No International Wins for the Braves This Year: 8-4 Jays

I will get to the game, but right now running database queries on baseball history is a lot more fun than watching this team.

In my last installment, I asked about the worst team with the best players. This came up when I looked at the 1986 White Sox, who won 70 games with four Hall of Famers on the roster, admittedly mostly past their prime. JamesD84 suggested that an even better choice might be the mid-60’s Cubs.

JamesD84 is correct. I took every team’s roster in each year and calculated their lifetime WAR. I then calculated the Legacy Rating: Total WAR/(Winning Percentage in the year x 162). It takes 1 WAR during a season to generate 1 win over replacement. The Legacy Rating tells you how many WAR over your career it takes. There is no time travel involved – it doesn’t matter whether your WAR was achieved before that season or in seasons yet to come. And it really doesn’t have much to do with skill at all. It’s just fun.

So the team with the highest Legacy Rating, requiring the most career WAR to generate a win, was indeed the 1966 Cubs. They were a mix of aging stars (Ernie Banks, Robin Roberts, Billy Williams) and young up-and-comers (Fergie Jenkins, Ken Holtzman) and exactly one guy in his prime: the 8.9 WAR Ron Santo. This group of guys, who generated 771 WAR in their careers, generated only 13 as a team in 1966; when you see that Santo generated 8.9 it doesn’t give the team much of a chance. Sure enough, that team was 59-103.

It will come as no shock that the Braves team with the highest Legacy Rating was the 1988 Braves: Smoltz, Glavine, Ted Simmons, Dale Murphy, Lonnie Smith, Ken Griffey and Ron Gant all had over 30 WAR careers. But only two players generated over 3 WAR that year: Murphy (3.1) and Pete Smith, who generated 3.2 of his lifetime 5 WAR. A 54-106 record followed for a team with a combined lifetime 572 WAR.

The 1986 White Sox are a bit farther down the list: 629 Total WAR and a more respectable 72-90 record.

Another team worth mentioning, a team that might come in first place if you tweak the criteria a bit, are the 1935 Boston Braves. They had the ghosts of Babe Ruth (182 WAR) and Rabbit Maranville (43) and Wally Berger in his prime (42 total, 5.8 that year.) Only one other player had even 2 WAR and the Braves were 38-115. Of course, having 35% of your career WAR invested in Ruth, who generated 0.1 WAR that year, is going to explain this team’s problem.

I also took a glance at the other end of the list: teams that had good seasons despite few players with good careers. This list is dominated by recent teams with active players, which really shouldn’t count. Of the teams in which everyone is retired, one team sticks out: the 1921 Boston Braves finished 79-74 without a single player who accumulated 25 WAR in their careers, and only 4 players who accumulated more than 10.

Finally, a quiz: what team had the highest lifetime WAR from all of their players? The top 10 list in this category is dominated by the Yankees of the 2000’s, but the best of those teams in this regard, the 2005 Yankees (1133 WAR) trails one team in baseball history, and it wasn’t a Yankees team. Any guesses?

I Guess I Have To Talk About The Game

I missed the first 5 innings of the game because I was traveling. Acuña hit a homer to lead off and we couldn’t keep the Blue Jays from taking the lead. Sounds like the other 5 games against these guys. I missed all of Morton’s “performance,” which I take it was better than his recent performances, ie, merely not very good.

The 7th saw both a two-run Dansby HR to take the lead and the blessed return of Gwyneth Paltrow’s ex-husband, Viva la Vida, with a clean inning. Minter, however, coughed the lead up in short order, rescued by … wait for it… Luke Jackson. In addition, Jacob Webb turned in a good inning and a third, to everyone’s surprise. So we go to the 9th tied at 4.

In the top of 9th I, Robot star Will Smith took the mound. Apparently, the First Law of Baseball Robotics is that Toronto must have the lead. The Second Law is that it has to be insurmountable. It took all of three batters before we were down 2, and another three batters later we were down 3. A sac fly off Biddle made it a four run deficit. Ouch.

The other big news came from the emergency room: Christian Pache left with hamstring tightness and Ronald Acuña rolled an ankle crossing first base. One of these players matters much more than the other.

Author: JonathanF

Alive since 1956. Braves fan since 1966. The first ten years were pretty much wasted. Exiled to Yankees/Mets territory in 1974 --- bearable only with TBS followed by MLB.TV.

