What do Giants and Cards have that the Braves lack?

These guys do this all the time, don't they? (Marcio Jose Sanchez/AP photo)

These guys do this all the time, don’t they? (Marcio Jose Sanchez/AP photo)

These guys do this all the time, don't they? (Marcio Jose Sanchez/AP photo)

These guys do this all the time, don’t they? (Marcio Jose Sanchez/AP photo)

Not to belabor a point, but over the past five seasons the Atlanta Braves have won 449 regular-season games. The San Francisco Giants have won 436; the St. Louis Cardinals have won 451. (From Opening Day 2010 through Sept. 18 of this year, the Braves and Cards had won the same number of games.)

Over that span, the Braves have won no playoff series — we count the wild card play-in as a series — and are 2-7 in postseason games. The Giants have won eight consecutive series and are 26-10 in postseason; the Cardinals have won eight of 10 series and are 30-22 in postseason. The Giants won the 2010 and 2012 World Series. The Cards won the 2011 World Series and lost to the Red Sox last season.

Either the Giants or the Cardinals will grace the 2014 Fall Classic. The Braves’ season dissolved in a puddle of non-scoring and blame-levying. Today we ask, not for the first time: Why do the Giants and Cardinals rise in October, and what stops the Braves from doing the same?

We can round up the usual “explanations.” Those teams Know How To Win Big Games. Those teams have “clutch” players and the Braves don’t. Those teams have No. 1 starters and the Braves don’t. (Although the best No. 1 starter in the business lost twice to the Cardinals.) Those teams have better managers. (Although the Cards have had two different managers in this run.) Those teams play with “emotion.” (Although I’d note that the losing Nationals were rather emotional after Bryce Harper’s tying home run last night.)

Going on the empirical, as opposed to the ephemeral, we return to some slender truths: The Cardinals and Giants do tend to put the ball in play more than the Braves — meaning they strike out less — and they do tend to hit better with runners in scoring position. (Here, though, we note that the Cardinals, who hit an unbelievable .330 with RISP last season, returned to reality this year, hitting only .258. Still, that was far better than the Braves, who hit .236, third-worst in baseball.)

We might also mention that the Cardinals, at least over the regular season, finished last in the National League in home runs, which might suggest that they’re schooled in the art of Small Ball. (It might also suggest that they’re not very good at hitting home runs.) But that wouldn’t explain their victory over the Dodgers, in which 13 of their 18 runs came via the homer.

As we’ve again been reminded, much of what happens in October defies reason. According to Las Vegas, the four favorites to win the World Series entering October were the Nationals, the Dodgers, the Tigers and the Angels. All have been eliminated; none won even two games in its best-of-five Division Series. The roundly respected stats-based Baseball Prospectus picked the wrong winner in all four matchups. I’ve all but given up trying to project the postseason, but if pressed I’d have guessed the Dodgers and Tigers would meet in the World Series. Nope and nope.

I’ll leave you with this: Even as we wonder why the Braves can’t win in October, be advised that those who cover the teams that finished with the National League’s two best records are asking the same question. The Washington Post suggested that the Nats lost because they lack the Giants’ postseason grit and experience; the Los Angeles Times averred that the Dodgers just blew it.

Reader Comments 0

169 comments
Fun and Gun
Fun and Gun

The Giants and Cardinals have better hitting, pitching and base running. 


It doesn't help that they have been doing it with some "still could be" Braves i.e. Wainwright and Blanco.

It doesn't help the Braves that they fell short of acquiring a stud likeHunter Pence from Houston when they had the chance.

It doesn't help the Braves that they got the wrong end of the deal in acquiring BJ and Uggla. In result losing Prado and Infante.

It doesn't help that Francouer and Heyward could not consistently live up to the hype of playing right field for the home team.

It doesn't help while watching the team reshape in trading away Upton, Heyward and Gattis in trades that don't appear as favorable as the one time trade of Teixeira  was to Texas.

It doesn't help that we lost two top starters in Beachy and Medlin are second time TJ casualties.


The Giants and Cardinals seemed to overcome these types of disasters and bad contracts.


I just hope it gets better.

Jazzpman
Jazzpman

They lack the Brains to see you need pieces, Guys like Omar Infante, and Gregor Blanco......Amazing how dumb they were to trade away them and Prado !

tbone1258
tbone1258

Gonzalez is trash by that I mean Fredi. The one thing he had 2 do for me was bring Kimbrel out of the bullpen in the 2013 nlds and he screwed that up it doesn't get any worst than that. I'm sick of Booby Cox also the 90' s are gone. I hear people talk about the braves way not sure what that is 14 division titles one. World series blah... don't get me wrong luv Cox but am I the only who feels we should have done more and now this guy is a part of the decision making process the 90' s r gone. Can we just move on clean house up top new coaching staff some new players.

