5-Way-Chili 5, Grits 3

Success

Bad Outfields

Yesterday, Dwight Lowie asked:

Ronnie’s been scratched so we’re starting Inciarte, Almonte and Adrianza in the OF tonight. When was the last time the Braves ran out a crappier outfield trio?

The discussion continued later in the thread before this one as once again, the absence of Ronald and Heredia (as if Heredia were any great shakes) led once again to an outfield that could be characterized as “not especially punchful” despite Ender’s HR last night.

I’m going to explore a related question: what are the worst outfields ever fielded by the Braves?  I took the starting outfield for every game since the Braves moved to Atlanta in 1966 and then looked at each players aggregate BRef WAR for the Braves that season.

First, we can look at the trio with the worst total WAR.  This one isn’t close.  In 11 games in 2009, the Braves had Garrett Anderson (-1.38) in left, Jordan Schafer (-1.63) in center and Jeff Francoeur (-0.31) in right.  That total WAR of -3.32 is easily the worst in in Braves history.  Next worse is the last day of the 1971 season when Oscar Brown (-0.25) played left, Sonny Jackson (-1.57) played center and Dusty Baker, in his worst year in Atlanta (-0.7) played right.

Sometimes, summing WAR across the outfield is unfair, because you’ll get an acceptable outfielder weighed down by two pasture mates.  The third worst outfield was in 1977, but featured Jeff Burroughs (0.71) anchored to Brian Asselstine (-0.32) and Rowland Office (-2.58).  The other two shouldn’t really be tagged because Rowland Office had one of the worst Braves’ years ever. (It was the second-worst WAR for a Braves outfielder, barely exceeded only by Nate McLouth’s anti-brilliant 2010 (-2.64).

So I looked at it another way.  What outfields had the worst best outfielder?  As it turns out, the ACHE/Success/Frenchy outfield holds that distinction as well.  Jeffy at -0.31 was the best of a very sorry group.  But there were two other outfield combinations in which the best outfielder managed a -0.31 for the season.  In 1988, the Braves twice started an outfield of Dion James (-0.31), Albert Hall (-0.46) and Ken Griffey (-1.38).  On July 6th of the same year, they started Jim Morrison (-0.33), Jerry Royster (-0.7) and Gary Roenicke (-0.31).  Neither of these were nearly as bad as the 2009 trio, but they couldn’t manage anybody above -0.31.

Other than that, there were only a few dozen outfield lineups in Braves history where all three outfielders had negative WAR, ie no one even at replacement level.  4 games in 2009 saw Gregor Blanco (-0.09) replace Shafer to improve the outfield quite a bit.  The worst recent outfield with three negative-WAR outfielders are the two games in 2013 when the Braves started Jose Costanza (-0.13), Reed Johnson (-0.04) and Joey Terdoslavich (-0.14), but that is pretty much the definition of a AAAA outfield: three guys indistinguishable from 0, which is pretty much the situation with Abraham, Ender and Ehire (which was by the way, a huge Spanish-language hit for Dion in 1968) who currently sit at -0.2, 0.2, and -0.2, respectively. 

It’s somewhat debatable whether aggregate WAR in a year is the best way to judge badness, since a player might have been so bad he didn’t get into enough games to really generate impressive negative WAR.  Switching to WAR/G gets around that problem, but has a tendency to get more obscure players whose crappiness is much less memorable.  Even by that criterion, the ACHE/Success/Frenchy trio stands out, but they are only now in the top 5, and pride of place belongs to the September 30, 1967 outfield of Dave Nicholson, Mike Lum and Cito Gaston, who all had bad years, but not in enough games to really be memorable. Plus, it was the end of the season and nobody cared.