58 thoughts on “No International Wins for the Braves This Year: 8-4 Jays”

  1. Perhaps we’ll have better success against the Jays this October.

    My guess on the WAR question is the 1928 Philadelphia A’s.

  2. X-rays negative on Acuna’s ankle. He’s day-to-day. I mean this in as nice a way as possible, but I’m starting to get the feeling that he’s something of a…well, hypochondriac isn’t really the word, because as far as I know, it’s not like he’s always worried he’s got something wrong… . I don’t know, let’s just call it a penchant for being overly dramatic.

    Also, they’re ILing Pache and calling up Ender, so I’m calling 9 p.m. tomorrow as the time by which most of you “bring back Ender” folks will be eating your words on that.

  3. Snit called Acuna one the toughest people he knows. I’ll take him at his word.

  4. Yeah, my guess would be one of those Philly Athletics teams with Foxx, Grove, Simmons & Cochrane.

    Of course, that ’28 team had Cobb & Speaker, as they were finishing up.

  5. 1) He would say that.

    2) I’m not even trying to insinuate he’s soft, exactly. If he was, he’d have sat out on Sunday after getting hit in the finger Saturday. Moreso I’m saying that whenever something happens, he goes into full meltdown mode for a few minutes. I dunno…within reason, the next time he looks like he’s seriously injured, I’d recommend waiting for the scan results before freaking out. That’s all I’m saying.

  6. @1,4: 1928 A’s. Bingo. Well done.

    After them, the Yankees of 2005, 2012, 2000, 2008, 2004, the 1927 Athletics, 2006, 1996, and 2007, in that order.

    There are still a few active 2012 Yankees, but not enough to change anything.

  7. @9

    It can’t be any worse than Austin Riley’s range in RF. I normally run in the opposite direction of any Riley bashing and the play happened when the horses were already out of the barn, but he definitely failed to get to a routine fly ball into medium RF in that disastrous ninth inning.

  8. Is that stuff you’re smoking legal, JonathanF? The places you take me. Thanks.

  9. I hate to say it but this team is getting hard to watch let alone follow…

  10. #7
    You’d think that the Big Red Machine might fare better on that list. The regular lineup was incredible, of course, but they rarely had any big bench talent (Darrell Chaney, Hal King, Terry Crowley, etc.) and their pitchers (Billingham, Nolan, Norman, etc.) never had huge careers.

    In addition to an always-imposing lineup & Rivera in the ‘pen, those Yankee teams had Raines & Strawberry on the bench in ’96, for example; plus later on the mound, it was Key, Cone, Rogers, Pettitte, Wells, then Clemens, Mussina, Big Unit, etc.

    Big (& expensive) careers all… lotsa WAR there.

  11. @13: You need depth to make the list. The top 10 on the 1975 Reds were all over 20 Career WAR, but they also had 8 players with negative career WAR. Their total, at 568, is at about the 75tyh percentile. Of course, that year they generated over 50 WAR, almost 10% of their collective lifetime output.

  12. Acuna is an emotional, demonstrative guy, and that extends to how he reacts to minor injuries, which scares the heck out of us.

  13. I’m surprised that the Yankee team (’52?) that had both DiMaggio and Mantle didn’t make it. That team and others in the ’50’s always had several faded former national league stars like Mize and Sain making up the bullpen and bench.

  14. IIRC, 1951 was DiMaggio’s last year — and yes, Mize & Sain were on that team. (A famous outfield mix-up in that WS vs. NYG ended up putting Mantle in the hospital.)

    But, like a bunch of those Yankee teams in that era, there’s also a lotta Jerry Colemans, Gene Woodlings & Charlie Silveras.

  15. 1951 Yankees: 786 Mantle (110) DiMaggio (79) Mize (71) Berra (59) are a great start, but only 9 more over 20. But 1955 Cleveland had about the same level. It’s the guys in the middle that really run up the score.

    One thing that hampers earlier teams is that WAR is automatically going to be about 5% lower in a 154 game season, which makes the late 20’s As all the more amazing.

  16. Thanks as always, JonathanF. Your database inquiries of baseball history are a delight. I realize that not everyone is into such oddities as I am, but I think we can all agree they are a lot more interesting and enjoyable than thinking about the current Braves.

