Braves Check: Falling flat in September

Fantasy drafting took up pretty much all of my time yesterday, so I didn’t get the chance to update the stats as I had expected.  Today’s post should rectify that. 

That big “whoosh” sound you might have heard in Atlanta over the weekend must have been the Braves falling in the standings, as they dropped all the way to 7.5 games back in the division and 5.5 in the wild card.  That’s third place behind the Mets and Phillies in the East, and fifth behind the D-Backs, Phillies, Dodgers, and Rockies in the WC.  I’ll go ahead and include last night’s win over the Phillies in the stats below so that I don’t have to cover the same ground twice.

This Week’s Stats

Scores and FanGraphs game summaries:

8/27: Braves 13, Marlins 2
8/28: Marlins 4, Braves 3
8/29: Braves 7, Marlins 4
8/31: Mets 7, Braves 1
9/1: Mets 5, Braves 1
9/2: Mets 3, Braves 2
9/3: Braves 5, Phillies 1

Stats for the week alone:

Hitting PA OPS pLI WPA WPA/LI Clutch CP pWPA pWPA/LI pClutch pCP
Matt Diaz 27 1.319 1.06 +0.247 +0.578 -0.331 -0.365 +0.91 +2.14 -1.23 -1.35
Chipper Jones 30 0.828 0.99 +0.214 +0.065 +0.149 +0.150 +0.71 +0.22 +0.50 +0.50
Yunel Escobar 29 1.032 0.91 +0.165 +0.308 -0.143 -0.116 +0.57 +1.06 -0.49 -0.40
Brayan Pena 1 2.000 1.13 +0.064 +0.057 +0.007 +0.000 +6.40 +5.66 +0.74 +0.00
Andruw Jones 28 0.690 1.05 +0.038 -0.024 +0.062 +0.063 +0.14 -0.09 +0.22 +0.23
Jo-Jo Reyes 1 0.000 0.00 +0.000 +0.000 +0.000 +0.000 +0.00 +0.00 +0.00 +0.00
Scott Thorman 4 0.833 1.43 -0.003 -0.015 +0.012 +0.018 -0.08 -0.37 +0.29 +0.45
Chuck James 1 0.000 0.50 -0.013 -0.026 +0.013 +0.000 -1.30 -2.60 +1.30 +0.00
Pete Orr 2 1.000 3.07 -0.026 +0.041 -0.067 -0.152 -1.30 +2.05 -3.35 -7.59
Corky Miller 6 0.333 0.96 -0.029 -0.012 -0.017 -0.018 -0.48 -0.20 -0.29 -0.29
Tim Hudson 1 0.000 1.55 -0.037 -0.024 -0.013 +0.000 -3.70 -2.39 -1.31 +0.00
Buddy Carlyle 3 0.000 0.80 -0.064 -0.080 +0.016 +0.000 -2.13 -2.67 +0.53 +0.00
Lance Cormier 6 0.000 0.49 -0.072 -0.119 +0.047 -0.014 -1.20 -1.98 +0.78 -0.24
Chris Woodward 11 0.364 0.87 -0.087 -0.045 -0.042 -0.048 -0.79 -0.41 -0.38 -0.43
Julio Franco 2 0.000 1.90 -0.091 -0.049 -0.042 +0.001 -4.55 -2.44 -2.11 +0.06