ChopChamps95
ChopChamps95

You can answer the question to the article title in one word: Everything.  Ownership is better, front office is better, the players are better, and the coaches are LIGHTYEARS better than anything the Braves have had sans maybe Roger McDowell over the last 4 years. John Schuerholz and Bobby Cox would rather make their friends and themselves happy and keep their outdated country club, only work with your pals mentality going strong than make the fans happy and put together a fundamentally sound ball club with good coaching.

iBalling
iBalling

These teams have hard nose baseball players who can hit the ball and get on base. They also have good pitching and GOOD coaches. You can easily see this every time they play. It's simple and I am not a baseball analyst.

SaveAmericaFromItself
SaveAmericaFromItself

While the Braves' hitters embarrass themselves swinging for the fences and striking out, guess which teams in the NL & AL had the FEWEST home runs in 2014 ?

St. Louis (105) and Kansas City (95) ! Even with the DH the Royals only had 95 !



 



BigHittas
BigHittas

They don't have Big Joke Melvin to 'have' to play like Fredi does. Fredi played Big Joke because sitting him long term like he deserved would've cost Fredi his job.

Big Joke and a few of his spindly little teammates love to swing for the fences when they should be tying to hit gappers. 

SaveAmericaFromItself
SaveAmericaFromItself

@ppaddy123 

Assuming John Hart sticks around as GM he'll have a lot on his plate this off-season. Because of contracts incurred under Wren, not sure what can be done that will transform this team back into a contender, at least in 2015. Need more contact hitters, speed and execution of fundamentals in the starting lineup. I don't believe we currently have the personnel needed to do that. I'd be amazed if anyone will relieve us of BJ.   

ppaddy123
ppaddy123

@SaveAmericaFromItself @BigHittas You're talking about the same owner that hired Ozzie Guillen only to fire him before the season was over; signed free agents like crazy and then traded all of them, correct? The teams Fredi had were always competitive, even when they didn't have much talent. 

SaveAmericaFromItself
SaveAmericaFromItself

@BigHittas 

Why did Fredi continue playing Big Joke after Frank Wren was fired ? 

The Marlins' owner said Fredi was a "colossal failure" as a manager in Miami. 

Doktor13
Doktor13

@ppaddy123 @SaveAmericaFromItself @BigHittas


"You're talking about the same owner that hired Ozzie Guillen only to fire him before the season was over; signed free agents like crazy and then traded all of them, correct?"

And won 2 World Championships in the span of 8 years... dumbass... {SMFH}

ppaddy123
ppaddy123

@Doktor13 Loria didn't win two championships. He bought the team in 2003 when they last won. That team was "set up" by John Henry who went on to own the Red Sox and win in 2007. I won't stoop to your level and by calling you a dumbass, but you might want to have your facts right before calling someone else a dumbass...........just sayin'

SaveAmericaFromItself
SaveAmericaFromItself

@ppaddy123 @Doktor13 

The Marlins will finish ahead of the Braves the next several seasons as long as the good old boy, nepotism-loving clowns continue to live in the 1990s and feather their own nest. You are too blind to see that..

ppaddy123
ppaddy123

@SaveAmericaFromItself @ppaddy123 @Doktor13 How am I blind? Because I don't think they need to fire Fredi? OK, but I've been saying continuously they need to make some moves. BJ.....gone. Trade Justin while his trade value is highest. MLB network and David O'Brian have both suggested they will trade Gattis. They need to address the starting pitching for 2015. I feel the "new team" will be built much like the teams from the early 90's; good pitching and defense with timely hitting. BTW Bobby Cox  built those teams. When I here talk of doing things "the Braves way," 1991 comes to mind. 

SaveAmericaFromItself
SaveAmericaFromItself

@ppaddy123 @SaveAmericaFromItself @Doktor13 

Bobby Cox did not acquire Sid Bream, Otis Nixon, Rafael Belliard, Greg Maddux, Terry Pendleton, Fred McGriff and other key players needed in the run of 14 division championships. Bobby Cox did acquire a young prospect named John Smoltz, and was instrumental in the development of Justice, Gant, Blauser, Lemke, Mercker, Avery & Glavine. To say Bobby Cox "built those teams" is crazy generous of you, and not entirely accurate.

ppaddy123
ppaddy123

@SaveAmericaFromItself @ppaddy123 @Doktor13 You just made my point for me........that was the nucleus of the early 90's teams. Did they add some other pieces like you stated? Absolutely. BTW, you neglected one major Bobby Box over site....... HE drafted Chipper Jones! 

ppaddy123
ppaddy123

@SaveAmericaFromItself With the exception of the 1982 team, the franchise had been a cellar dweller for years. I would argue playing in the NL west was a huge disadvantage for an east coast team but that's an argument for another day. Bobby Cox was a part of the front office that helped develop the core of those early 90's teams. He's in the hall of fame. Everyone else is wrong and you're right...............I don't know how he managed to stay in the game as long as he did.

