The 2011 season ended with such a horrific collapse that the 2012 Atlanta Braves needed to remind the fans that the team was actually good, and they did just that.
The Skinny on the 2012 Atlanta Braves
Record: 94-68 2nd in NL East
Lost to St Louis Cardinals 6-3 in Wildcard game
700 runs scored 600 runs allowed
Manager: Fredi Gonzalez
GM: Frank Wren
Scouting director: Tony Demacio
Best Players and WAR
Top Prospects by Prognosticators
FanGraphs: 1. Julio Teheran 2. J.R. Graham 3. Christian Bethancourt 4. Lucas Sims 5. Sean Gilmartin
John Sickels 1. Julio Teheran 2. Arodys Vizcaino 3. Randall Delgado 4. Andrelton Simmons 5. Sean Gilmartin
In Actuality 1. Andrelton Simmons 2. Julio Teheran 3. Alex Wood 4. Evan Gattis 5. Nick Ahmed
The combination of John Scheurholz’s iron-fisted determination to pay no more than slot for a draftee with scouting Director Tony Demacio’s love for high-floor/no future prospects resulted in one of the all-time worst drafts in MLB history. 2nd rounder Wood and 22nd rounder Shae Simmons were the only positive MLB contributors out of the 5 draftees that ever saw the show. At least this was better than the 2013 draft class led by Victor Caratini and his career 0.9 WAR, but yeesh!
After trading Derek Lowe to the Indians and letting the good Alex Gonzalez (Sea Bass!) leave as a free agent, the team did virtually nothing during the offseason, with Livan Hernandez being the only addition of note. Tyler Pastornicky was anointed as the new shortstop and Tommy Hanson moved into the rotation full time. Chipper announced his retirement for the end of the season.
Most prognosticators had the Braves pegged for 2nd in the division behind Washington. Vegas set the line at 89 wins.
How it played out
Pastornicky did about as well as one would expect a 15 year old to do in the show (What? He was really 22? Who would have guessed?) He put up a 65 OPS+ and combined it with a complete inability to field his position as he put up what would have been an historic -50 defensive season had he been allowed more rope.
Overall the season started with a sweep by the Mets in New York, followed by another loss to a woeful Astros squad in Houston. Two victories to close out the series set the stage for a 50k+ opening day crowd seeing a wild 10-8 victory over the Brew Crew. Starting a trend, Jair Jurrjens had nothing but huge games from Brian McCann and Dan Uggla saved the day.
At the break the team was 46-39 and just 3.5 games behind Washington. With Jurrjens imploding and clearly hurt, the team turned to long-time Brewer Big Ben Sheets on July 1st. He hit the ground running giving up 0 or 1 run in 5 of his first 6 starts before the wheels came off down the stretch. By this point slick-fielding Jack Wilson had supplanted Pastornicky at short, but Jack could no longer hit at all. On July 14th we traded AAA pitcher Todd Redmund to Cincinnati and got back their light-hitting, slick-fielder Paul Janish. Figuring to go with the devil-you-don’t-know just yet, the team plugged him in at short and somehow got the greatest month of his life, before he remembered he was Paul Janish and was in turn replaced by AA farmhand Andrelton Simmons. The team would finish on a 48-29 (.623) kick and almost — but not quite — catch the Nationals. Along the way we traded for Reed Johnson and Paul Maholm from the Cubs who both provided some nice moments. There was much grumbling in the clubhouse and here on Braves Journal when no other deadline deals were consummated, but financial flexibility was a thing in 2012 as well.
Sam Holbrook and the Evil that is the Cardinals
Kris Medlen had been a revelation all season, at one point having the team win a MLB record 22 of his starts in a row. He got the nod from Gonzalez to take on 16-3 Kyle Lohse of the Cards in the Wildcard game at Turner Field. We got off to an excellent start with David Ross, the practically perfect backup catcher, hitting a 2nd inning shot to make it 2-0. Unfortunately, the Cards responded with 3 in the 4th after a bad error by Chipper Jones with 2 on and 2 out opened the floodgates. The deficit would grow to 6-3 entering the bottom of the 8th.
With runners on 1st and 2nd, Simba lifted a pop into left where it dropped between the shortstop and the left fielder. While (new Braves MiLB signee..gag) Pete Kozma, the shortstop, did call for the play, it was apparent that he did so merely to keep from being barreled over by the left fielder. Left Field Umpire Sam Holbrook waited until it was clear the ball would drop and only then invoked the infield-fly rule.
Pandemonium ensued. The game was delayed 19 minutes while fans threw stuff onto the field and arguments raged. Fredi Gonzalez protested the game, but MLB was having none of that and immediately denied the protest. Instead of a 1 out based loaded situation, we had runners 2nd and 3rd with 2 outs. A groundout ended the threat. In the 9th Chipper got an infield hit, the final one of his career, and Freddie hit a ground-rule double but that was it: Devil-magic had reigned supreme again. 6-3 for the Cards.
Thanks for reading about the 2012 Atlanta Braves. If you liked this piece, check out our Braves Prospects lists .