Acuña (and his teammates) 7, Redlegs 4

I don’t understand all the hype for this kid Acuña. Jeff Francouer hit a three run homer in his first game in the major leagues. Jason Heyward hit a three run dinger in his first at bat in the bigs. It took Acuña until his first at bat of his second game to go yard, and his first was a solo shot. Clearly, he will never amount to the hitter that Frenchy and J-Hey became.

Of course, we don’t know how this Acuña thing will work out, but the excitement for now is pretty incredible. The Braves have the two youngest players in MLB, and both homered today. Acuña went 3 for 5 with a single and double to go with his homer; Albies homered and doubled. With 19, Ozzie now has set the all time franchise record for extra base hits before May 1. Acuña looks like the real deal and a superstar in the making; Ozzie is already proving it on the field. The last time a pair of teammates Albies’ age or younger each homered in the same game was 40 years ago. Those kids were the Braves’ own Bob Horner and Glen Hubbard.

Actually, Acuña’s shot was not just a homer. In the pregame hype show before his first game on Wednesday, they showed the same interview with Chipper at least three times, in which Chipper said that Acuña approaches the plate “with malice aforethought.” As is often the case with Chipper, I had no idea what he was talking about. But on Thursday afternoon it became clear; Ronald murdered the baseball. His homer had an exit velocity of 105.8 mph, and a distance of 416, although to my eye it was at least 500.

Other good things happened today. Freddie had three doubles. Newcomb had six strikeouts, no walks, and no runs through 4 innings, and he also pitched a scoreless sixth. The starter went six full innings!! What about the 5th, you ask? It was a very Newk inning. He walked sluggers Phil Gosselin and Billy Hamilton on 8 pitches. Sean hasn’t asked for my advice, but here it is anyway–Just throw the ball over the plate!! What’s the worst thing that could happen with these two?! So of course a couple of batters later Votto hit a three run homer. After the game, Newk said “I think it boils down to that Votto at bat. Obviously I missed with one pitch. Other than that I was in control. I just chalk it up to making a bad pitch to a great hitter.”

Sean, I love you man, but you’re missing the point. It all boiled down to walking freaking Phil Gosselin and Billy Hamilton. Votto is going to hit home runs. Add together Gosselin’s and Hamilton’s career slugging percentages and you still don’t get to .700. Don’t walk them!

Still, I’m pretty encouraged about Newcomb this year. He’s had significant stretches in which he’s showing that he just might be a very solid starter.

Speaking of encouraging, how about the bullpen the last two games? Three scoreless innings today and four yesterday. The key? It’s no secret—just two walks in those seven innings. As Joe Schultz might tell them, throw strikes so we can pound the Budweiser!!

This team is so fun. Next up—the schedule says we’re in Philadelphia again. I assume that’s a typo; we couldn’t play them nine times before May 1. On the other hand, it that’s true, I look forward to Ozzie going to Citizens Bank to set the all-time ML record for extra base hits before May 1. He only has 4 to go. Of course, if he keeps this up, Ozzie’s new teammate Acuña might set the record for May.

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114 thoughts on “Acuña (and his teammates) 7, Redlegs 4”

  1. Answering blazon from the last thread…

    Flowers is still on rehab. But it wouldn’t surprise me at all if he is activated tomorrow.

  2. I think Snitker looks like Joe Schultz. I can hear him now telling all of us “I managed great but boy did they play bad”.

    There is a reason baseball is a religion.

  3. Maybe our guys can have multiple competitions. Ozzie and Acuna can fight over who gets the most xBH in a month. They could also see who can steal the most bases and include Ender even though he has a head start. Ozzie and Freddie and Acuna can have an old style Mantle/Maris battle. And Acuna and Ender can see who can have the most OF assists. Ozzie and Acuna and Dansby can see whose helmet can fly the farthest around the bases. Bryce Harper’s hair would fit into this discussion really nicely.

    Who will be the first to score from 2B on a wild pitch? Steal home?

    This team has a real Gashouse Gang feel to it.

  4. Heyward didn’t just hit a home run in his first at bat. He hit a home run with his first Swing!

    And strangely enough, I’m pretty sure that it was the longest homer of his career.

  5. Shoulda’ mentioned Dansby. He does not now look out of place with this exotica around him. He hit the ball hard throughout the 4 games, just missed another homer today. He has transformed himself.Defense is good, just limited a bit laterally. A significant asset now.

