Braves Check: Can the Braves win the NL Central instead, please?

The Braves are a game back of Chicago for first place in the NL Central after a big week that included a sweep of the Marlins and three more wins against the Brewers.  What?  You mean they’re still in the NL East?  Fine.  They’re 5.5 out and within a day or two from being mathematically eliminated, but they have won seven of eight and clinched an over-.500 season, which is a good thing.

This Week’s Stats

Scores and FanGraphs game summaries:

9/17: Braves 11, Marlins 6
9/18: Braves 4, Marlins 3
9/19: Braves 5, Marlins 1
9/20: Braves 3, Brewers 1
9/21: Brewers 4, Braves 1
9/22: Braves 4, Brewers 3
9/23: Braves 7, Brewers 4

Stats for the week alone:

Hitting PA OPS pLI WPA WPA/LI Clutch CP pWPA pWPA/LI pClutch pCP
Scott Thorman 2 2.500 0.99 +0.487 +0.217 +0.270 +0.272 +24.35 +10.85 +13.50 +13.61
Mark Teixeira 30 0.977 0.94 +0.286 +0.191 +0.095 +0.107 +0.95 +0.64 +0.32 +0.36
Martin Prado 1 2.000 2.86 +0.211 +0.074 +0.137 +0.000 +21.10 +7.38 +13.72 +0.00
Matt Diaz 19 0.865 1.08 +0.196 +0.077 +0.119 +0.113 +1.03 +0.40 +0.63 +0.60
Chipper Jones 31 1.116 1.06 +0.186 +0.432 -0.246 -0.270 +0.60 +1.39 -0.79 -0.87
Edgar Renteria 31 0.799 0.99 +0.167 +0.134 +0.033 +0.034 +0.54 +0.43 +0.11 +0.11
Yunel Escobar 16 1.101 1.01 +0.091 +0.208 -0.117 -0.119 +0.57 +1.30 -0.73 -0.74
Pete Orr 3 1.167 0.96 +0.068 +0.063 +0.005 +0.008 +2.27 +2.08 +0.18 +0.28
Tim Hudson 3 1.167 0.95 +0.018 +0.018 +0.000 +0.001 +0.60 +0.58 +0.02 +0.05
Julio Franco 1 2.000 0.11 +0.007 +0.064 -0.057 +0.000 +0.70 +6.36 -5.66 +0.00
Brian McCann 24 0.675 0.84 +0.003 -0.003 +0.006 +0.005 +0.01 -0.01 +0.02 +0.02
Brayan Pena 2 0.000 0.03 -0.003 -0.060 +0.057 -0.002 -0.15 -3.00 +2.85 -0.08
Chris Woodward 1 0.000 0.09 -0.003 -0.033 +0.030 +0.000 -0.30 -3.33 +3.03 +0.00
Corky Miller 3 0.667 1.37 -0.010 -0.012 +0.002 +0.007 -0.33 -0.41 +0.08 +0.24
Chuck James 3 0.000 0.25 -0.019 -0.076 +0.057 +0.000 -0.63 -2.54 +1.91 +0.01
Jo-Jo Reyes 4 0.000 1.32 -0.024 -0.012 -0.012 -0.008 -0.60 -0.31 -0.29 -0.19
Willie Harris 4 0.000 0.24 -0.025 -0.079 +0.054 -0.006 -0.63 -1.97 +1.35 -0.15
Brandon Lamon Jones 4 0.000 0.62 -0.026 -0.046 +0.020 +0.002 -0.65 -1.14 +0.49 +0.05
Jeff Bennett 2 0.000 0.93 -0.053 -0.054 +0.001 -0.003 -2.65 -2.69 +0.04 -0.16