Kelly Johnson 26 0.755 1.10 -0.098 -0.087 -0.011 -0.003 -0.38 -0.34 -0.04 -0.01
John Smoltz 4 0.000 1.32 -0.133 -0.098 -0.035 -0.004 -3.33 -2.45 -0.87 -0.09
Mark Teixeira 31 0.776 1.01 -0.142 -0.176 +0.034 +0.036 -0.46 -0.57 +0.11 +0.12
Brian McCann 25 0.880 1.16 -0.183 -0.022 -0.161 -0.158 -0.73 -0.09 -0.64 -0.63
Jeff Francoeur 30 0.483 1.04 -0.230 -0.159 -0.071 -0.064 -0.77 -0.53 -0.24 -0.21
Willie Harris 10 0.100 1.12 -0.285 -0.234 -0.051 -0.022 -2.85 -2.34 -0.51 -0.22
Totals 278 0.739 1.04 -0.765 -0.122 -0.643 -0.694 -0.28 -0.04 -0.23 -0.25
Total Pitching IP ERA pLI WPA WPA/LI Clutch CP pWPA pWPA/LI pClutch pCP
Ron Mahay 4.7 0.00 0.92 +0.231 +0.123 +0.108 +0.118 +1.36 +0.72 +0.64 +0.70
Peter Moylan 5.3 0.00 0.71 +0.229 +0.232 -0.003 +0.066 +1.21 +1.22 -0.01 +0.35
Tyler Yates 3.3 2.70 1.28 +0.177 +0.045 +0.132 +0.120 +1.26 +0.32 +0.94 +0.86
Lance Cormier 12.7 2.13 0.65 +0.167 +0.343 -0.176 -0.055 +0.33 +0.69 -0.35 -0.11
Manuel Acosta 4.0 2.25 0.68 +0.091 +0.078 +0.013 +0.037 +0.61 +0.52 +0.09 +0.25
Rafael Soriano 2.3 0.00 0.46 +0.083 +0.173 -0.090 +0.003 +1.19 +2.47 -1.29 +0.04
Buddy Carlyle 5.0 5.40 0.89 -0.022 -0.196 +0.174 +0.153 -0.10 -0.89 +0.79 +0.70
Jose Ascanio 1.0 27.00 0.20 -0.032 -0.076 +0.044 -0.017 -0.46 -1.09 +0.63 -0.24
Chuck James 5.0 5.40 0.73 -0.070 -0.145 +0.075 +0.036 -0.39 -0.81 +0.42 +0.20
John Smoltz 13.0 4.15 0.92 -0.083 +0.098 -0.181 -0.174 -0.15 +0.18 -0.34 -0.32
Tim Hudson 6.0 6.00 0.73 -0.145 -0.076 -0.069 -0.089 -0.63 -0.33 -0.30 -0.39
Oscar Villarreal 1.7 5.40 1.84 -0.357 -0.101 -0.256 -0.171 -3.97 -1.12 -2.84 -1.90
Totals 64.0 3.52 0.82 +0.269 +0.498 -0.229 +0.028 +0.11 +0.20 -0.09 +0.01
Relief Pitching G IP TBF gmLI G/T tG/T USG SV EO EOC EO%
Tyler Yates 4 3.3 14 0.83 0.99 1.44 0.45 0 1 1 100%
Ron Mahay 5 4.7 17 0.89 1.05 1.35 0.30 0 1 1 100%
Jose Ascanio 1 1.0 7 0.16 0.19 1.11 0.92 0 0 0 0%
Manuel Acosta 3 4.0 15 0.95 1.12 1.00 -0.13 0 0 0 0%
Peter Moylan 5 5.3 19 0.85 1.01 0.94 -0.07 0 1 1 100%
Rafael Soriano 2 2.3 7 0.60 0.71 0.61 -0.10 1 0 0 0%
Oscar Villarreal 2 1.7 9 1.16 1.37 0.00 -1.37 0 0 1 0%
Totals 22 22.3 88 0.84 8 1 3 4 75%

Season totals:

