Don’t worry–real baseball starts Thursday

I’ll take my lead from Seat Painter and JonathanF, which is always a good idea.  You don’t need to read a recap of Saturday’s game.  It doesn’t matter!  Instead, I’ll take the recapper’s prerogative and share my ruminations on the postseason.

If you insist on a result, IWOTM 3, Braves 0, on a couple of homers–BUT IT DOESN’T MATTER!

–The playoffs are a crapshoot.  Momentum doesn’t matter.  It makes no difference that the Braves are not playing well right now. So chill, everyone.

–Strong pitching teams don’t necessarily have an advantage over teams whose strength is slugging—or vice versa.  Small ball doesn’t necessarily defeat three run homes, or vice versa.  On second thought, give me a few three run homers in a postseason series, and I’ll take my chances every time.

–Moreover, the best team over the course of the season doesn’t necessarily win.  Some of the best Braves teams ever were 1993, 1997, and 1998.  They were certainly better than the 1993 Phillies, the 1997 Marlins, and the 1998 Padres.

–Some guys do really well in October.  It’s not just Hall of Famers like Mr. October Reggie Jackson.  From Al Weis to the Hatchers, Micky and Billy, to Mark Lemke to Steve Pearce, some guys come up big on the big stage.  Most of the time that is luck and the magic of the small sample size.  On the other hand, maybe some players handle the spotlight and the pressure better than others. I have no way of knowing that.

The point is, anything can happen.  That’s what makes it fun! 

–Still, you need to do whatever you can to put yourself in the best position to win.  In that regard, I don’t get starting Mike Soroka in game 3.  He’s their best pitcher, and he ought to get two starts.  Soroka will be able to start game two on Friday even after pitching on Sunday, and then he’d be available on regular rest for a game 5 if necessary.  Let’s hope he does.  I don’t put much stock in the home/road splits.  That’s more small sample size noise. 

–One thing that does matter is health.  It’s tough that the Braves will be without Culberson, Inciarte, and Camargo.  But it could be worse.  I know the Brewers have been phenomenal since Yelich went down, but their chances of going deep in the playoffs without one of the best players in the league are not good.  Speaking of best players in the league, it will be very tough if either Freddie or Ronald are not healthy.  One of my favorite seasons of all time was 2010. Like this year, there were lots of comeback wins and interesting characters.  Most importantly, it was Bobby Cox’s last season, and it would have been great to get him a title.  Unfortunately, by the time the playoffs came around, the Braves were without two of their best hitters, Chipper Jones and Martin Prado.  It was a tight series; I was at both of the 3-2 losses in Atlanta, and it was as raucous as I have ever seen a Braves crowd.  Those Giants went on to the first of their three WS championships in the past decade.  With Chipper and Prado, it could easily have been the Braves beating the Rangers.  Or not.  It’s a crapshoot after all.

–Among the many insights that Bill James brought to students of the game in the early 1980’s was the relative unimportance of batting average.  That’s seems obvious to you guys, but trust me, 40 years ago baseball people were convinced that batting average was the most important offensive stat.  Who is the league’s leading hitter?  The guy with the highest batting average.  In the Sunday paper when they published stats, how did they rank teams offensively?  By team batting average, not, as one might expect, by runs scored.  Most baseball fans thought Enos Cabell was a better hitter than Darrell Evans because he hit .290 to Evans .240.  Darrell Evans led the league in walks and had excellent power, while Cabell rarely walked and had little pop.  Everyone today knows how much better Evans was than Cabell. 

— But something in me wants Ozzie to finish with a .300 average. What can I say, I grew up in an era when a .300 average was the mark of an excellent hitter. Prejudices learned early in life are hard to overcome.

–Intentional walks are almost always a bad strategy.  But when there are runners on second and third with two outs and Folty on deck, of course you walk the batter—even when the batter is Billy Hamilton.  Folty ranks as one of the worst hitting pitchers I have ever seen in my 55 years of following baseball.

–With the Braves having clinched a while back, and knowing that they will have the second best record in the league no matter what, scoreboard watching doesn’t make a lot of sense.  But, man, I’d love for the Cards and the Brewers to finish in a tie.

This is my third season as a weekly recapper.  But this isn’t my last recap of the season.  Although the Braves won’t play on Saturday in the NLDS, I look forward to recapping game two of the NLCS, and then game four of the World Series when the Braves finish the sweep of the Yankees.  It’s a crapshoot, of course, but who’s to say we won’t roll a 7?

