pickoff, wild pitch. Ouch. But a groundout leads to free baseball.

Free baseball. Leadoff walk to Ender. K-SB. IBB to Freddie. Neck:K. Double steal. Inciarte steals home! Called out initially. Review calls him out. I don’t think so, but there you are. If we were a really good team this play and the Bourjos slide are the ones you remember.

Actual folk hero Kurt Suzuki with dinger two in the top of the 11th. Bourjos off the schneid with a double. Close but no cigar as the inning ends with runners stranded on 2nd and 3rd again.

Bottom of the 11th. Shane Carle for the save. Harper single to lead off, natch. Goes to second on a groundout by Rendòn. Down to the last out….. but no. Tied up with a Howie Kendrick double. We go to the 12th. I’m gonna be too late for the Blue Plate Special. Back to back singles by Oz and Fred off Madson. Neck: BB. Folk hero up – bases loaded and no out. Infield fly – legitimate one. (Still sore about that… just like last week.) Bourjos – two in a row! Two run single! Dansby:K. Braves are out of hitters so Carle hits and … well, he goes to the plate and doesn’t touch one.

Proving himself incapable of a save, Shane can now go for the win. FO-2. K. Last out… again. 6-3.

We won’t see Harper again until the end of May unless he’s traded to us in return for Bourjos (“Defense wins championships and Bourjos has it …plus he outhit Harper in that last game where we saw him”). Get it done AA, while Bourjos’ value is high.

OK. I’ve righted the ship. See you next week.

57 thoughts on “Braves 5, Nats 3 (by JonathanF)”

  1. Great recap, Jonathan.

    I would not want to be the person who has to decide whether to call up Blair, Wisler, or Sims. Our struggling rotation is doomed to get worse.

  2. JC’d from previous thread.

    Rob..@67, previous thread.

    I doubt I was the only one puzzled/disturbed by what appeared to be your overreaction to Sam’s previous post re Don Sutton’s health. You offered no explanation to justify your curt choice of those two words.

    So a lot of us will be left wondering what on earth is this all about, why your anger.

    If (and this is a pure guess) there is word about in the inner sanctum this is a topic that must not be discussed on this or any other Braves board, by Sutton’s request, and you agreed to do that, on your own, then we are on a slippery path, the C word. You know, we don’t, by your choice.

    Don Sutton is and has been an integral and respected part of the Braves for a long time. That makes him newsworthy. And your function as Editor does not leave you free to choose what you do or do not let us share. Let alone jumping on others who do.

    If my guess is wrong then please advise and I will withdraw that paragraph. But the bad manners, whatever it was, will have upset not a few. It jarred.

    I am an admirer of your Editorship. Please let’s sort this out.

  3. 7-5 without Acuna. I was wrong. The greedy anti-labor management team was right. This is a win/win now. We’re not buried in the standings after two weeks, and Acuna’s start of season slump is only affecting the Stripers (srlsy that name?), while the big club is poised to reap the benefits of his regression back to his mean.

  4. @5 I haven’t laughed in quite a while as much as I did when Rob or whoever wrote Gwinnett Strippers and crossed out the extra p.

    BTW, are there strip clubs in Gwinnett? I haven’t lived in the South in a long time and not in Georgia for a month of Sundays.

  5. Adam R

    You and your ISO! Explain if you would, please.

    Does this mean that, as of today, on average (??), thirty one per cent of the time Ozzie has gotten a base hit it was an XBH? And if so how do you differentiate between a double and a home run?

    SSS and unsustainable i assume? What would be the average rating for an established power hitter like Freddie over a much longer period? Thanks.

  6. ISO is just slugging percentage minus batting average. Takes the singles out and shows you, relative to other guys’ ISOs, how much slugging (extra-base-hitting) the guy is really doing.

  7. @9, Sure thing, ISO is simple. It’s just slugging percentage minus batting average. AKA how much value is your raw power adding when you hit the ball.

  8. For comparison, Freddie Freeman’s ISO has shown a very steady improvement with .267 and .280 over his last two seasons. Albies won’t maintain a .350 ISO, but when a guy is hitting well, you expect his ISO to be up like that over a short stretch.

    This Ozzie Albies is on a good tear. I think I underestimated him.

  9. For more comparison, Gincarlo Standon’s ISO last season with .350. He hit 59 home runs. Were Ozzie to continue to hit like he has, that’s roughly the amount of home runs he would hit.

  10. We’ll see what happens, but it’s not impossible that Albies is just a complete freak of nature.

  11. I, for one, was not expecting that Albies would hit his way to a .900 OPS via a .278/.291/.630 batting line, but I’ll take it.

    Goodness, the little dude can play.

    Also thanks all for the information on Don. Somehow I’d missed all of his health struggles and scares.

