Atlanta Braves Farewell Tour for Larry Wayne Jones

Chipper Jones is healthy for now, so Dodger fans get to see the future HOF at least one more time. One of the greatest switch hitters of all time, Chipper has been a class act since being the number one overall pick in 1990. One of the few times the number one overall pick has proved to be worth it.

Manager: Fredi Gonzalez (7-9)
Scored 53 runs, Allowed 51 runs. Pythagorean W-L: 8-8

Both teams are 7 - 9 and both will probably leave the Ravine 9 - 11. The Braves are pitching just fine, but just  like the Dodgers, other then the key stars like Chipper, Heyward, and McCann the rest of the offense is struggling.   The Braves pitching staff has only given up 48 earned runs to the Dodgers 74.

Key Additions: Dan Uggla, Freddie Freeman, Brandon BeachyGeorge Sherrill, Scott Linebrink

Key Subtractions: Troy Glaus, Omar Infante, Matt Diaz, Derrek Lee, Billy Wagner

Position Breakdown

1st Base- Troy Glaus and D Lee are gone so the Braves are rolling the dice, and giving the gig to twenty one year old Freddie Freeman. So far Freeman is struggling with a .680 OPS, expectations are around a .780 OPS in his first year. The baseballhq scouting report on the rookie:

Strengths: Strength. Bat speed/power/BA ability. Plate discipline. Arm strength.
Weaknesses: Contact ability. Speed/agility.
Comments: Strong-framed hitter with natural strength, bat speed, and uppercut swing that generates line-drive power. Improved plate discipline and shortened stroke keep BA strong. Lacks speed/agility, but defense remains solid with soft hands and arm strength. Monster 2nd half at Triple-A (.375/.432/.595) and September debut puts him on the doorstep of a FT job in 2011.
2011 MLB Role: Potential Starting 1B and 2011 ROY Candidate.

2nd Base- Martin Prado has been bounced to the outfield in an effort to make a valuable player as least valuable as possible. In his place is the slugging Dan Uggla who was acquired for Omar Infante.  Uggla has hit 30 home runs or more four times in a row in a tough pitching park. Moving to Atlanta he should have no problem making it five. Eighteen NL 2nd baseman have hit 30 home runs in a year and four of those years belong to Uggla. No one in the history of baseball has done it four times as a second baseman.

SS - Braves dumped the immensely talented Yunel Escobar for Alex Gonzalez last year and it seemed to pay off in 2010. In 2011 Escobar is living up to his potential in Toronto while Alex Gonzalez is doing what he does best. Hit some home runs, play defense, and doing his best to keep his career OBP below .300.

3rd Base -  Future HOF, Chipper Jones is coming off two sub par seasons for him but so far in 2011 he's showing the skills of possibly the greatest NL switch hitter in history.

                                                                                
Player OPS+ PA From To G HR RBI BA OBP SLG OPS Pos
Lance Berkman 146 6765 1999 2011 1605 332 1103 .297 .409 .551 .960 3798/D
Reggie Smith 145 3786 1974 1982 973 165 556 .294 .379 .510 .889 *93/85
Chipper Jones 142 9713 1993 2011 2276 438 1503 .306 .405 .536 .941 *57/6D9
Tim Raines 130 6370 1979 2002 1550 97 563 .300 .390 .435 .825 *78/4D9
Carlos Beltran 126 3670 2004 2011 845 159 552 .276 .365 .504 .870 *8/9D
Ripper Collins 126 4205 1931 1941 1084 135 659 .296 .360 .492 .852 *3/97
Bobby Bonilla 125 7029 1986 2001 1818 247 985 .276 .356 .471 .827 *597/3D81
Ted Simmons 125 6917 1968 1988 1791 182 995 .294 .363 .453 .815 *23/759
Augie Galan 122 6967 1934 1949 1730 100 830 .287 .390 .420 .810 *78/35496
Eddie Murray 120 3267 1989 1997 787 108 475 .277 .348 .442 .790 *3/5

Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 4/17/2011. p> 

 

CBrian McCann has been one of the offensive catchers in baseball ever since he showed up in 2006.

                                                                                      
Rk Player OPS+ G From To Age PA BA OBP SLG OPS Tm
1 Joe Mauer 141 679 2006 2011 23-28 2940 .333 .414 .488 .902 MIN
2 Jorge Posada 128 581 2006 2011 34-39 2264 .286 .379 .498 .877 NYY
3 Brian McCann 124 709 2006 2011 22-27 2788 .291 .361 .495 .856 ATL
4 Victor Martinez 121 670 2006 2011 27-32 2865 .301 .369 .471 .840 CLE-TOT-BOS-DET
5 Mike Napoli 120 512 2006 2011 24-29 1827 .252 .347 .489 .837 LAA-TEX
6 Russell Martin 102 679 2006 2011 23-28 2757 .272 .364 .399 .762 LAD-NYY

Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 4/17/2011.

CF - Nate McLouth was terrible last year and is just as bad this year. I thought he would bounce back but he's giving Uribe and Loney a run for the title of worst hitter of April 2011 with a .550 OPS. A bit of hyperbole on my part, no one is close to being as bad as James Loney.  As you can see we have two worst hitters in the league, but the Braves have the 11th/12th worst hitters in the league, and both teams expected significant contributions from the quartet.  Using 50 plate appearances as the cut off.