Author: tfloyd

Tfloyd was born on the site of Atlanta Fulton County Stadium. Before the stadium was built, that is; it was then the site of Piedmont Hospital. It took the Braves another 11 years to arrive on what is now Hank Aaron Drive, but I‘ve always liked to arrive at the ballpark early.

60 thoughts on “Don’t worry–real baseball starts Thursday”

  1. Well done, tfloyd.

    An open question to those who found Dansby’s 4-5 on Wednesday “monumental.” Is his 0-5 with 4 Ks tonight antimonumental? A thought exercise: assume he’d had two hits in each of these two games…. Same total hits. Do you feel different? Why?

  2. @4 – I think I would feel a lot better about 2 hits each night. The 4ks tonight are pretty concerning. We need consistency. It just seems he is still searching.

  3. When shall we three meet again
    in thunder, lightning or in rain.

    when the hurley burley’s done
    when the battle’s lost and won

    when the Braves have scored another run.

  4. @4

    Semantic curmudgeonly and unnecessarily aggressive.

    What we should both be concerned with is his 0 for five against a left handed pitcher well down in the pecking order.

    He’s either very tired or hurting again. Freddie also, much concern. Fried super, Folty silly – spinning off the mound like a top, throwing the Alonzo #53.

  5. Pardon, but what is a poet if not a “semantic curmudgeon?” And as for “unnecessarily aggressive,” I reply merely that “He’s either very tired or hurting again” is logically incomplete, since you left out the obvious “or had a bad day” which was indeed the point of my post and to which you give inexplicably inadequate credence with no supporting evidence. THAT is “unnecessarily aggressive.”

    Apologies to all… playoff anticipation has me slightly cranky.

  6. Nothing to apologize for JonathanF, and great post tfloyd. There is a natural tendency to attach more significance to recent outcomes, and baseball is perhaps the sport where what happened last game is the least predictive of what will happen next game.

  7. Thank you, tfloyd. It ain’t over. There’s October baseball to be played. And won.

    @4: my thoughts on this were posted JC fashion post before last in response (64) to Roger’s “silencing his critics” comment. By popular demand it was not brought forward but remains immortalized with the other dead words of that day.

  8. On TC this morning ITG expounded on the subject of Max Fried – he of the stellar show last night – by saying it is currently believed he, Fried, they do not want to start but keep him for multiple appearances in relief.

    If this is true can someone explain which of the two following scenarios applies –

    1 You are so good we can’t have a situation where you get to pitch only once in 5 days. Keeping you in the pen means you’re much more accessible to us more often.

    2. We really don’t have much confidence in you as a starter, very hot and cold, so by keeping you in the pen we minimize the chance of a game loss in just the first few innings.

    Or is there a third? Ta.

  9. @11–thanks coop, and thanks for sharing your earlier, delightful, JC’ed comment. Baseball is unpredictable, but of one thing I’m certain: your criticism of Lt. Dans will never be silenced.

  10. Peanut reports that Snitker said to ask Freddie if his elbow was hurting. Freeman left the clubhouse before media were allowed in. Earlier, Freeman declared his elbow healthy, but appeared to be favoring it on TV last night.


  11. @4 @11 My comments were not meant to be taken as thinking Dansby is ready for the HOF. I think 4/5 showed he was getting his stroke back and the 4Ks shows he’s not altogether there yet. If you recall, I also mentioned that the 4/5 included no XBH. I think that’s when you can declare Dansby back in form is when he’s starting to hit the ball consistently enough and hard enough to get XBH and a few over the wall.

    The other thing the last few games show is that resting is not enough to get Freddie back in form. The Braves definitely need to find production from someone other than Freddie. He will not be back in form until his elbow is actually fixed – free from spurs. What that likely means is that Donaldson has to do the heavy lifting.

    Regardless of the performances of Keuchel and Folty the last couple of days, our pitching is ready. The bullpen, including Fried, has been stellar and the starters good enough. What carried this team through the entire season was the bats, in particular, the HRs. Even if the Braves turn into 8 Markakis’ and hit over .300 with all singles, we will not win. We cannot just morph into the Royals* overnight and win. OTOH, the Cards, in particular, do not give up HRs to anyone – third fewest in the Majors – and yet they only won 90 games. They are not a good hitting team. They do steal a lot of bases so that’s not good for us.