I hate to end on such a pessimistic note, so I should mention the other side of the ledger: in 19 games in 1966, the Braves started Rico Carty (4.52), Felipe Alou (who mostly played first base that year (6.26)) and Henry Louis Aaron (7.83).  This was the highest aggregate seasonal WAR of any outfield in Braves history.  The second-highest is from the same season, when Alou replaced Carty and the regular centerfielder, Mack Jones (3.06) played.  The third highest is the 2012 outfield of Martin Prado (5.41), Michael Bourn (5.99) and Jason Heyward (5.51).  Somewhat surprisingly (to me) that outfield was more mighty than the next one down, the 2012 outfield of Chipper (5.8), Andruw (6.51) and Gary Sheffield (4.40).  That’s an artifact of that particular year, of course.  If you took a typical year of those last three, they’d trounce a typical year of Martin, Michael and Jason.

Reliever Roulette

Jesse Chavez started this game for the Braves. Like many of you, I’d forgotten about Jesse Chavez. He was a little shaky, but managed to give up only one scratch run in 2 1/3 innings. Matzek then gave up a Grybo (though it looked like an error on Swanson to me, but I didn’t have the sound on) and pitched a clean inning after that. Two acceptable Newcomb innings followed.

But as night follows day, it is simply unrealistic to expect 5 or 6 acceptable pitching performances in a Braves game. Luke came on and gave up a walk and a homer followed by two singles before settling down.

Until the 8th, the Braves offense consisted of a Freeman homer and a bunch of failures with runners in scoring position. But in the 8th, Ozzie homered, Riley singled and went to third on a ball muffed by Tony Gwynn… I mean Joey Votto. (See below.) He came home on an Adrianza single to get back the two runs Luke ceded.

Martin was unable to hold it there, giving up a run that might have been much worse but for some terrible baserunning by Jesse Winker.

Brad Brach pitched the 9th for the Reds. He gave up a single to Freddie but that was it.

Chipwatch

I couldn’t turn on the sound until the sixth inning, but if Chip really compared Joey Votto to Tony Gwynn in any way beyond their identical chromosome counts I’m going to use that for this week’s entry.

OK… One more thing from the 8th. TJ Antone comes in to pitch and Chip says: “One of the big problems with the abbreviated schedule last year is that we didn’t get to see the Central or Western teams.” This apparently is because Chip doesn’t own a TV set. Unless of course he’s confessing that he doesn’t like baseball enough to watch a game now and then when he isn’t broadcasting. Not to mention that we actually had a playoff series against Cincinnati last year. Granted, that didn’t last long.

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.

43 thoughts on “5-Way-Chili 5, Grits 3”

  1. The team has not played well. But how many games would we be out with a better manager? There are no more comebacks when we are losing like there once was. The bullpen management has been poor again but the team isn’t good enough to overcome it. A mediocre team magnifies Snit’s shortcomings as a manager. I used to believe in AA but he has made Snit’s job even more difficult with the insistence of keeping non MLB caliber players on the roster which means Snit will play them whether he has to (right now he does) or not I don’t see the magic pixie dust that will make this team suddenly good.

  2. JCd: I think Snit is managing like it’s a long season and no individual game matters. That’s OK as far as it goes, but I think the current situation requires a bit more urgency than that. There’ve been a couple signs of that, such as moving the rotation around to get our best starters going against the Mets…but then we also sit Fried during that series with a shrug and give away a chance to make up ground on the Mets even though everyone involved claims he easily could’ve pitched. And we go with a bullpen game with no apparent thought whatsoever.

    Also, Galaxy Brain Chip definitely did compare Votto to Gwynn. On the other thing, he must only allow games featuring Mike Trout on his TV set…speaking of which, he definitely worked in a lament of Trout still being out with his pulled calf muscle. It was a complete non-sequitur, but he worked it in.

  3. Considering 5 of your 9 starters should not be on a major league roster, it’s hard to expect to win a game like this. Actually a 5 to 3 final score kind of exceeds expectations. Reliever roulette is the perfect name for a bullpen game like this.