    @2 thanks…Flowers, we need him up and running and retire the old guy with thanks.

  6. If Pache improves his power like Ozzie has, can you imagine our outfield next year? Inciarte, Pache and Acuna could cover some major ground. Add Ozzie and Dansby, and you have some impressive team speed.

  7. So happy for Everyday Johnny (from espn):

    Rays reliever Jonny Venters made it back to the bigs yesterday after six years and three Tommy John surgeries. The coolest part? His wife and three little children were there to witness it. Venters didn’t know he was getting promoted until shortly before noon. He called his wife at 12:30, and she and the kids somehow managed to hop a 5:30 flight from Atlanta to Baltimore, arriving at Camden Yards just in the nick of time to watch Venters retire Chris Davis (the only batter he faced) in the bottom of the sixth. “It was special,” says Venters. “It was like making my debut again.”

  8. Phillies next – Lets’s “stomp the piss out of ‘em. Stomp ‘em when they’re down. Kick ‘em and stomp ‘em.”

  9. @11 Very happy for Venters. That guy has had some terrible luck and it is nice he made it back and could do so in front of his family. Feels a bit like the end of “The Rookie”.

  10. With alot of money coming off books next year .. do they let Riley man 3rd base or go for a top free agent … or do they use on bullpen additions.. or a catcher?? I like Suzuki and Flowers combo .. but if there is a younger free agent night go there .. I don’t see then getting Machado or Harper.. If Donaldson healthy maybe .. but you block Riley if u do that.. maybe Riley can play RF …

  11. @16 An irrational undervaluation of a prospect simply because they’re a prospect? You don’t say.

  12. @15 If there is even a remote possibility of adding a talent like Bryce Harper to even the tiniest of team-friendly favorite-team discounts, you explore it, do what you have to do and worry about the rest of the details after signing the contract. Just imagine Acuna and Harper in the OF together and consider what a big crap shoot pitching is these days.

    I’d take the probably more consistent probably less injured Harper and cobble together the pitching from what we’ve got in prospects if I have to. Of course, I don’t stop looking for a good trade partner to fill other potential needs, like pitching, 3B, and C.

  13. For the record…

    I would like to personally thank all four excellent recappers who covered the Reds series while, at the same time, having to put up with my daily ‘bits’, probably stealing some of your lines.

    The thought occurs though with that combination plus all the regulars piling on through the week this might well have been the best covered road series in BJ history. Ya’ think?

    Acuna would be pleased. More importantly Mac would be too.

  14. No, no, no — I have been assured that Dansby is actually quite Overrated and, honestly, Really Very Bad, and that Dave Stewart, shrewd talent evaluator that he is, was horribly misunderstood when he sold high.

    He can’t hit, and he can’t field, and his smile and hair are annoying.

  15. @22: Yes, sir. Faith faltered, and the Commodore may not be as much of a lost cause as I thought. He’s done well. He’ll never be Simba defensively, but, dang, he’s been steady with the glove this year; and his bat leaves nothing to wish for. I was wrong.

    It’s a long season. If I need to admit my error daily, I will. Please tell me when to rinse and repeat.

    Mea maxima culpa.

  16. @22

    Stu – piling on!

    To which he is fully entitled.

    coop and me both…likely a few others

    so happy to be wrong. He is a man now.

    Minter, as an example, is not yet a man. Not to pick on him, there are others.

  17. I’m still not sold on Dansby. So please bash on me! I’m very pleased with the numbers he’s put up in April and certainly hope it augurs more, but I need more than four weeks of positive results to override last year’s full season of inadequacy (save for August which included a stretch of success roughly similar to the one he’s enjoyed so far in 2018; in other words, we’ve seen a streak like this from him before). Until then, there’s no certainty at all in this evaluation.

  18. Fun and Games over on TC where various posters profess to be carrying their erections over from yesterday’s game. One suggests marketing a new drug – Cialis plus Acuna Bomb.

  19. It’s pretty clear to me that he’s altered his hitting setup balance-wise and shortened his swing a bit. If this new approach sticks, he’s going to be good.

  20. @25 Who on this roster besides Freddie Freeman is there to honestly be sold on? I don’t think anyone has proven to be a for-sure long-term fixture besides The One Free Man. Food for thought…

  21. I think we’re seeing an overall improve in Dansby’s game across the board most likely due to a huge increase in his confidence. His speed and defense have improved significantly, and I just think the culture on this team is significantly different than it was last year. The tide is being raised across the ocean because of the emergence of these young players, resurgence by role players, etc.