John Smoltz 5 0.400 0.50 -0.088 -0.117 +0.029 -0.029 -1.76 -2.35 +0.59 -0.58
Kelly Johnson 18 0.528 0.81 -0.100 -0.070 -0.030 -0.044 -0.56 -0.39 -0.17 -0.24
Jeff Francoeur 28 0.519 0.91 -0.170 -0.260 +0.090 +0.068 -0.61 -0.93 +0.32 +0.24
Andruw Jones 28 0.694 0.96 -0.221 +0.127 -0.348 -0.343 -0.79 +0.46 -1.24 -1.23
Totals 263 0.769 0.93 +0.978 +0.780 +0.198 -0.205 +0.37 +0.30 +0.08 -0.08
Total Pitching IP ERA pLI WPA WPA/LI Clutch CP pWPA pWPA/LI pClutch pCP
Rafael Soriano 6.0 1.50 0.85 +0.435 +0.237 +0.198 +0.235 +1.98 +1.08 +0.90 +1.07
John Smoltz 14.0 1.93 0.93 +0.415 +0.319 +0.096 +0.119 +0.83 +0.64 +0.19 +0.24
Chuck James 7.0 0.00 0.71 +0.301 +0.425 -0.124 -0.001 +1.25 +1.77 -0.52 -0.00
Joey Devine 1.7 0.00 2.60 +0.217 +0.034 +0.183 +0.129 +3.10 +0.49 +2.61 +1.84
Tim Hudson 7.7 3.52 1.47 +0.199 +0.254 -0.055 -0.174 +0.60 +0.77 -0.17 -0.53
Jeff Bennett 5.7 1.59 1.04 +0.194 +0.063 +0.131 +0.129 +0.81 +0.26 +0.55 +0.54
Octavio Dotel 1.3 0.00 2.27 +0.164 +0.062 +0.102 +0.023 +3.28 +1.25 +2.03 +0.46
Jo-Jo Reyes 10.3 3.48 1.15 +0.066 +0.181 -0.115 -0.142 +0.16 +0.43 -0.27 -0.34
Jose Ascanio 0.7 40.50 0.10 -0.008 -0.155 +0.147 +0.008 -0.13 -2.59 +2.45 +0.13
Tyler Yates 1.7 16.20 1.27 -0.009 -0.074 +0.065 +0.085 -0.10 -0.83 +0.73 +0.95
Royce Ring 0.3 0.00 1.54 -0.031 -0.018 -0.013 -0.004 -1.03 -0.59 -0.45 -0.13
Ron Mahay 2.0 0.00 3.08 -0.046 -0.037 -0.009 +0.068 -0.42 -0.34 -0.08 +0.62
Manuel Acosta 3.0 6.00 1.14 -0.051 -0.015 -0.036 -0.034 -0.32 -0.10 -0.22 -0.21
Peter Moylan 3.7 2.45 1.00 -0.289 -0.124 -0.165 -0.166 -1.81 -0.77 -1.03 -1.03
Totals 65.0 2.91 1.19 +1.557 +1.151 +0.406 +0.275 +0.58 +0.43 +0.15 +0.10
Relief Pitching G IP TBF gmLI G/T tG/T USG SV EO EOC EO%
Rafael Soriano 6 6.0 22 1.35 0.74 1.73 0.99 3 2 2 100%
Joey Devine 2 1.7 7 2.59 1.42 1.66 0.24 0 1 1 100%
Jose Ascanio 1 0.7 6 0.04 0.02 1.49 1.46 0 0 0 0%
Octavio Dotel 2 1.3 5 1.84 1.01 1.27 0.26 0 1 1 100%
Tyler Yates 3 1.7 9 1.98 1.08 1.10 0.01 0 1 2 50%
Ron Mahay 4 2.0 11 3.72 2.04 0.74 -1.29 0 1 3 33%
Royce Ring 3 0.3 3 1.54 0.84 0.72 -0.12 0 0 0 0%
Manuel Acosta 4 3.0 16 1.55 0.85 0.62 -0.24 0 1 2 50%
Peter Moylan 5 3.7 16 1.22 0.67 0.00 -0.67 0 0 1 0%
Totals 30 20.3 95 1.82 18 3 7 12 58%

Season totals:

Hitting PA OPS pLI WPA WPA/LI Clutch CP pWPA pWPA/LI pClutch pCP
Chipper Jones 577 1.033 1.06 +4.111 +4.548 -0.437 -0.731 +0.71 +0.79 -0.08 -0.13
Yunel Escobar 335 0.835 0.98 +2.480 +1.509 +0.971 +1.008 +0.74 +0.45 +0.29 +0.30
Edgar Renteria 530 0.862 0.96 +1.820 +1.959 -0.139 -0.059 +0.34 +0.37 -0.03 -0.01
Matt Diaz 368 0.871 1.00 +1.515 +1.547 -0.032 -0.028 +0.41 +0.42 -0.01 -0.01
Mark Teixeira 220 1.006 1.09 +1.261 +1.103 +0.158 +0.061 +0.57 +0.50 +0.07 +0.03
Kelly Johnson 594 0.839 0.97 +1.179 +2.201 -1.022 -0.949 +0.20 +0.37 -0.17 -0.16
Corky Miller 24 0.726 1.01 +0.132 +0.017 +0.115 +0.115 +0.55 +0.07 +0.48 +0.48
Martin Prado 55 0.686 0.95 +0.094 +0.037 +0.057 +0.059 +0.17 +0.07 +0.10 +0.11
Brian McCann 539 0.783 1.04 +0.051 -0.700 +0.751 +0.779 +0.01 -0.13 +0.14 +0.14
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
Jeff Bennett 2 0.000 0.93 -0.053 -0.054 +0.001 -0.003 -2.65 -2.69 +0.04 -0.16
Oscar Villarreal 5 0.450 1.24 -0.053 -0.085 +0.032 +0.052 -1.06 -1.69 +0.63 +1.04
Brandon Lamon Jones 8 0.000 0.52 -0.069 -0.147 +0.078 +0.007 -0.86 -1.84 +0.98 +0.09
Jo-Jo Reyes 19 0.358 1.12 -0.140 -0.131 -0.009 +0.007 -0.74 -0.69 -0.04 +0.04
Willie Harris 376 0.758 1.01 -0.164 -0.422 +0.258 +0.262 -0.04 -0.11 +0.07 +0.07
Tim Hudson 81 0.595 0.77 -0.221 -0.295 +0.074 +0.007 -0.27 -0.36 +0.09 +0.01
Lance Cormier 17 0.059 0.67 -0.281 -0.349 +0.068 -0.048 -1.65 -2.05 +0.40 -0.28
Jeff Francoeur 674 0.767 1.00 -0.424 -0.735 +0.311 +0.309 -0.06 -0.11 +0.05 +0.05
Julio Franco 45 0.636 1.05 -0.431 -0.081 -0.350 -0.346 -0.96 -0.18 -0.78 -0.77
Brayan Pena 29 0.517 1.28 -0.525 -0.357 -0.168 -0.070 -1.81 -1.23 -0.58 -0.24
Buddy Carlyle 42 0.258 0.89 -0.548 -0.696 +0.148 +0.074 -1.30 -1.66 +0.35 +0.18
Pete Orr 66 0.437 0.77 -0.619 -0.500 -0.119 -0.233 -0.94 -0.76 -0.18 -0.35
Jarrod Saltalamacchia 153 0.745 1.11 -0.711 -0.273 -0.438 -0.408 -0.46 -0.18 -0.29 -0.27
Scott Thorman 300 0.662 0.92 -0.795 -0.580 -0.215 -0.261 -0.27 -0.19 -0.07 -0.09
Chuck James 61 0.268 0.85 -0.810 -0.913 +0.103 -0.033 -1.33 -1.50 +0.17 -0.05
John Smoltz 67 0.201 0.85 -0.912 -1.072 +0.160 +0.001 -1.36 -1.60 +0.24 +0.00
Chris Woodward 147 0.503 1.03 -0.940 -1.180 +0.240 +0.275 -0.64 -0.80 +0.16 +0.19
Andruw Jones 647 0.726 1.08 -2.495 -0.903 -1.592 -1.522 -0.39 -0.14 -0.25 -0.24
Totals 6147 0.773 1.00 +0.524 +1.718 -1.194 -2.069 +0.01 +0.03 -0.02 -0.03