  12. Chihuahuas
    Blue Wahoos
    Yard Goats
    AquaSox
    Spinners
    Snappers
    Bananas (Formerly Sand Gnats)
    IronPigs
    Lugnuts
    Flying Squirrels
    Biscuits
    RubberDucks
    Muckdogs
    Shuckers
    Bacon

    These are all minor league baseball team names. Why people would get so up in arms over a franchise’s AAA mascot is beyond me. Looking even at billion-dollar professional sports franchises, there are plenty with names that would sound odd to us today if our awareness of them hadn’t dated back to childhood. Given time to sound normal they all eventually do.

    On a similar note, is it too soon to start referring to Matt Adams as “Big District”?

  13. Intentionally omitted from the above list, of course, are the Albuquerque Isotopes given that it is a Simpsons reference and those are sacrosanct around here.

  14. List of MLB mascots that seem out of place:

    Indians (it is, c’mon)
    Yankees (pretty much a term of endearment nowadays)
    Twins (anyone care to share the etymology?)
    Athletics (just weird, man)
    Metropolitans (nowadays, because of the drink, just not real manly)

    Otherwise, most teams are just animal or bird names.

  15. I think Indians refers to the great people of the nation of India.

    And everybody knows New Yuck is full of darn yankees who don’t know anything about anything.

  16. @21

    Or random colors… pieces of laundry…

    Come to think, of how bizarre is it that multiple teams in MLB proudly identify themselves by the colors of what is essentially is just their underwear?

  17. I think if the Braves were to trade for a PROVEN 3rd/4th starter type that they could slot in that would be an upgrade to anyone on the starting rotation, now that upon further review this team could approach .500.

    Albies is better than I thought, McCarthy, though glass is performing well, Folty MAY have turned a modicum of a corner.

    It’s still fring-ish SSS and its probably too early to make ANY long term observations but the team overall seems better than last year.

  18. @26 Sadly, it won’t stop being SSS till May at the earliest. Baseball is a long season to avoid the SSS.

    But I agree with you on the rotation. One more solid starter to go with McCarthy and Foltynewicz (and eventually Gohara) would do a lot to push this team closer to fringe contention. They certainly seem like they could have the bats for it for a change.

  19. DOB posted our starting lineup from 2 years ago today on Twitter. What a joke team that was. This team is a lot better than that one.

  20. If Swanson hits like this then we’ll win more than our projections. I really think the changes he’s made to his setup and his load/balance are the kind that leads to sustainable success. He sucked last year because he was on his front side too early and too often. If that’s fixed, he’s certainly athletic enough to put up some numbers.

  21. I agree, Braves14. I’m particularly enthusiastic about the core of the lineup that is taking shape, that being: Freeman, Swanson, Albies, and Acuna. Plus Inciarte too.

    If this team can shake out a solid rotation this year, I’m not ready to rule them out. With some luck of course.

  22. Add me to the chorus of people that think that Inciarte really looked safe. And if we lost that game, I think the chorus would be larger and louder, which should have nothing to do with the bad call itself.

    Lane Adams on Twitter said that the review people should not know what the call on the field is. They should just see every angle, every feed, and come up with their own answer. I think we see the call being right more than it is right now. This brand of replay has no use. It often doesn’t get the call right, so the pro-replay aren’t happy, and it drags the game down, so the anti-replay people aren’t happy.

  23. Rob – I am guessing the replay people are hesitant to overturn any call without clear evidence that it was wrong. Logically, sending the replay staff the video without letting them know what the call was on the field would (1) certainly result in more calls overturned, as it would remove the bias towards confirming the umpire on the field. Also logically speaking, (2) it would result in a higher percentage of reviews ending with the correct ruling as the review staff has better information than the umpires on the field.

    What’s standing in the way of making that change? Probably the umpire’s union, would be my guess. Umps don’t want to be second-guessed, and would hardly consent to any changes that upped the probability that the review process overturns their calls any more than already happens.

  24. In a lot of cases there’s just not a good way to shield the reviewers from the original call. The umpire will be in frame, and if not, the reaction of the players gives it way more often than not.

    I’m good with just removing it. I don’t like the frame-by-frame analysis of close tag-out plays which in the old days would have boiled down to “out if the throw beat the runner, unless something egregious happens”. I’m definitely more of a spirit-of-the-rule guy than a literalist.

  25. @34 True, the reviewers would be able to infer the on-field call most of the time even without being explicitly provided with that information. Really they should just operate under the premise that they are undertaking what lawyers call a de novo review – the reviewer should take into account the details of the play on the field, but not the on-field ump’s call, when rendering judgment.

    I think I slightly prefer baseball with review to the old, no-review days… but regardless, if you’re gonna do reviews (and I think we’re at a point of no return in that arena), do it right.

  26. The only thing I care for about challenges is preventing obviously very bad calls from altering the outcome of a game. I think there are clear scenarios where challenges are necessary (ie. pulling the runner off the bag, ruling a foul ball a home run, calling strikes 14″ off the plate, declaring infield fly on a ball to the outfield). The obvious stuff.