Hitting PA OPS pLI WPA WPA/LI Clutch CP pWPA pWPA/LI pClutch pCP
Chipper Jones 507 0.994 1.03 +2.875 +3.245 -0.370 -0.464 +0.57 +0.64 -0.07 -0.09
Yunel Escobar 279 0.806 0.97 +2.177 +0.945 +1.232 +1.263 +0.78 +0.34 +0.44 +0.45
Kelly Johnson 535 0.869 0.97 +1.718 +2.369 -0.651 -0.571 +0.32 +0.44 -0.12 -0.11
Edgar Renteria 463 0.878 0.96 +1.524 +1.929 -0.405 -0.321 +0.33 +0.42 -0.09 -0.07
Mark Teixeira 141 1.031 1.04 +1.028 +0.691 +0.337 +0.310 +0.73 +0.49 +0.24 +0.22
Matt Diaz 323 0.909 0.96 +0.895 +1.700 -0.805 -0.732 +0.28 +0.53 -0.25 -0.23
Brian McCann 471 0.790 1.05 +0.372 -0.674 +1.046 +1.079 +0.08 -0.14 +0.22 +0.23
Corky Miller 18 0.572 1.00 +0.065 -0.019 +0.084 +0.084 +0.36 -0.11 +0.47 +0.47
Willie Harris 341 0.780 1.01 +0.020 -0.181 +0.201 +0.204 +0.01 -0.05 +0.06 +0.06
Tyler Yates 1 0.000 0.03 -0.001 -0.033 +0.032 +0.000 -0.10 -3.33 +3.23 +0.00
Peter Moylan 5 0.200 0.55 -0.047 -0.051 +0.004 -0.019 -0.94 -1.02 +0.08 -0.38
Oscar Villarreal 5 0.450 1.24 -0.053 -0.085 +0.032 +0.052 -1.06 -1.69 +0.63 +1.04
Jo-Jo Reyes 14 0.464 1.09 -0.100 -0.095 -0.005 +0.003 -0.71 -0.68 -0.04 +0.02
Tim Hudson 71 0.530 0.74 -0.193 -0.308 +0.115 +0.036 -0.27 -0.43 +0.16 +0.05
Lance Cormier 14 0.071 0.66 -0.224 -0.270 +0.046 -0.047 -1.60 -1.93 +0.33 -0.34
Julio Franco 43 0.618 1.07 -0.403 -0.120 -0.283 -0.275 -0.94 -0.28 -0.66 -0.64
Buddy Carlyle 38 0.226 0.87 -0.418 -0.628 +0.210 +0.129 -1.10 -1.65 +0.55 +0.34
Brayan Pena 24 0.625 1.41 -0.443 -0.247 -0.196 -0.095 -1.85 -1.03 -0.82 -0.40
Jeff Francoeur 597 0.777 0.98 -0.498 -0.513 +0.015 +0.005 -0.08 -0.09 +0.00 +0.00
Pete Orr 60 0.424 0.71 -0.624 -0.508 -0.116 -0.262 -1.04 -0.85 -0.19 -0.44
Jarrod Saltalamacchia 153 0.745 1.11 -0.711 -0.273 -0.438 -0.408 -0.46 -0.18 -0.29 -0.27
Chuck James 53 0.310 0.91 -0.738 -0.715 -0.023 -0.085 -1.39 -1.35 -0.04 -0.16
John Smoltz 57 0.199 0.88 -0.765 -0.927 +0.162 +0.054 -1.34 -1.63 +0.28 +0.09
Chris Woodward 145 0.511 1.04 -0.966 -1.129 +0.163 +0.206 -0.67 -0.78 +0.11 +0.14
Scott Thorman 293 0.646 0.91 -1.338 -0.822 -0.516 -0.587 -0.46 -0.28 -0.18 -0.20
Andruw Jones 576 0.745 1.07 -1.888 -0.804 -1.084 -1.027 -0.33 -0.14 -0.19 -0.18
Totals 5433 0.776 0.99 -0.616 +0.885 -1.501 -1.883 -0.01 +0.02 -0.03 -0.03
