10 For 10’s: The 2013 Atlanta Braves Season

The 2013 Atlanta Braves won 96 games, on the way to their 2nd NL East divisional title of the decade. The Braves ripped off a 10 game winning streak in April to open the season 12 – 1, and added a 14 game winning streak from July 26th to August 9th. The 96 wins were second in the decade only to the 97 wins posted in 2019, and were enough to secure the division by 10 games over the Washington Nationals.

Offseason

The Braves made a splash in the offseason, signing 28 year old free agent centerfielder B.J. Upton (now Melvin Upton Jr.) to a 5 year contract worth $75.25 million in November, then trading for his brother, leftfielder Justin Upton and 3rd baseman Chris Johnson. Martin Prado, Nick Ahmed, Randall Delgado, Brandon Drury, and Zeke Spruill went to Arizona in the January deal.

Opening Day

Time, like an ever-rolling stream,
Bears all its sons away;
They fly, forgotten, as a dream
Dies at the op’ning day.

Isaac Watts

2013 marked the first full season without Braves Journal founder Mac Thomason. Alex made sure Mac was not forgotten with an opening day game thread consisting of one of Mac’s best works, and my personal favorite. Going forward, the previous game’s recap typically served as the next game’s game thread.

Opening Day lineup:
Andrelton Simmons SS
Jason Heyward RF
Justin Upton LF
Freddie Freeman 1B
B.J. Upton CF
Dan Uggla 2B
Chris Johnson 3B
Gerald Laird C
Tim Hudson P

The Braves took the opener 7 – 5 (defeating Cole Hamels) and finished April with a 17 – 9 record.

Y’all Gonna Make Me Lose My Mind

The Upton era began auspiciously as B.J and Justin tied, then walked off the Cubs on April 6th, with home runs in the 9th. However, while Justin finished the season with a .263/.354/.464 BA/OBP/SLG line, and 27 homers, B.J. fell off a cliff, at.184/.268/289. The Chris Johnson addition proved more fruitful, as the 28 year old posted a career year, .321/.358/.457, and finished 2nd in the league in batting average.

Today, as we live and breathe, Justin Upton is only 32 years old.

The legend of El Oso Blanco

Evan Gattis hit his first major league homer while his father was being interviewed live. Gattis got into 104 games, mostly splitting time between Left Field and Catcher, and hit .243/.291/.480 with 21 homers. He’s a pretty cool story; he and Andrelton are probably my two favorite players of the decade.

Of Note

Baseball Reference credited Andrelton Simmons with 7.0 WAR, the highest single season for a Brave in the decade. Check out this legendary Braves Journal series: Which Andrelton Simmons Catch was Better?

The starting rotation was led by 3 virtually indistinguishable pitchers:

NameGSWERAWHIPbWAR
Mike Minor32133.211.092.9
Kris Medlen31153.111.222.9
Julio Teheran30143.201.172.7

Craig Kimbrel recorded 50 saves, and struck out 98 in 67 innings, while allowing only 39 hits. The 50 saves led the Majors.

Freddie Freeman hit .319/.396/.501 with 23 homers and 109 RBI’s and why am I telling you this you aren’t even the least little bit surprised.

Somehow the Braves put together a 96 win season with two starters who did not approach the Mendoza Line. Dan Uggla posted a .179 batting average, although he somehow managed a .309 on base percentage. Uggla’s 22 homers contributed to a .362 slugging percentage.

Good-byes

2013 marked the final season for several notable Braves. Tim Hudson broke his ankle covering first base on July 24th, and missed the remainder of the season. The previous day’s recap served as the game thread. The 38 year old Hudson signed with the Giants as a free agent, and put together a couple more seasons, finishing with a 222 – 133 record. Has anyone here ever done a Keltner List on Hudson?

Brian McCann signed with the Yankees as a free agent in December. McCann was 29 at the time and posted a .256/.336/.461 line with 20 homers for the Braves in 2013. Brian returned to the Braves for a final season in 2019.

Eric O’Flaherty underwent Tommy John surgery on May 21st, and signed with Oakland as a free agent during the offseason. O’Flaherty returned to the Braves for parts of the 2016 and 2017 seasons, but was never again really effective after the surgery.

NL East Final Standings

TeamWinsLosses%GB
Braves9666.593
Nationals8676.53110
Mets7488.45722
Phillies7389.45123
Marlins62100.38334

Playoffs

The Braves finished 1 game behind the 97 – 65 St. Louis Cardinals for the top spot in the NL playoffs, and took on the 92 – 70 Los Angeles Dodgers in the NLDS. The Dodgers were in control throughout, taking game 1 in Atlanta 6 – 1, and went back to Dodger Stadium with a split. After the Dodgers took game 3 handily, 13 – 6, the Braves took a 3 – 2 lead in the 7th inning of game 4. However, the Dodgers scored 2 in the 8th for the final score. As per the 2013 custom, the previous recap served as the game thread.