  4. I can’t believe I’m defending Chip, but the majority of other games happen at the same time as the Braves game.

  5. “Libres”, I should say. Although perhaps we will become books in the Spanish version of Dion; ¿quien sabe?

  6. This is Bill Edwards Editor of The Palm Coast Tribune in Both Lauderdale Lakes Florida and Boyton Beach ⛱Florida. Are the Braves. Relief bullpen for real? I don’t think so. They are like the Three Stooges. The Braves catch in the 7th Inning and again blow the lead in both the 7th and 8th Cap this season as a Complete lose . The Braves will finish at. .500 maybe . Sorry Ronald Acuna you are the only player besides Austin Reilly who will receive an award this season 2021 Any One of you Braves Nation fans think the Braves will even make it to the playoffs you are fooling your selves I can spot a Scham Bill Edwards

  7. This is coop Editor bottle washer and head bed pan flusher of the Thomasville Old Sailors Home Dreadnaught. A manager is as good as his players, I don’t give a Snit what Chip says, which is why the tv no longer blares at the TOSH. Besides radios are easier to throw. I love y’all. Keep paddling . coop.

  8. Need to sell anything not named Acuna, Fried, or Anderson that anyone wants at the deadline (I’d leave Albies off this list but that’s just me) and tank the 2nd half, IMO. Organization needs a complete top to bottom reboot. Philosophy, outlook, all of it. Stop drafting pitchability college ‘ready’ pitchers and draft arms with upside and stuff. Stop drafting 4th outfielder types with bad bodies and hoping they are moneyballers. Get back involved in the International market but do it legally, this time.

    Can Snitker in the offseason(or ask him to retire and recast him if he wants to stay in the org…) and bring in a proven winner but younger. Can Kranitz at the All-Star Break. Evaluate Seitzer’s role in the organization.

  9. @10

    I believe the Braves did go with an ‘arm with upside’ the last time they had a top 3 pick, which is how we wound up with Ian Anderson. But for every Ian Anderson you wind up with 4-5 Riley Pints or Brien Taylors. Or, more likely, a Bryce Wilson/Sean Newcomb/Kolby Allard type that makes you want to tear your fingernails out.

    I can understand your frustration and desire to blow it all up, but this division is still so sucky, that we’re still in it, even though it doesn’t feel like we are.

    I’m with you on Kranitz though. He needs a change of scenery.

  10. @4: I can’t believe you’re defending Chip either.
    (a) Condensed replays
    (b) DVR
    (c) off-days

    I do all those, and baseball isn’t my actual job. (Well, I guess it technically is, along with day-drinking and retiree golf.)

    But more to the point, I suspect Chip is just lying…. that he has seen TJ Antone pitch. He is instead acting as the “voice of the casual fan” in a particularly hamhanded way. But he seems to have in mind a fan who is some sweet spot of partisanship (someone sufficiently nonpartisan to want to see other team’s stars even when they bat your team’s brains in but sufficiently partisan that they won’t watch games that don’t involve their team) and ignorance (sufficiently interested in “Our Game” that they want to know stuff rather than just passively consume a particular contest, but not so interested that they want to do anything about it) without any idea of how many such fans there actually are.

  11. He’s just so corny… and the homerism isn’t nearly as subtle as his Dad’s. If Glavine (of my all-time favs) wasn’t in the booth I would just listen to the other team’s broadcast.

  12. I don’t know how much the suits interfere with play-by-play, and tell announcers to do more of this, or less of that, but… I suspect that Chip has received a certain amount of guidance on the audience that they’d like him to speak to. Some of ’em are hayseeds and a lot of ’em are casual fans who don’t really follow the other 29 teams and don’t hold with all of these computers telling the real men what to do. I’m sure that feedback reinforced many of his own instincts, too — I don’t think he’s a secret saber nerd. I think he’s really just what Michael Wex referred to in Yiddish as a khokhem belayle: “a sage at night, when there are no witnesses around to convict him of intelligence.”