Total Pitching IP ERA pLI WPA WPA/LI Clutch CP pWPA pWPA/LI pClutch pCP
Peter Moylan 77.0 1.87 0.77 +2.358 +1.372 +0.986 +1.299 +0.77 +0.45 +0.32 +0.42
John Smoltz 174.7 3.09 1.04 +1.774 +2.032 -0.258 -0.348 +0.24 +0.28 -0.04 -0.05
Tim Hudson 189.7 3.32 0.92 +1.715 +2.922 -1.207 -0.987 +0.22 +0.38 -0.16 -0.13
Rafael Soriano 60.0 3.45 1.19 +1.666 +1.013 +0.653 +0.465 +0.72 +0.44 +0.28 +0.20
Chuck James 141.3 4.27 1.01 +0.692 -0.399 +1.091 +1.097 +0.11 -0.07 +0.18 +0.18
Tyler Yates 59.3 4.85 1.09 +0.600 +0.167 +0.433 +0.417 +0.23 +0.06 +0.16 +0.16
Manuel Acosta 11.7 0.77 0.61 +0.360 +0.465 -0.105 +0.077 +0.84 +1.08 -0.24 +0.18
Ron Mahay 17.7 1.53 1.28 +0.133 +0.219 -0.086 -0.146 +0.19 +0.31 -0.12 -0.21
Royce Ring 0.7 0.00 0.25 +0.034 +0.134 -0.100 +0.001 +1.70 +6.68 -4.98 +0.06
Chad Paronto 40.3 3.57 0.63 -0.120 -0.364 +0.244 +0.111 -0.07 -0.20 +0.14 +0.06
Jose Ascanio 9.0 4.00 0.86 -0.273 +0.104 -0.377 -0.362 -0.67 +0.25 -0.92 -0.88
Oscar Villarreal 72.3 4.11 0.78 -0.336 -0.133 -0.203 -0.232 -0.11 -0.04 -0.06 -0.07
Bob Wickman 43.7 3.92 2.05 -0.472 -0.173 -0.299 -0.117 -0.23 -0.08 -0.15 -0.06
Buddy Carlyle 95.0 5.02 0.88 -0.830 -0.042 -0.788 -0.793 -0.21 -0.01 -0.19 -0.20
Lance Cormier 37.7 6.69 0.78 -0.855 -0.999 +0.144 -0.078 -0.50 -0.58 +0.08 -0.05
Jo-Jo Reyes 30.3 8.31 1.02 -1.359 -1.145 -0.214 -0.186 -0.94 -0.79 -0.15 -0.13
Kyle Davies 86.0 5.76 0.98 -1.659 -1.037 -0.622 -0.640 -0.43 -0.27 -0.16 -0.16
Totals 1241.3 4.18 0.97 +1.613 +1.686 -0.073 -0.391 +0.03 +0.03 -0.00 -0.01
Relief Pitching G IP TBF gmLI G/T tG/T USG SV EO EOC EO%
Peter Moylan 65 77.0 307 0.83 0.80 1.71 0.91 1 8 8 100%
Rafael Soriano 60 60.0 231 1.39 1.35 1.39 0.04 7 11 15 73%
Tyler Yates 67 59.3 264 1.06 1.03 1.18 0.15 2 6 10 60%
Chad Paronto 41 40.3 180 0.82 0.79 0.99 0.20 1 2 5 40%
Ron Mahay 17 17.7 70 1.11 1.07 0.68 -0.40 0 2 4 50%
Royce Ring 1 0.7 2 0.27 0.26 0.66 0.40 0 0 0 0%
Manuel Acosta 9 11.7 43 0.77 0.75 0.66 -0.09 0 1 1 100%
Oscar Villarreal 48 72.3 314 1.01 0.98 0.56 -0.41 1 7 11 64%
Bob Wickman 49 43.7 204 1.60 1.55 0.47 -1.08 20 11 15 73%
Jose Ascanio 7 9.0 41 0.41 0.40 0.40 0.00 0 0 1 0%
Buddy Carlyle 1 1.0 4 0.58 0.56 0.00 -0.56 0 0 0 0%
Totals 437 455.7 1965 1.03 178 34 52 76 68%