  22. @28

    Three doubles for Freddy yesterday. Needs to be remembered mid all the other excitements.

    @27
    Dansby. Exactly.

  23. I think both Acuna and Albies need to get off plate a bit .. both kinda crowding it .. the better pitchers are gonna start busting inside and probably hit them to send message to see how they react .. if I was Acuna I’d be wearing hand and elbow protection .. cause it’s coming…..

  24. I think any talk of bringing in an outside 3B (not Bautista) will be for this year only (e.g. Moustakas) and let Riley have it going forward with Camargo backing him up. Catcher is a little more complex. Is Jackson or Contreras “the guy”? Jackson is closer than Contreras but both are still in the 2020 realm. Realmuto might be a good option; his FA year will be 2021 and by 2020 you could have either or both of Jackson and Contreras on the roster seeing if they can handle the job. I am not sure Kimbrel is a good bet – reports have his velocity down (yeah, all you Kimbrel-phytes can scream and yell). I think a better investment might be Kelvin Herrera especially if we can trade for him as a rental this year and then extend him. I would not be in on Donaldson or Machado.

    The other thing to consider is that the next OF up is not very close with Pache being a A+. Maybe he could pull an Acuna but you can’t count on that yet. Harper would be a great addition. Why not give him a 10-year contract and an opt-out after 3? That way, if he opts out, Pache will be ready and, if he doesn’t, Pache will be a mighty good trade chip.

    Also, with regards to an Ace, the only best choice next year is Kershaw. I am not sold on Archer or Fullmer. Maybe Keuchel would be good. But with our pitching talent only the top of the line ace would be worthwhile.

  25. Our roster is young and cheap enough where we could probably get by without a top-5 pitcher and still be a World Series-contending team by just having a really stout 25-man roster. Mirror more the Astros than the Nationals, as an example. The Astros have a really good player at any roster spot, but they don’t have a top-5, Ace(TM) pitcher. I think that’s fine.

    I think too much is made about our run with Three (Four) Aces when the rest of our rosters weren’t built quite as well. Take 1996. We were 3rd in overall WAR, but it was so highly concentrated in the Big 3, and it seems we had no bench, a mediocre bullpen, and no position finish higher than 6th in WAR.

    https://www.baseball-reference.com/leagues/team_compare.cgi?request=1&year=1996&lg=MLB&stat=WAR

    I’d love to see the Braves fill a roster 1-25 the way the Astros did last year (https://www.baseball-reference.com/leagues/team_compare.cgi?request=1&year=2017&lg=MLB&stat=WAR), which I think works best for a mid-market. So I don’t necessarily think it’s “Kershaw or Harper or bust”, but I also hope we’re not thinking about anyone in our high minors to man a position next year unless Riley is able to continue on his torrid path.

  26. There was an old Red who proclaimed
    relations between us were strained
    but since your Acuna
    come back, only sooner
    despite the comparo be pained.

    Based on ball park small talk.

  27. So much fun yesterday. Acuna, Ozzie, the guy who caught Acuna’s HR, Freddie, the pen, Newcomb (other than the 5th), Venters… the list goes on and on.

    And then blazon drops Joe Schultz on us. We are not worthy. Zitz em inside, Newk.

    btw, how the hell was Dansby’s Hr a foul ball ? it landed at least 20′ inside the foul pole. Did it hit the upper deck foul ? No one ever said. That would have just made yesterday insane.

    I’m thrilled with Dansby. the numbers on selectivity and staying off most of the junk outside is really encouraging. He also seems to be letting the game come to him which is key.

    This is fun. We will get Flowers back, could get Gohara and Soroka, Riley is looking legit so far, and perhaps we won’t be tempted to pull the trigger and call up Joey Bats.

    Go stomp the Phils and pound the Budweiser (sorry to call back, but that line perhaps made me laugh more than any other line in the book – other than the Aqua Velva one).

  28. Rob @37

    The Life of Riley is defined
    as leaving all the dross behind
    emerging as the star
    a purer bat by far
    and really, do you think we’d mind?

  29. My apologies for incessant postings, they stop now.

    I am still totally wound up by what i saw and heard over these last four days.