Total Pitching IP ERA pLI WPA WPA/LI Clutch CP pWPA pWPA/LI pClutch pCP
John Smoltz 201.7 2.95 1.03 +2.496 +2.759 -0.263 -0.346 +0.30 +0.33 -0.03 -0.04
Peter Moylan 87.7 1.85 0.79 +2.301 +1.547 +0.754 +1.077 +0.66 +0.44 +0.22 +0.31
Rafael Soriano 71.0 3.04 1.17 +2.299 +1.450 +0.849 +0.603 +0.84 +0.53 +0.31 +0.22
Tim Hudson 218.3 3.34 0.94 +2.148 +3.237 -1.089 -0.907 +0.24 +0.36 -0.12 -0.10
Chuck James 157.7 4.11 0.99 +1.089 -0.104 +1.193 +1.192 +0.16 -0.02 +0.18 +0.18
Tyler Yates 65.0 5.26 1.06 +0.362 +0.045 +0.317 +0.314 +0.12 +0.02 +0.11 +0.11
Manuel Acosta 19.7 2.29 0.88 +0.235 +0.451 -0.216 -0.162 +0.29 +0.56 -0.27 -0.20
Joey Devine 6.7 1.35 0.72 +0.204 +0.098 +0.106 +0.134 +0.66 +0.32 +0.34 +0.43
Jeff Bennett 5.7 1.59 1.04 +0.194 +0.063 +0.131 +0.129 +0.81 +0.26 +0.55 +0.54
Ron Mahay 25.0 2.52 1.44 +0.100 +0.091 +0.009 -0.031 +0.09 +0.08 +0.01 -0.03
Royce Ring 3.7 0.00 0.48 +0.033 +0.192 -0.159 -0.060 +0.21 +1.20 -0.99 -0.37
Jose Ascanio 15.0 5.40 0.69 -0.117 +0.019 -0.136 -0.130 -0.16 +0.03 -0.19 -0.18
Chad Paronto 40.3 3.57 0.63 -0.120 -0.364 +0.244 +0.111 -0.07 -0.20 +0.14 +0.06
Oscar Villarreal 75.3 4.30 0.79 -0.380 -0.360 -0.020 -0.094 -0.11 -0.11 -0.01 -0.03
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 103.0 5.16 0.87 -0.848 -0.402 -0.446 -0.499 -0.19 -0.09 -0.10 -0.11
Jo-Jo Reyes 44.0 6.75 1.05 -1.261 -0.983 -0.278 -0.231 -0.62 -0.49 -0.14 -0.11
Lance Cormier 45.7 7.09 0.84 -1.483 -1.324 -0.159 -0.371 -0.71 -0.63 -0.08 -0.18
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 1406.3 4.12 0.97 +3.483 +2.753 +0.730 +0.162 +0.06 +0.05 +0.01 +0.00
Relief Pitching G IP TBF gmLI G/T tG/T USG SV EO EOC EO%
Rafael Soriano 70 71.0 273 1.32 1.25 1.86 0.61 10 13 17 76%
Peter Moylan 76 87.7 349 0.87 0.82 1.72 0.90 1 8 9 89%
Tyler Yates 74 65.0 291 1.07 1.01 1.09 0.08 2 7 12 58%
Chad Paronto 41 40.3 180 0.82 0.77 0.99 0.22 1 2 5 40%
Joey Devine 7 6.7 31 0.84 0.79 0.79 0.00 0 1 1 100%
Ron Mahay 26 25.0 107 1.49 1.40 0.65 -0.75 0 4 8 50%
Oscar Villarreal 50 75.3 331 1.01 0.95 0.61 -0.34 1 7 11 64%
Jose Ascanio 12 15.0 71 0.50 0.47 0.44 -0.02 0 1 2 50%
Royce Ring 8 3.7 16 0.85 0.80 0.41 -0.39 0 0 0 0%
Manuel Acosta 18 19.7 80 1.02 0.96 0.33 -0.63 0 3 4 75%
Jo-Jo Reyes 1 3.3 16 0.00 0.00 0.24 0.24 0 0 0 0%
Bob Wickman 49 43.7 204 1.60 1.51 0.21 -1.30 20 11 15 73%
Buddy Carlyle 2 3.0 10 0.61 0.58 0.00 -0.58 0 0 0 0%
Totals 503 518.7 2245 1.06 260 37 62 91 68%