    Still, I think that we should remember that the broadcast team is who the suits here. They didn’t want to replace Pete Van Wieren and Boog Sciambi with guys who were smart and knew stuff about stuff.

    Chip is our announcer because the suits like him there just fine.

  13. Sorry to say it, but is there any reason why Bill Edwards Editor of The Palm Coast Tribune is not blocked from the blog? The posts were mildly amusing to some when they first started, but I don’t see anything good that can come from continuing to allow the posts – especially from a cybersecurity aspect. Just my thoughts as someone who deals with cyber on a daily basis.

  14. @19 The only thing Bill Edwards is better at than being the editor of The Palm Coast Tribune is apparently using different IP addresses to avoiding being blocked. I think that’s what Ryan said, anyway.

    @13 I dunno man, you were pretty quiet there for a little while.

  15. Got it. It should be doable but it will take some advanced understanding of TCP/IP, web servers and being able to access the MAC address. I’m not the one to do it, but I could probably find someone who could.

  16. Please only watch this if you are ready to be subjected to extreme torture. I don’t know if it mentions him by name but it is about Acuna. Maybe we aren’t this desperate yet, but this should lead to at least a 10 game winning streak.

  17. Just in case y’all haven’t seen:

    And…

    And…

    And…

    Let’s try to stay away from discussing this, please. Just relaying info here.

  18. Yeah…no offense to anyone here, but I’ll go ahead and make a blanket rule for this thread…any comments discussing the Ozuna comment I put up, especially one seeking an argument and/or a counter, will be deleted.

  19. Acuna playing tonight! I have no idea who Vladimir Gutierrez is, but I had to double-take to make sure a ’90s likely-HoFer or his son wasn’t pitching for Cincy tonight.
    Unfortunately can’t watch because I’m too close to Cincy and blacked out.

  20. Braves are 3-1 in June when Smyly starts. 7-12 when anyone else starts.

    If he can keep the ball in the ballpark, the Braves have a chance!

  21. I demand we score 10 runs in the second so that I can go watch the Hawks game at 8:30 with the outcome of this game already decided.

  22. This pretty well sums up the current style of baseball. Aaron Nola strikes out 12, including 10 in a row, gives up 2 hits, 1 walk, and 0 runs. Took him 99 pitches, he’s done after 5 1/3 innings, and the Phillies lose the game.

  23. Our minor league hitters are pretty bad this year for the most part except for Gwinnett.

    5 of the 9 hitters in Mississippi’s lineup tonight came in hitting below .200.

  24. @34 The good news is that Heredia is doing a decent imitation of peak Ender. Maybe it’s time to swap Almonte and Heredia in the lineup. Or call up another Gwinetter to be hot for a while.

    Riley has cooled off a whole lot. But Freddie is starting to be Freddie again.

  25. I’ll take it Bravos. But we need these wins in bunches.

    Skyline Chili – – highly overrated. As is Montgomery Inn ribs and sauce. But that’s just my take.

  26. I don’t know much about Montgomery Inn, but I go to Skyline most of the time when I’m in the Cincy area. I don’t expect a lot – it’s basically fast food chili – but it’s unique and not bad. I think the key is expectations. I never get the 5 way – it’s heartburn waiting to happen.

  27. Yeah, I don’t know that I’d call Skyline bad, more just weird (or unique, as td said, to use a more positive word). Definitely if you’re going there for the first time, be expecting a local curiosity rather than any kind of culinary epiphany. Heightened expectations will not do you any favors…especially if you know a Cincinnati local, since they likely will not shut up about it being the greatest thing since sliced bread.

  28. I was the same way about the Philly Cheesesteak places (Pat’s King of Steaks and Geno’s) in Philadelphia. I’ll go there again if I get the chance, but as noted above, it wasn’t a culinary epiphany like some people want you to believe.

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