Best plays of the week:

  1. Chipper Jones hit a 2-run homer off Armando Benitez, tying Tuesday’s game at 3 in the 8th inning (+.292).
  2. Matt Diaz hit a 2-run homer off Dontrelle Willis, giving the Braves a 4-2 lead in the 3rd inning of Wednesday’s game (+.169).
  3. Brian McCann hit a 2-run double off Jamie Moyer, giving the Braves a 2-1 lead and leaving runners on second and third in the 4th inning of yesterday’s game (+.165).
  4. John Smoltz induced a double play ball from Paul Lo Duca, ending the 4th inning of Sunday’s game and preserving a 1-1 tie (+.140).
  5. Kelly Johnson singled in Chris Woodward, cutting the Mets’ lead to 3-2 in the bottom of the ninth inning on Sunday (+.137).

Comments

Most of the Braves’ hitters were close to neutral last week.  Only Matt Diaz had a great week on paper, going 9-for-24 with three walks, three homers, and a couple of extra-base hits.  Diaz, Jones and Yunel Escobar (whose name always seems to come up in this section) were the only players measurably better than average in WPA.

Andruw was basically average this week, and everyone else falls into the “slightly below average” category.  Willie Harris had the roughest week, and that was in limited playing time.  He went 0-for-8 with a walk and was -.285 in WPA.  Francoeur, McCann, Teixeira, and Kelly Johnson were varying stages of bad, although everyone but Frenchy looked decent on the surface.

Perhaps the most notable thing about the hitting this week was not the performance of the regulars, but the the performance of the reserves.  With the recent roster expansion, the Braves have called up both good (Brayan Pena, who is at least better than Corky Miller) and bad (Bobby’s favorite sons: Orr and Franco).  Those bench players totaled 26 plate appearances (about a week’s worth of one player’s starting time) and would have finished between Teixeira and McCann for the week at -.172 WPA.  Since both Brandon Jones and Brent Lillibridge appear to be heading to the Arizona Fall League this year, they were passed over for callups, leaving virtually useless players like Orr with the leftover playing time.  The next time Bobby uses Woodward or Orr to pinch-bunt when it’s not 1) for the pitcher, 2) in a first-and-second, nobody out situation, and 3) in a close game, I think my head might explode.  That’s also a possibility if they pinch-“hit” at all.

Ron Mahay was the bullpen’s MVP in another taxing week for the key players.  He and Pete Moylan worked five games each, and neither allowed a run.  Tyler Yates was decent, with a single run allowed in 3 1/3 innings of higher-leveraged work, but no one was really used in truly crucial situations more than anyone else.  There were four chances for what I call an Effective Outing (LI of > 2) this week: four different relievers took them (Yates, Mahay, Moylan, Villarreal), and everyone but Villarreal converted his (Villarreal did not manage a positive WPA in his chance).  Soriano added 2 2/3 perfect innings and picked up the only save, yet only Jose Ascanio had a lower-leveraged week.  Manny Acosta’s work was moderately low-leveraged, and he allowed a run in four innings.

The Braves got just a single quality start (by my definition of 6+ innings and a positive WPA) in seven tries this week, and only Lance Cormier (who got the QS) had a WPA in the black.  Smoltz had two slightly below average starts, and now he’s even being used on short rest.  Hudson was treated similarly and had comparable results.  James and Carlyle both had short starts (5 IP) with 3 earned runs allowed, even though Buddy got a win and Chuck got a loss.

One more note before I get into the upcoming games: I have totaled the stats for August alone and noticed a few trends.  On a per-plate-appearance basis among only regulars, Matt Diaz was clearly the offensive MVP.  He’s still not walking much, but he’s hitting for power at a very good rate (.786 SLG and .400 ISO for a whole month!), but there’s little doubt he should be playing every day.  Teixeira and Chipper were not far behind, and they led the team in aggregate production, fueled by Tex’s 10 homers.  Francoeur and Andruw were at the bottom of the list, and just for fun, here are Frenchy’s walk totals by month: 9, 5, 5, 8, 6.  The 9 was a good start, but his OBP is down to .335, despite a .293 average.

The pitching stats shouldn’t be a big surprise, except that neither Smoltz nor Hudson had a positive WPA in August.  Cormier, Reyes, James, and Carlyle were even worse, with Carlyle posting a 6.75 ERA in six starts (zero QS).  His last positive-WPA start was almost a month ago.  Of course, Jo-Jo has but one (slightly) positive WPA start in his career.

The Road Ahead

It’s a long and uphill road, for sure.  The Braves are at home all week against the Phillies and Nats, with these probable pitchers:

Tuesday: Carlyle vs. Kyle Lohse
Wednesday: Hudson vs. Kyle Kendrick
Friday: James vs. Joel Hanrahan
Saturday: Smoltz vs. TBA
Sunday: Cormier vs. TBA

I hope TBA isn’t very good.

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