  17. It’s a little soon to start talking about the trade deadline, but my mind has already shifted in that direction, naturally, as a consequence of this team’s persistent ineptitude. I’m not talking about Freddie, yet, but I am wondering how Liberty Media could respond to a Braves team that isn’t squarely in contention (meaning: also-ran, not mathematically out of it, no one expects them to be around late in October…). Would they seek to flush salaries from the books? Is there any possibility that they could seek to jolt this franchise back to life with an infusion of funds going into 2022?

    I would be a taker for Max Scherzer at the deadline, possibly… provided we also get him to resign. Before you say it, I already know you’re thinking “NOT A CHANCE!” But isn’t this precisely the kind of move you expect from a team entering the “window”?

  18. I think the only thing we know for certain about team needs in a trade is CF. But if Ozuna, Freddie, Ozzie and Dansby continue to have a 100-200 point regression in their OPS, the team’s not going anywhere. I don’t, however, think half the team forgot how to hit over the offseason. But if half the lineup continues to disappoint, then I doubt we buy at the deadline.

    People make baseball into being such an individual game, but when half the lineup sucks, that hurts the other half. You don’t get see the starting pitcher a third time as often, you don’t get to see the back end of the bullpen as often, and the other team in a 3-game series will beat you much more easily when they get to have their starter only go through the order twice, and they don’t need anyone past their best relievers. And on the flip side, you have to ride your own best relievers harder because you’re in so many close games. People ask, “Why is Luke Jackson pitching in a close game?!” Because we have too many close games!

  19. Random question: how many ABs/seasons before you think that giving Ozuna a long-term deal was not a good idea? If we’re 300 ABs into his long-term deal and he’s hitting below his pre-2020 career numbers (.794 OPS), are you going to think we paid for the wrong Ozuna?

  20. If we get ~600 ABs and the season is over and he has a year worse than 2018, I might feel like we got the wrong Ozuna. Of course, he would totally change my mind by simply posting an .850+ OPS the following year. I’m not a terribly hard man to please.

    I feel like we need an average of 2 WAR/season in order to have gotten good value with Ozuna. I do feel like this is a big gamble, though.

  21. I keep thinking about the ’73 and ’74 teams. In ’73, the team hit a ton. In ’74, everyone slumped hard except for Garr.

  22. I feel that there is a slight chance that Ozuna having to play LF has taken away from his concentration/approach at the plate.
    It would not surprise me if next year he hits better IF the DH is implemented.

    If not, check out his surgically repaired shoulder to see if it is affecting him.

    Tyler Flowers retired once again, btw. (Back issues)

  23. @21 I’d guess that LM will not respond well to a mediocre season. Just an educated guess.

    I’ve also perused the crowds from TV since they went back to full capacity and there’s been nowhere near the crowds that I would have expected since they announced back to 100% capacity.

    I suspect, that long term, the days of every seat filled in any stadium or concert or things of that magnitude, are probably over. I also don’t know that we know the long term ramifications of the effect of COVID on baseball in particular, especially having the minors lose a year + of competitive play.

  24. Definitely think evaluating it during the outer bands of a pandemic vs a non-rival in May is a smart time to determine that.

  25. I’m actually not concerned about Ozuna being worth his contract. I’m also not concerned about Freddie not hitting. Ozzie is insanely streaky, but he’ll hit too. I genuinely believe the offense will take care of itself.

    It’s the rest of it that worries me. Between his shoulder and his Achilles, I don’t think it makes sense to expect any innings out of Soroka this year. Ynoa has been magnificent, but like Ryan said, there are some reasons to expect he’s outperformed his peripherals and will regress some. Morton has been a real disappointment for me, and the bullpen has been genuinely underwhelming.

  26. The lineup hasn’t yet been able to outpace the pitching problems.

    And having a bullpen that coughs up late-inning leads, almost on cue, is a huge, soul-destroying flaw. Just ask last year’s Phillies… It’s gotta get better.

  27. I thought Martin was going to be a huge boost yesterday in his return, but we still have to deal with an overworked Minter who isn’t pitching well right now and Newcomb, Tomlin and Jackson being relied upon much more than they should be. Smith had a bad game but will be okay.
    Greene should help make things right and the starting pitchers going deeper should help. It’s not going to change overnight, but I think we’ll be a lot better in the bullpen by June.

  28. What’s Touki’s status? He is eligible to come back in a couple of weeks, right? Has anyone hear anything at all? Saw a video of him throwing from flat ground a few weeks ago. We could use him in the pen. Touki-Newk-Matzek-AJM-Greene-Martin-Smith… Theoretically, what’s not to like?