Game 4 lineup:
Jason Heyward CF
Justin Upton RF
Freddie Freeman 1B
Evan Gattis LF
Brian McCann C
Chris Johnson 3B
Andrelton Simmons SS
Elliot Johnson 2B
Freddy Garcia P

Thanks for reading about the 2013 Atlanta Braves. If you enjoyed this piece, take a look at our 2010 Atlanta Braves reflection.

Long Live Braves Journal!

Author: Rusty S.

Rusty S. is a Braves Journal reader since 2005 and an occasional innings-eater. It was my understanding that there would be no expectations.

92 thoughts on “10 For 10’s: The 2013 Atlanta Braves Season”

  1. For the life of me I’ll never understand how a team with that many burgeoning stars under 25 couldn’t be the core of a perennial playoff contender, but the teardown is long under the bridge and I promise I’ll stop complaining about it eventually.

  2. @1
    I think the mere fact that Wren has been killing the far by “drafting for need” made the sell off happen a year before it should’ve and that was unfortunate for that team that likely deserved a “prove it” year after finishing 79-83 in 2014.

  3. Wonderful job, Rusty.

    Watts also wrote “Celestial fruits on earthly ground from faith and hope may grow,” but alas, despite the faith and hope engendered by that young and exciting roster, we were denied the promised celestial fruits.

    No need to relitigate the teardown, but it will be interesting to see if our current exciting young roster can sustain success.

  4. @5, good point well taken and I promise I’ll try to stop relitigating the teardown! The key lesson to be learned is how to keep a core productive for decades, which we did successfully in the ’90s and early ’00s, but unsuccessfully in the early 2010s:

    • Draft and develop well, and use that to generate a few key stars who you extend. (Freeman, Acuna, Albies.)
    • Fill other key positions by trading surplus value, and be willing to give up blue-chippers if the value is worth it. (The bullpen restocking from last summer.)
    • When you’re acquiring free agents, you should look to give on dollars but hold firm on years. (Donaldson, Hamels, etc. This is why we didn’t get Kimbrel, and it’s why we haven’t gotten JD yet. Clearly a key lesson learned from Upton and Lowe.)
    • When you’re extending your own players, be more willing to extend the players you developed than the players you signed or traded for. (Key lesson from the Uggla and Johnson extensions, though it’s not ironclad, as you could see from the Martin extension.)

  5. Alex, as far as I’m concerned you can bring up the teardown (and criticize it) as often as you wish. I enjoy it—and I still do it myself on occasion.

    My main point was to try to discern how to stay competitive, and you have done a masterful job @7 of identifying the most important factors.

  6. The Astros…Luhnow and Hinch get 1 year suspensions, team fined 5 Million and loss of 1st and 2nd round picks in 2020 na d2021

  7. Cora’s punishment will come after the Red Sox investigation is complete. Frankly, anything less than a lifetime ban would be offensive after Coppy.

  8. @ 7,

    It is related to your first bullet, but it has its own ramifications, so I will propose to add:

    Work hard on International Free Agents, spend your slot, and get lots of signees and train and develop them all well.

    (in a few years, it may be talking about 2 drafts). Then, maybe add:

    And check in on the 5 year expensive IFA’s but don’t commit often except when direct need and opportunity intersect with a highly proven player.

  9. @11, very good point — IFAs are absolutely critical, from massively high-profile guys like Teheran and Maitan who signed for millions in their teens, to lower-profile guys like Acuna (bonus of $100K) and Albies (bonus of $350K), whose bonuses were in six figures rather than seven, to true lottery ticket guys like Johan Camargo ($42K).

    Even with the busts like Maitan, the team was only out a few million bucks — the international free agent market is unique in how extremely high rewards are balanced with low risks, as long as you’re willing to spread around your simoleons.

    I think stripping the Stros of their 1st and 2nd rounders for two years in a row is a pretty big punishment, especially because they’ll lose the slot value associated with those picks which will make it very difficult to get much value out of those drafts. But the disparate punishment to the GM is extraordinarily striking. They really wanted to make an example of Coppy, even if it makes them hypocrites whenever they decline to use the same punishment on anyone else.

  10. To follow up on Houston, I think the punishment was:

    1) Harsher than I thought it would be, and
    2) Not nearly harsh enough

    The loss of draft picks will sting, sure, but I think a postseason ban of some sort was in order, or losing an entire draft, or a year or two’s IFA money at least.