    I will now go out on the lawn, in the sun, and calm down.

    And F*** Kershaw – we can breed our own.

  30. @37 I don’t understand those rankings. If Chipper Jones’s WAR was 6.2, why does that chart show 3.3 for Atlanta at 3B?

    Additionally, I do think that it’s fair to address the elephant that was in the room that year, which is that the old guard of Blauser, Lemke, and McGriff were not great that year, and David Justice was hurt. All four were deeply entrenched players, and three of those were a big part of the success of the early ’90s Braves. So it’s not exactly as if the Braves neglected the lineup in favor of the rotation.

    I do think those early ’90s Braves were better than the 95-1999 Braves, and it had to do with that powerful and often unpredictable offense becoming a nightmare for opposing bullpens.

  31. Donny – if you hover over the 1996 entry for Atlanta at 3B you’ll see that it includes WAR for Chipper (518 ABs), Terry Pendleton (176), Mike Mordecai (28) and Ed Giovanola (13).

    Chipper’s WAR for 1996 was 6.2, as you say. However, Chipper spent only 118 games that year at 3B and 38 at Shortstop – so only about 3/4 of his WAR was accumulated at 3B. 6.2 WAR * (118/156) = 4.7 WAR.

    Then, you account for the fact that the Terry Pendleton was worth -1.3 WAR at 3B for the Braves in 1996, so 4.7 – 1.3 = 3.4 WAR. Mordecai and Giovanola presumably make up the rounding error that gets you down to 3.3 WAR.

  32. @44 Chipper only played 118 games at 3B and the other guys had negative WAR…but it still doesn’t add up to me either.

    nvm, @45 has it right – I forgot to pro-rate Chipper’s WAR.

  33. @37, The Astros have Justin Verlander, who is absolutely one of the best 5 or 6 pitchers in baseball.

    Scherzer-Kershaw-Kluber-Sale-Verlander, and then some folks would mix in Strasburg.

  34. @45, 46 Thank you very much. I didn’t look nearly close enough, and I had forgotten that Chipper played any SS that season.

  35. Lots of good hitters crowd the plate. If it’s working for them, why change it now? Save the adjustments for when there’s a reason to adjust.

  36. @42: Nobody blames you, blazon. How lucky you were to see history *literally* unfold in person as you did. Finally finding out the answer to a question so old that nobody even remembers they ever wondered it: the 4-bag hit was named long ago in honor of the pitcher who would one day deliver Lord Acuña’s first.

  37. @55 Think their projections are going to be playing catch up for a bit. For one, they’re still underselling on Dansby Swanson — they could always be right, but if no there’s potential for a significant gap in projected vs actual value. I also notice their projection is low for Freeman, too. Let’s see if their projection rises above 81–that would be fun.

  38. Does anyone else find it funny that we have this level of optimism after going 2-2 against a team that’s 5-20?

    (I mean, I get it…but…)

  39. Yeah, definitely Acuna’s arrival, but I know I was quite frustrated with the starting pitchers after losing the first two. My Cards fan friend asked me, “You know the Reds suck, right?”

  40. krussell, not really. Any team can beat any other team in a short series. If the Braves continue to add pieces, and that’s the key, then they can be a pretty good team.

    They’ve had good fortune so far. It needs to continue for them to have a shot, or they need to be in the mode of buying.

  41. The thing different about this team that gives me some hope is that they don’t win 4 or 5 and then turn around and lose 5 or 6. The Bobby Cox axiom of winning the series seems to apply. We got off to a bad start against a terrible Reds team then turned around and finished the series strong. We’ve also been able to hold our own against good teams.

  42. Every series we have played except one has been against teams with winning records, so 14-10 is definitely a solid month.

  43. Tyler Flowers was activated and Carlos Perez DFA’d. Wisler sent down to AAA and Chase Whitley is up. I guess Fried will start in Wisler’s spot next time.

  44. What a fabulous AB by Acuna!!! Nola pitched him almost perfectly and he didn’t wave at good curveball strikes and fought off pitch after pitch until Ozzie rattled Nola by stealing home (on the first ball to Acuna) and then he doubled. That is some of the most aggressive, professional baseball I have seen in many years. What an inning!!!