Best plays of the week:

  1. Scott Thorman homered off Francisco Cordero, tying Saturday’s game at 3 with two outs in the bottom of the 10th inning (+.488).
  2. Matt Diaz singled in a run off Claudio Vargas, tying yesterday’s game at 4 and advancing a runner to second (+.222).
  3. Martin Prado singled off Ray King, advancing Diaz to third and scoring Andruw Jones later in the inning to give the Braves a 5-4 lead (+.211).
  4. Mark Teixeira singled off Brian Shouse, driving in the winning run of Saturday’s 4-3 game against the Brewers (+.180).
  5. Joey Devine got Damian Miller to fly out, stranding the bases loaded in the top of the 11th on Saturday (+.175).

Comments

Even though the games are mostly irrelevant now, it’s good to see the Braves have a good week.  A sweep of the Phillies would pull the teams even for second place, and it would be nice to see the Braves wreck two different teams’ playoff hopes in one week.

Let’s get the poor performances out of the way first.  Johnson and Francoeur struggled at the plate, and Andruw Jones posted a negative WPA despite a couple of home runs.  He now has 26 HR and 93 RBI (so he could even get to 100), but that .221/.312/.414 line is still awful compared to his career numbers.  Johnson’s season WPA of +1.181 is at its lowest since 4/24, but you have to appreciate an .839 OPS coming from someone seeing his first full-time action at second base.  Frenchy is closing in on one win below average at -.424 for the season.  His great power has been mostly missing this season, and his OPS is only about 40 points better than Andruw’s.

McCann had an average week at the plate, and then you see the usual suspects on the rest of the leaderboard.  Scott Thorman had a huge home run to pull him above two wins below average at -.795.  Teixeira, Chipper, Diaz, Renteria, and Escobar all fell into the slightly-above-average category, with Tex having the best week overall.  When you have that many players hitting that well, that’s a good sign.  Also a good sign: Diaz 19 PAs, Harris 4.

On the other side of the ball, four of seven starts were of the “quality” variety, including both of John Smoltz’ (and neither of Jo-Jo Reyes’).  Jeff Bennett was 1/3 of an inning away from recording one, and it’s hard to say his start wasn’t successful for a spot guy.  This probably goes to show the futility of trying to reduce a measurement of the quality of a start to one binary variable (“yes” or “no”).  Hudson and James pitched the other “quality” starts.  All five of the Braves’ starters finished above zero in WPA for the week, which I believe is the case for the first time all season.  Together they totaled +1.175, which is quite impressive.

Rafael Soriano was the relief MVP, pitching in 6 of 7 games and converting both of his effective outing chances.  He allowed one earned run in six innings, but it’s interesting to see that only Ascanio and Moylan were used in lower-leverage chances on average.  Ascanio, Yates, Acosta, Moylan, Ring, and Mahay all finished below zero in WPA, with Mahay converting just 1 of 3 EOs.  As a staff, the bullpen converted 7 of 12 such chances, slightly south of the going rate for the year (68%).  Of course, when you play a ton of close (extra inning) games, you’re going to end up putting players in those roles when you otherwise wouldn’t.

Barring a huge collapse, Chipper Jones (+4.111) will lead the Braves in WPA this year, as he currently has a lead of over 1.6 over second place (John Smoltz).  Smoltz will be fighting off Escobar, Moylan, Soriano, and possibly Hudson, for second-place honors.

The Road Ahead

The Braves finish the season on the road, in Philly and Houston for three games each.  With no realistic shot to reach the playoffs (the Mets would need to go 1-6 against Washington, St. Louis, and Florida, with the Braves going 6-0), they’ll have to play spoiler to the Phillies in order to accomplish much this week.  The Phils are currently 2.5 back of the Mets, with a 34% chance to reach the playoffs according to Cool Standings.

Here are the probables:

Tuesday: James vs. Jamie Moyer
Wednesday: Hudson vs. Kyle Lohse
Thursday: Smoltz vs. Adam Eaton
Friday: Reyes vs. Roy Oswalt
Saturday: TBA vs. TBA
Sunday: James vs. Felipe Paulino

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One thought on “Braves Check: Can the Braves win the NL Central instead, please?

  1. The answer is (unfortunately), no. From the perspective of a Cubs fan, you need to stay where you are.

    The Braves took care of business with the Beermakers this weekend; we owe you one.

    I’ve got mixed feelings about the Braves-Phils series; I like the Phils but I’d much rather see NY in the playoffs right now.

    A-Rod a Cub?

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