  29. I’m on record as saying I thought the bullpen was going to be ok going in, and I was wrong about that. I thought Martin, Smith, Matzek, and Minter ought to be enough.

    For one thing, I thought the starters would be eating more innings. And the other thing, related to the Ozuna topic, is that I knew bad decisions would be made based on 2020’s limited data, and then I turned around and committed the insane act of evaluating relievers based on the 20 – 30 innings they threw last year.

  30. Same here, Rusty. I thought the pen would be good. The starters had actually been better lately, other than Morton. Averaged something like 6 innings the last eight games or so before yesterday, I think. Time for especially Wright and also Wilson to finally step up.

  31. @25–I’m intrigued by the 1973-74 comparison. It’s true that the offense fell off pretty dramatically in 74, but the team record improved by 12 games, thanks to excellent starting pitching led by Buzz Capra and Knucksie. So far it’s fair to say that our starting pitching is something short of “excellent.” Still, the 1974 team did come on strong in the second half.

  32. The 1974 team came on strong after they had scapegoated the manager…. just sayin’.

  33. That 74 team was not so much a drop off, as 73 being a real outlier. Evans and Johnson in 74 were very close to what they were in 72. Hank had his last great year in 73 and then there was Mike Lum. I hope that 2020 does not turn out to be as big an outlier as 73 was.

  34. Off topic, but… can anyone give any advice on how to navigate Will Oldham’s bewilderingly dense discography? He just released Superwolves but I never even heard Superwolf!

  35. DOB and EOF discussed the pressure on the bullpen, not just usage, but how every game is a pressure situation, its always close, never a blow out, and how that wears on pitchers as well. And with Zero offense there is no margin for error.

  36. I’ve always said that if we could’ve fused the ’73 lineup with the ’74 pitching staff (that ’73 ‘pen was true shite)… and maybe keep the ’74 Ralph Garr, that woulda been a helluva team…. only in APBA or Strat-O-Matic, though.

  37. Acuna not starting tonight. Adrianza, Freeman, Ozuna, Ozzie, Dansby, Riley, Contreras, Ender and Smyly

  38. @ 41 Me too, although that combo of Garr/Dusty/ Hank in the OF was really terrible.

  39. @42, cool, thanks! Awesome to see it had Brian McMahan and Britt Walford from Slint. The older I get, the more I listen to Spiderland.

  40. #44
    Aaron’s 1973 season was incredible, though.

    At 39 (pre-PEDs, of course), he hit 40 HRs in 120 games/392 official ABs/465 PA… .301/.402/.643. Ridiculous.

    #45
    The vocals can get kinda goofy on the Palace Bros record, but I find it charming.

    And it’s so weird how that Slint record just never goes away. Pretty timeless.

    If you really wanna go down the Slint rabbit hole, check out Squirrel Bait, their previous band. Pretty raw & oddly catchy: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PImYNoVrsl0

  41. Darrell Evans was pretty awesome in 1973 himself: 9.0 bWAR.
    He dropped off in 1974 but still had a bWAR of 7.2.

  42. 73-74 were my transistor radio under the pillow years. I rarely made it to the end of the game…a failed effort by Leo Foster, Danny Frisella, or Frank Tepedino would typically usher in the sandman….

  43. I’d listen to some faint radio signal, trying to interpret what was happening through bouts of static. Invariably it was Vic Correll throwing wildly into centerfield. God he was terrible.

    Darrell Evans, though, was a god.

  44. The fact that the Brewers have a Hank Aaron patch and the Braves don’t is… disturbing.

  45. #52

    Yeah, I thought the same thing, especially after Our New Insect Overlords’ comment yesterday. Then the radio guys said that the Braves’ caps have a 44 and a 35 patch on the back. I’m sorry, but the Braves can do better than that. Like I said, it’s bad karma not to commemorate some of your franchise’s most important and beloved players.

  46. Why is Snit using his main setup guys in 6-1 lead .. ?? Newcomb pitches 1/3 inning .. ?? Tomlin or somebody else …

  47. I don’t know what angle Riley thought he was taking there, but giving the runner free reign of the baseline is…an interesting strategy.

  48. @56, I thought he was giving himself more of an angle to throw to second without hitting the runner.

    Inciarte always looks to me like he’s in pain, but after his run & jump catch he really looked like he was worried. Hope he was just wondering if the hamstring was ok and not feeling something wrong. Also hope Heredia is back soon.

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