    From the report, Hinch probably got what he deserved, Cora needs at least 2 years, but I think a lifetime ban is appropriate. Lunhow really should’ve gotten the hammer though. Teams were warned that punishment would fall on GM and managers, and according to the report though he didn’t direct anyone to steal signs, he was aware of it and never really answered for that. From the report “Although Luhnow denies having any awareness that his replay
    review room staff was decoding and transmitting signs, there is both documentary and
    testimonial evidence that indicates Luhnow had some knowledge of those efforts, but he
    did not give it much attention. “

  11. The suspensions are actually less than one year. They begin today and end after the conclusion of the World Series.

  12. Well, nevermind. Hinch and Luhnow have been fired.

    And it seems Manfred dropped a lifetime ban on Brandon Taubman.

  13. Agreed 100%, @13.

    Now the question is, will anyone hire Luhnow? Or will he have to go be an analyst on MLB Network like Jim Bowden, who presided over one of baseball’s last huge scandals, the international free agent skimming scheme?

    Taubman is eligible to apply for reinstatement after the World Series, so it’s not a true permanent ban, as those have no specified reinstatement dates. (Of course, some of those folks can get reinstated anyway, like George Steinbrenner, who was permanently banned for hiring Howard Spira to dig up dirt on Dave Winfield, but eventually got allowed back into baseball anyway because he’s George Steinbrenner. I’m betting that his example is a big part of the reason why Pete Rose has held out hope that he’ll be welcomed back some day.)

  14. Someone will probably hire them both in smaller roles after the band are up. I could see like assistant GM and bench coach. But that is a severe blow to what was a successful career for both to this point.

  15. @ 12 and other places as to Coppollella,

    The lifetime ban was what MLB went to after they said “we’ve got you on this” and he said, “no, not me. That’s not my picture.” Also, the Braves were “round 2” after a stern warning.

    And, as to Hinch, MLB has released evidence that he did some things to disrupt it or stop it. To me, that deserves some slack. As to Cora, with him running the sideshow in Houston and then in charge when it started the second time in Boston, Cora should get a lot bigger hit than Hinch.

    Here Astros were in Round 2, generally, and Boston in Round 2, specifically. I think

  16. Even with their subsequent firings, the punishment was light. I’m sure some people will conflate the two events — the suspension and then the firing — into one singular event (“they lost their jobs because they cheated”), but this was weak. And now Jim Crane gets to wash his hands of all of it and look good. People saying “Jim Crane took the punishment further”. No he didn’t; he protected his own backside.

  17. This comment might be better served for the 2014 Braves post when it is published, but here goes.

    The 2014 Braves, the team that motivated the teardown, actually had a really good pitching staff. That in of itself was borderline miraculous with the devastating injuries to Medlen, Minor, and Beachy. They went over budget to sign Ervin Santana, got a good season from Aaron Harang who was picked up off the scrap heap, and Julio had one of his best seasons along with Alex Wood. The bullpen headed by Kimbrel was excellent.

    But outside of Freddie, Justin Upton, Gattis, and to a lesser extent Heyward, the offense was abysmal especially during the last 2 months. The team got nothing from 3b, CF, 2b, and SS offensively. And there was not much talent in the minors. (Though Acuña and Albies were signed during the Wren administration.)

    And Scherholz really hated Frank Wren as the character assassination articles came out from Braves state media after he was fired, which I found pointless and classless on the Braves part. They would have been better off just saying they wanted to go in another direction and left it at that.

  18. So if the Atlanta Braves make the World Series next year, then this will be an incredible period of history where the vast majority of participants in the World Series for 4 years (2017-2020) have been dirty rotten cheaters. LA had their rumors of international signing impropriety, Houston, Boston, and Atlanta. During that time period, seemingly the only “clean” team was the Nationals.

  19. And Rob at 21,

    Wasn’t the Jim Bowden international signings scandal stuff that happened when he was with the Nats.
    P

  20. @18:

    I find it so strange that Hinch had the stones to destroy the monitor twice but not put an end to it for good. Tough for him — his players and Alex Cora really f****d him.

  21. In doing this series, it’s really given me an appreciation for what Anthopoulos has done in the 3 years he’s been here. I’m sure there’s been temptation to make a big trade and dump prospects, and I’m sure that will happen at some point, but the Braves have:
    1. Won the division 2 years in a row.
    2. Graduated a ton of prospects and still have a top-5 farm, despite huge sanctions from Coppygate.
    3. Signed 2 young players to huge extensions, but didn’t go crazy on risky extensions.
    4. Have made good signings without overcommitting on years.