    BTW, how many runs has this team scored in the 7th-9th since Culby and Camargo went down? Not a whole lot. Hech and Cervelli are OK, but they are not the same deep bench that kept us in games all year long.

    As it is right now, the team has about an even chance of beating the Cards but will have no shot against the Dodgers without more bats.

  12. Yeah, “icon” is a bit much, but he is something of a cult hero for Chicago, and his post-playing career popularity gets him into this mix between a cult hero and “icon”.

  13. OK—maybe I don’t want Soroka to get two starts in the division series.

    Just kidding; he’ll be fine. I think he will rise to the occasion in the playoffs.

  14. I told you guys weeks ago I trusted no one in this rotation. They have done nothing to change my opinion going into the postseason.

    Too many ded players to have a chance to win.

  15. @18 There’s really no reason not to have played Freeman though, and they gave him the early hook. If anything it was encouraging to see him get a knock against Thor.

  16. It would be a problem going into the postseason if several of your players are dead. If, on the other hand, they are not dead but merely slumping, that condition may be ameliorated.

  17. I am listening now to Keith Hernandez discuss his 9000 piece jigsaw puzzle he will be assembling in the offseason. I have been critical of overreaction to every piece of information in the last week, but I’d like to take this moment to thank the Braves for allowing me to think about the playoffs and not jigsaw puzzles.

  18. Cardinals up big. Looks like they will be in Atlanta on Thursday.

    Keuchel vs. Mikolas in Game 1.
    Folty vs. Flaherty in Game 2.
    Soroka vs. Dakota Hudson in Game 3 most likely.

  19. Cardinals have all RHP starters.

    CF Acuña
    2b Albies
    1b Freeman
    3b Donaldson
    LF Markakis
    RF Joyce
    SS Swanson
    C McFlowers

    Keuchel and Teheran have been better pitching to Flowers. Folty and Fried have been better with McCann. Soroka has been good with either.

    Seems like the Braves are leaning toward going with Teheran in Game 4. Wainwright would be the probable starter for St. Louis.

  20. If we had had O’Day in this kind of shape all year, we might have won more than 100 games and we might still have Allard in our minor league system.

  21. I fear Austin Riley is a bust. He’s not shown a single positive sign since June. If we don’t re-sign Donaldson and pencil Riley in at 3B, hoo boy.

  22. Keith Hernandez: “I don’t see why Hechevarria takes it so personally.”
    Gary Cohen: “Well, he was released one day before the Mets would have been obligated to pay him a million dollars.”
    Keith: “Oh, then I guess I see why he takes it personally.”

  23. Allow me to translate Adeiny Hechavarria: “I would like to thank God for removing that ball from the Mets ballpark.”

  24. @37 I vote for ALL the money, too!!

    Side note: I feel like Donaldson hits a HUGE HR somewhere for us in these playoffs!

  25. @34 The idea of Julio starting game 4 of a playoff series makes me cringe, especially if Atlanta isn’t up 2-1 going in. Bad Julio could end a run quick.

  26. @47 I don’t remember Atlanta forking out for Bourn. I could be wrong, but I think Bossman Jr. is the largest contract Atlanta’s given out to a FA?

  27. Womp, womp.

    @50: No, they didn’t. I just feel like I remember people here saying “all the money” because they wanted the Braves to re-sign Bourn. I think it was him.

  28. Side note #2: I quick Google searched Maddux’s contract, thinking it might’ve been large. I was just a little tike in those days. 5 years @ 28 million is all!?! The Braves practically stole that man!!

  29. @51 Ooooohh…

    Well, I won’t throw stones, because I’d have signed Nick Swisher for a gazillion dollars a few times; or traded a few prospects and an entire city in Georgia for him…

    I had an irrational fandom of Swish. I’d imagine most of us fans have had a player or two like that for us. Glass house here for sure. Lol.

  30. The Nationals only finished four back of the Braves too. Last I saw, they were like ten back, but they won nine in a row to end the season while the Braves went into a tailspin.

    Of course, one bad game on Tuesday and they’re out regardless.

  31. As much as I’d have liked to have won that game, there were a lot more positives than negatives. Considering Swarzak and Dayton won’t make the roster, everything else looks OK. Greene is looking more shaky than he did for a while. At least we hit a few balls hard by guys that will be on the roster – Hech, Duvall. And Dansby doubled. The pitching was OK until the 11th.

    OTOH, this is the kind of game we’ve been winning all season when we had the petal to the metal. Letting up and taking a break is a lot harder to come back from than it may seem.

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