  27. “isolated on-base” seems logical for OBP minus AVG. IsOB or just IOB for short.

    The Gwinnett team held a fan poll to rebrand their team away from the “Gwinnett Braves.” This was almost certainly driven by the fact that they have to split merchandise revenue with Atlanta for any “Braves” caps or jerseys sold, but have exclusive profits on “Stripers” merch.

    Rumor is that another option won the poll but the team forced through “stripers” regardless. It’s supposed to refer to striped bass and fishing in the area.

    When United places their USL feeder club in Coolray as well, people took ATL UTD’s “Five Stripes” nickname and immediately termed ATL 2 the “Five Stripers.”

    I refuse to acknowledge the new name until they change the colors and unis to alternating bands of black and garish yellow leather.

  28. Wouldn’t the affiliates also want to be branded as separate entities in case the parent club or the affiliate decide to part ways? If you’ve been the Gwinnett Braves for decades, but all of a sudden the Braves want to pull out, you’re not exactly branding on your terms.

  29. I thought the Gwinnett minor league team was wholly owned by the Braves, along with every other minor league affiliate with the exception of Florida.

    Am I mistaken about that?

  30. Saying it out loud, I like “IsOB” for isolated on-base, regardless of how you calculate it. That would rationally be pronounced “Ice-Oh-Bee”, or “Iso-B.” I likey.

  31. If I remember correctly, the Braves changed the name because it was confusing internally, sending players from and to the Braves. I think.

  32. I always thought that there should be a stat that reflected how many outs you generated per AB. So, a single would be the same as reached on an error, and you’d get double penalized for a GIDP.

    Don’t know what that stat would measure, but it might be useful for something.

  33. @48

    Except when you reach on an error, you “generate an out” for all intents and purposes, it’s just that the other team is too incompetent to convert it. I’m not sure how giving a better credit for those is useful.

    Maybe something where a batter is penalized for hitting into double plays might be useful. If it happens frequently, your approach in those situations is probably not the best. Although, it also probably has a lot to do with your speed, as well.

  34. What do we call the stat that isolates your ability to reach safely on an error?

    Fantasy.

  35. @49–but you haven’t generated an out for all intents and purposes. For all purposes other than batting average and ERA, including things that really count in the game, you have not generated an out. Factoring in fielder’s abilities (as errors do) doesn’t really tell us who has “actually” gotten a hit; you get a hit for a routine ground ball that gets by an infielder with poor range, but don’t get a hit if he flubs the ball he does get to. I agree with Joe Pos that errors are goofy and arbitrary and should never had been a part of the game. See http://joeposnanski.com/is-this-an-error/ for a thorough (of course!) discussion of this issue.

  36. Maybe something where a batter is penalized for hitting into double plays might be useful. If it happens frequently, your approach in those situations is probably not the best. Although, it also probably has a lot to do with your speed, as well.

    This would seem to be an easy, straightforward and useful modification to Secondary Average (secA). Most sites compute secA as

    ((TB – H) + (SB – CS) + BB) / AB

    Not sure why you couldn’t throw a (- RoE) into the numerator there. Also not sure why you use AB rather than PA as the denominator.

  37. I think it’s a first, but I agree with tfloyd. Distinguishing between “that’s a seeing eye single because Derek Jeter has no range” and “that’s a single because Derek Jeter has no range and even though he got glove on the ball it was at Yankee Stadium so the official scorer didn’t give him the error” and “that’s an error because running full out into a gap laying out vertical in the dive, but just tipping the ball off the webbing when you land is totally an E if you’re a Red Sox player in the Bronx.” is stupid.

    Though in truth, they’d give the home team hitter the double/tripple instead. Reached on errors is a minimal proxy for “speed” and regardless, he reached. The out was not recorded. Thus no out should be given to the hitter who is not, in fact, out.

  38. My guess is that AB is used instead of PA as the denominator because it is trying to calculate the extra amount of bases one earned through extra base hits, stolen bases, and walks. If it divided it by PAs it would cancel out the walks.

    It doesn’t give credit for being hit by a pitch, so it doesn’t consider that a skill I guess.

  39. When I was a kid I used to create arcane stats.

    One I came up with was called the Perfect Player Rating.

    I’d take the league leader in each of the main categories and add the totals from each of those categories up, like this…

    BA- .345
    HR- 44
    RBI- 134
    SB- 75
    BB- 115

    To come up with a PPR of 713.

    Then I’d take each player and take those totals…

    Say, .278, 14 HR, 98 RBI, 21 SB and 65 BB.

    Add…

    Player X would have a PPR of .667 I had scales for what I considered a GREAT player and down.

    I was a nerd.

  40. GIDP is kind of a function of opportunity, similar to RBI. It does feel “right” to want to penalize it more though. I feel the same about CS. Fast guy leads off with a single and is thrown out trying to steal. His AVG and OBP benefit, but as far as the actual game goes it’s the same as if he struck out.

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