    Yes, he walked in the door at the right time but one cannot deny his moves thus far have been brilliant. The one thing I expect before this season begins is trading off some of the 40-man clutter. Guys such as Jasseel De La Cruz, William Contreras, Huascar Ynoa, and Alex Jackson, who likely have no spot on the 2020 25-man get swapped out in bulk to meet needs.

  22. Cora appears to be the worst offender by far. His involvement was extensive and fundamental and then repeated in another conspiracy with the Sox. If Hinch got a 1 yr ban despite having nothing to do with it and even trying to stop it, although not doing enough, then Cora could very well get a lifetime ban. And deservedly so in my book. At the least he’s going to get a multi yr ban.

  23. @7 – It would be interesting if someone did a breakdown of Schuerholtz’s work during that period, and contrast it to the teardown. Was the only difference spending? I don’t think so.

  24. Yeah, if Alex Cora doesn’t get a lifetime ban at this point, I don’t even know what to say. How many times did he run through whatever roadblock was put up (however lame and ineffectual the roadblock was) and brazenly continue with the sign stealing?

    @27, My only guess on why Hinch didn’t put a stop to it for good is that to do so, he probably would’ve had to go public and out both Cora and his players. They clearly weren’t responding to internal passive-aggressive attempts to stop it.

  25. Yeah, I feel like there’s about to be an epic suspension coming down on Cora. I would think multiple years, which would heavily derail, if not ruin, his career in management.

  26. I don’t think there’s ever going to be a cool name for a stadium again. Too much money in selling the name. Only can hope for cool nicknames at this point.

  27. @27, that part stuck out to me as well. The manager is passively-aggressively destroying team property to signal to his players that he disapproves of what they’re doing, without just telling them to knock it off? Even as a cover-your-*** move, that seems… strange.

  28. Also, it’s never more apparent that the Commissioner serves at the pleasure of the owners than when Manfred uses the first paragraph of his report to completely exonerate Jim Crane and takes great pains throughout to divide the guilty baseball ops people from the owner’s innocent folks on the business side. Not that I’m saying Crane necessarily did anything wrong. Just funny to see

  29. With regards to Cora and Hinch, aren’t middle infielders and catchers born with the instinct to steal signs? :-)

  30. Perhaps Hinch is the victim of the modern puppet manager who has no real influence or long-term security within the organization?

  31. I’m heading to The Hammer on 4th of July to see the Braves host the Angels.

    Just trying it out. I’m on board. Anything is better than Truist Park.

  32. That’s terrific, Ryan. As much as I liked Ted, I always thought Turner Field should have been named after Mr. Aaron.

    From now on I’m only going to call this one The Hammer. I was just offered opening day tickets by a friend. I’m looking forward to seeing baseball at The Hammer again.

    Yeah, that works.

  33. Rob Manfred combines Ford Frick’s effectiveness with Bud Selig’s charisma. As far as I have observed, he is, in every particular, thoroughly mediocre.

  34. Alex, you have the makings of a great grumpy old man, and I mean that as a compliment. I’m proud of you.

  35. Thanks for the memory Josh. It was fun last year. At least you are not going to the Natspos so thanks for that too.

  36. From a pure value perspective I agree with not bringing him back at this rate. From emotional perspective this sucks.

  37. I think my interest in MLB and our Truist Braves is at an all time low. Wake me up when the season starts.

  38. The fourth year must have been the sticking point. I can’t imagine that the dollars were the problem.

  39. Never liked JD anyway. That mullet is ridiculous.

    To be serious, this is a blow. The Braves need a big bat in the middle of the lineup. So, what is the best option? Trade for Arenado? Trade for Bryant? Sign Ozuna? Sign Castellanos?
    I assume AA has been prepared for this, and is working on these options and others we haven’t heard about. I share Alex and Ryan’s confidence in AA, but it’s about to be tested.

  40. Have to believe that he will do something. Can’t go into the season with Markakis/Duvall as the cleanup hitter.

  41. I’m kind of glad Donaldson has signed, because I was getting real sick of the daily rumors about him.

    Arenado rumors make no sense. Braves were too cheap to pay Donaldson but will pay this guy’s contract?

  42. AA’s algorithm must have spit back $91MM when he typed in Donaldson.

    It’s depressing to think about Rimargo at 3B.

  43. My source is back! Said Braves have been in contact with Mariners, Indians, and Cubs this week. Also source said Braves never went to 4 guaranteed years.

    Also, source said mid-December that Twins were in the lead on Donaldson but Donaldson was giving Braves chance to match. They didn’t.