 

                                                             
Player OPS+ OPS PA Lg AB BA OBP SLG Pos
James Loney 7 .391 63 NL 60 .150 .175 .217 *3
Juan Uribe 21 .440 57 NL 52 .154 .228 .212 *5/46

Will Venable 24 .437 51 NL 44 .159 .255 .182 *9
Pedro Alvarez 32 .486 62 NL 57 .193 .258 .228 *5
Kelly Johnson 32 .501 64 NL 57 .158 .238 .263 *4
Ryan Ludwick 34 .471 57 NL 48 .125 .263 .208 *7
Yuniesky Betancourt 41 .521 52 NL 48 .208 .250 .271 *6
Carlos Gomez 42 .525 56 NL 51 .196 .250 .275 *8
Angel Pagan 44 .526 71 NL 59 .169 .271 .254 *8
Omar Infante 46 .554 65 NL 59 .220 .266 .288 *4
Nate McLouth 50 .550 59 NL 52 .212 .281 .269 *8
Dan Uggla 51 .574 64 NL 62 .177 .203 .371 *4
Bill Hall 53 .565 56 NL 54 .204 .232 .333 *4

Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 4/18/2011.

 

RF - Twenty one year old Jason Heyward is not surprisingly leading the Braves in OPS at .917. At twenty he had the best  season of the decade, and 7th best since integration based on OPS+. You don't have to look to closely at the list below to realize you are looking at HOF talent other then Vada Pinson.

                                                              
Player OPS+ PA Year Age BA OBP SLG OPS Pos
Al Kaline 162 681 1955 20 .340 .421 .546 .967 *9
Mickey Mantle 161 626 1952 20 .311 .394 .530 .924 *89/5
Alex Rodriguez 160 677 1996 20 .358 .414 .631 1.045 *6
Frank Robinson 142 668 1956 20 .290 .379 .558 .936 *78
Ken Griffey 135 666 1990 20 .300 .366 .481 .847 *8/D
Tony Conigliaro 133 586 1965 20 .269 .338 .512 .850 *9/8
Jason Heyward 131 623 2010 20 .277 .393 .456 .849 *9
Vada Pinson 128 706 1959 20 .316 .371 .509 .880 *8
Orlando Cepeda 125 644 1958 20 .312 .342 .512 .854 *3
Willie Mays 120 524 1951 20 .274 .356 .472 .828 *8

Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 4/18/2011.

LF - Martin Prado can play everywhere and do everything, but maybe LF is not the best place for a 2nd/3rd baseman. He's struggling so far but with a career TSL of .304/.351/.451, he should get going.

Bench - David Ross continues to back up McCann, Erik Hinske continues to provide pop against RHP, playoff goat Brooks Conrad fills in around the infield.  Matt Young plays some outfield like Xavier Paul plays some outfield.

 Starting Pitching for our Series:

Game 1 - Tim Hudson continues to provide solid work, his tERA of 2.63 leads the rotation and is good for 9th in the NL.

Game 2 - Brandon Beachy is the rookie who beat out the more heralded Mike Minor. Beachy is the weak spot in the rotation with a 5.13 tERA and here is the scouting report from baseballhq. Beachy just like the Royals Tim Collins was a non drafted free agent, and yet still made it to the major leagues in less then two years.

Strengths: 90-94 MPH fastball. 81-84 MPH Change-up. Slider. Curveball.
Weaknesses: Extreme Flyball Pitcher.
Comments: Strong, durable hurler from Indiana Wesleyan reached the majors in less than two years despite being a NDFA. Features a solid 90-94 MPH, change-up, slider, and a decent curve. Gets good movement on his FB and slider and can locate all four pitchers. Gave up just 28 walks, a 1.73 ERA, and a .211 BAA in 119.1 minor league innings, yet still didn't get much fanfare. Like Chris Medlen was primarily a reliever until 2010, but the conversion was a huge success and he could land a starting role in Atlanta in 2011.

Game 3 -Derek Lowe was one of the Dodgers best FA signings of all time. He's not a bust with the Braves but he certainly is not earning his 15,000,000 per year four year deal. He delivers his innings, and does solid work but he's average and the Braves were not paying for average.

Game 4- Jair Jurrjens came off the DL in time to pitch last Saturday, and threw  a two hitter over seven innings against a weak Met lineup. Jurrjens was a bright young pitcher in 2008/2009 but struggled in 2010 and was only able to throw 116 innings.

Bullpen - Even with Billy Wagner gone the Braves have a dynamic back end with Venters and Kimbrel. When not facing your team they are fun to watch as the youngsters dominate like Kuo/Broxton did in their heyday. Kimbrel is as nasty as it gets these days, with his 15 K/9 dominance combined with a puny 1.50 BB/9 rate  The whole bullpen loves the strike out as Linebrink and Moylan both have a K/9 rate of 12. Luckily Peter Moylan went on the DL last week, so he's out of the picture.  The left handers are Venters who will pitch the 8th with a lead and old friend George Sherrill. We can count on George to walk Loney at some point this series.

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