  45. For all of the talk about “how bad the bullpen is” and “how bad Culberson and Bourjos are”, why aren’t more people railing on our starting pitching? We’re 19th in WAR, and WAR is not even quantifying the exponentiating effect that these short outings are having on a very good but shallow bullpen. We don’t need a top-5 guy, but we at least need one top-50 guy, and our best guy, per WAR, can’t be Sean Newcomb like it is right now. Blech.

  46. Julio’s fastball barely cracking 87mph so far. That’s three tics down from his last start. My guess is they are going to have to pull him soon – he ain’t got it. Might be a good spot to insert Fried early.

  47. Chip and Joe and Paul Byrd insist that Julio is not hurt (or else someone would be warming up). But his fastball is topping out at 87. Something is wrong.

  48. Yeah, something’s up with Julio. For those not watching, Snitker, Chuck Hernandez and the trainer were all talking to him just now trying to figure out what’s going on. As Roger alluded to, his best fastball tonight has been at 88 mph, and I only remember one even reaching that mark.

    EDIT: It does look like he’s gonna come back out for the third, though. Maybe he’s sick or something…who knows? Something’s definitely off, though.

  49. In some ways, I see some similarities with Julio and Matt Harvey. Former studs that have lost both their way and their velocities and currently sit as shells of their former selves with both teams thinking they can right the ship and are worth keeping. But one gets to pitch in Atlanta and doesn’t get the third degree from reporters, and one is in New York and hates his life.

  50. If you had told me in 2015 that in 2018 we would have a really good team, but our starting pitching would be the weakness of the team, I’d probably tell you they should ban Coppy from baseball.

  51. Julio is holding it together with masking tape and chewing gum right now, but he is holding it together so far.

  52. Now, a more insistent Snitker is again talking to Julio in the dugout and Max Fried just got up in the bullpen.

  53. Rob, I think you’re overreacting. The starters are not good, but they are also not really bad. Starters’ ERA, last time I looked, was top 5 in the league. WAR is not so good because of the inability to go past 5-6 innings.
    Of course we could use someone who pitches well deeper into the game. But the starters are kind of what I expected. The shocking things about this team is the league leading offense.

  54. I realize your main point is that the starters short outings are messing up the bullpen. I’m with you there. We do need more innings from the starters. I think we’ll start to see that over the next month. (Except maybe not from Julio–he must be hurt)

  55. My guess is the Mike Soroka era may be beginning very soon, as well.

    Hopefully Fried can eat some innings tonight.

  56. @89

    If he’s injured, I’m just not sure why he’s throwing three innings. On the other hand, if he’s just sick, I’m not sure why they lifted him from the game. So, I really don’t know.

  57. Right upper trap tightness is the official word on Julio. That’s a shoulder-area muscle, apparently.

  58. @90 I doubt it. Fried will earn the right to pitch in Teheran’s spot and then the plan going forward will be either Gohara or Sanchez or Wisler the next time the 5th spot comes up.

  59. Do normal people have a right upper trap?

    Ahh… thanks Google. It’s normally called the trapezius. Even I have one of those…. two actually.

  60. @96

    Hence why the Braves bothered to call it trap tightness instead of shoulder tightness, I suspect. They wanted it known that it’s the muscle and to not freak out.

  61. When Fried hung the curve in the 12th leading to the walk off homer earlier this week, it was clear that Max (foolishly) shook off Suzuki. When Herrera just hit that one, he was clearly looking for the curve; jt was the third straight hook Fried had thrown him.
    Did anyone notice whether Fried shook off Suzuki this time?

  62. That was a tough luck top of the 7th. 3 hits, and Dansby hit it better than any of them. Just to the wrong place. What BABIP giveth, it can take away.

  63. @98 I saw that and though they shouldn’t have thrown three curves in a row. Still I was hoping Snit wouldn’t pull Fried for a PH with two outs. I thought it might be better to save Camargo for a more promising moment.

  64. Hindsight is easy, I know, but does it strike you as odd that Snit turned to the guy just called up in a one run game in the 7th? Neither Winkler nor Minter pitched yesterday.

  65. This may be one of those times he’s thinking about the long term health of the bullpen, even at the cost of not maximizing the chance of winning this game.

  66. Not that I think this crowd would, but I swear, if people overrun this beautiful blog with GIFs, I’ll… I don’t know… complain.

    This is enough damage for one night.

  67. the mundane
    exists only as contrast that best we explain
    to so much happier highs
    the norm is what matters, that gleam in our eyes.

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