    Cubs guys that could be in play: Bryant, Schwarber, Almora

    Indians: Lindor

    Mariners: Seager, Haniger, Gonzalez

  44. Without the DH I think we dodged a bullet here as players are just not aging as well as they did even 15 years ago. I might have offered something like 2/$55M where the AAV trumps the shorter length but I don’t know how that fits into the budget. And let’s agree to shun any poster that brings up “financial flexibility” ever again.

    So, what would we need to trade to get Jock Pederson? Starling Marte? Would Bryse Wilson do it?

  45. I’m going on record now as saying no Marcel Ozuna. I think he would be a huge disappointment in Atlanta.

  46. It’s not so much that I’m super disappointed that Josh Donaldson is not a Brave. He’s going to be paid a lot of money to not be very good sooner rather than later. What’s frustrating is the lack of certainty now with the offense since he was the last big bat on the market. Now we’re reliant upon other teams being realistic on trade targets, which adds another variable to the equation. I’m not that worried about losing Donaldson because I don’t think they are going to just not do anything now.

  47. Of all the bats that are available through free agency or trade (as far as we know), I like Bryant the best. You can’t trade for him, though, until you know for sure you’re getting two years rather than one.
    I’m agnostic about whether he should play 3B or LF. He’s a defensive liability, but a vast improvement offensively over the internal options at either position.

  48. In order of attractiveness:

    Lindor
    Arenado (with cash)
    Bryant
    Marte
    Haniger

    That’s it. That’s the whole dang list.

  49. Thanks, JD. Good luck in Minnesota. See you in the world series.
    Can Bryant play right field? RAJ in center, Bryant in right, platoon in left would do until one of the kids can escape AAA.

  50. Wait a minute, Rob – Lindor is a shortstop. That’s Dansby Swanson’s position!

  51. That’s a shame. I haven’t given up on Riley as 3B. Agree with everyone who said to have trust in AA to be prepared for this and I am fully expecting a trade. We have all the prospects. Other than Pache and Anderson, no one should be off limits.

  52. Can’t believe it feels this bad that the Braves missed out on giving a multi-year deal to an aging infielder with a complicated injury history, but man, this one hurts for some reason. I always believed he was coming back.

    What’s the point of having Acuña and Albies so cheap if you’re still penny-pinching on every other contract?

  53. @69 Is that the same source that said the Braves would sign JD at 4/104?

    I guess this means the Braves will never sign a 30+ for more than three years. At least one not named Markakis. My guess is that no more moves will be made except filling out bench roles. Duvall/Markakis in LF and Riley/Camargo at 3B. Feels a little like 2018 again. But, hey, we got a draft pick to replace the one lost in the Smith deal. I always kind of suspected that the Braves would not ever risk losing a draft pick.

  54. Even Braves State Media isn’t trying to spin this.
    It’s gets harder and harder to support this organization

  55. The Braves subtracted 37 HR, 6 WAR, and a .900 OPS from the lineup and plan to replace it with Johan Camargo.

    If they thought $21MM a year was too much for Donaldson, then they’re not going to like the asking prices for elite hitters in trades.

    I’ll be happy to eat my crow, but I don’t believe a solid move to replace JD is coming.

  56. I’m not happy
    Nor am I surprised
    These two statements can co-exist together

    But I hope that there is a variant to the offseason plan that accounts for the JD turn of events

  57. Apparently the Donaldson news broke just after my last check in last night.

    If they DON’T have a deal for Bryant with the Cubs at a decent trade cost pending the rejection of the grievance, then this is a mistake. If you think of it as 27, 25, 23, 21, 8 then how is that too big?

    Also, curious why Washington started buying the components to the pu pu tray if this was all they had to meet to get Donaldson. Strange.

  58. @85 Nah, it’s no problem. All we need is 6 WAR from Camargo/Riley, 3 WAR from Markakis/Duvall, 3 WAR from Inciarte, and 3 WAR from D’Arnaud/Flowers. Piece of cake.

  59. @ 85: Not saying the Braves are DOOOOMED. But, as a fan, it is frustrating to see another team that, like the Braves, was bounced early in last season’s playoffs take a calculated risk in order to get closer to the big prize this year. I think AA’s moves this offseason stand to improve the team, but with this development, it’s a two-steps forward, one-step back situation. It’s likely that AA will do something to get a bat, but I don’t really see a player out there who, all things considered, would be better for ATL than Donaldson.

  60. 75 – I would put Betts at the top of you list and slot Haniger after Lindor, but I think that’s it on the trade front (unless Chapman could be had).

    I actually wouldn’t mind Castellanos but I am a big no on Ozuna.

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