SaveAmericaFromItself
SaveAmericaFromItself

@ppaddy123 @SaveAmericaFromItself 

Who wouldn't look like a genius with 3 HOF pitchers in his starting rotation. Should have won more than 1  WS in all those years, with all that talent. Household names like Cito Gaston and Tom Kelley won more WS than Bobby Cox.

SaveAmericaFromItself
SaveAmericaFromItself

@ppaddy123 @SaveAmericaFromItself 

In my mind, Bobby is no genius, just very fortunate. There are people in Braves' Nation that believe he walks on water. I'm not one of them. I'm tired of the spin by Braves' management that wants to convince the fans the 90s are still alive and how grateful we should be. 2015 approaches and I see little reason to get excited thanks to John Schuerholz and Frank Wren, whose messes will take years to clean up. 

ppaddy123
ppaddy123

@SaveAmericaFromItself There are plenty of great MLB players that never won a world series title. Ted Williams, Ken Griffey Jr, Carl Yastrzemski, Tony Gwynn, and countless others never won. Should we look at their careers as a failure? Again, I have acknowledged the Braves need to make changes. Frank Wren is gone. The front office has stated they are going to change the way they have been doing things. You're not getting rid of Bobby Cox. You're not getting rid of Schuerholz. The fan base (which by the way is in their 50' &60's) really likes them.  I think we should at least give them until the Winter meetings to see what moves they have in mind to make this team better, even if it means blowing up the team and starting over.

ppaddy123
ppaddy123

And one other thing...........if the Braves do release BJ Upton, they will still be on the hook for his $47 MM owed AND Uggla's $13.2 MM owed. They are going to have to trade a player with value (Justin Upton or a starting pitcher) and hope to get back as much value as possible, and hope they are at least getting back  "league average" talent.

ppaddy123
ppaddy123

@SaveAmericaFromItself I agree on BJ. What is the GM supposed to do in that situation? There's $50 MM WASTED on 2 players. All he can really do is rebuild with players off the scrap heap or trade for the future. At least after 2015 there will only be BJ's contract remaining.

ppaddy123
ppaddy123

@SaveAmericaFromItself They couldn't pay Bourn, but could pay BJ? For what it's worth, I would have let Bourn walk too, and not sign BJ. There were always plenty of alternatives.

SaveAmericaFromItself
SaveAmericaFromItself

@ppaddy123 @SaveAmericaFromItself 

Two years ago I was hammered on this forum for merely suggesting the Braves go after Lorenzo Cain of the Royals, then a 4th or 5th outfielder. He's a GA native, played CF, bats righty, good w/glove and best of all, had SPEED. He would have been a much cheaper alternative to re-signing Bourn. No, we needed BJ and all that POWER. Before you know it, Frank Wren had opened up the vault and signed BJ to 5 years @ 75 million, when BJ's name was not being linked to anyone else. We know the rest of the story. Given a chance to start, Cain has developed into a nice piece of the Royals' puzzle and I doubt the Braves could acquire him today. He's not the kind of player the Braves go after. I dream of a Billy Martin or Whitey Herzog style manager, one that enforces the games' fundamentals. I don't see it happening w/Fredi at the helm, nor do we have enough players to get it done.

Mr. Negative
Mr. Negative

What do they have, you say?? The lack of The Legacy. As the great philosopher Lewis Medlock one said "sometimes you got to lose yourself before you find anything". This franchise needs to lose a lot of stuff before they find a championship again. Starting with the owners.

SaveAmericaFromItself
SaveAmericaFromItself

The Nationals just demonstrated to the baseball world how pathetically WEAK the NL East really is. The 96 wins by the Braves in 2013 was a joke when you look at the competition within the division.


We know what happens once the post-season happens: reality.


The Braves need to be re-tooled to get through September, let alone the post-season.

ComaToes
ComaToes

All one has to do is take a look at the St. Louis Cardinals and manager, Mike Matheny.  In 3 years look what he has managed to accomplish.  Fredi G doesn't deserve to even be in the same league with him. The Braves owners and management always shoot for mediocrity and that's what they end up with. Braves fans are the most naive and gullible in all of MLB. You want more of what you have been getting just keep going to the games and making money for Liberty Media.  BUT, the worst of all is Cobb Co. and its citizens for allowing their commissioners to take them to the cleaners.  Hope you enjoy your "white elephant" !

GoBigOrGoHome
GoBigOrGoHome

They have hitters that show discipline at the plate and can actually hit mistakes from the pitcher. 

SaveAmericaFromItself
SaveAmericaFromItself

John Schuerholz: Please think outside the organization and hire someone from the Cardinals organization as the new GM !

Is Whitey Herzog too old ?

Retired-Soldier
Retired-Soldier

There are many reasons, most if not all have been mentioned in various posts. My two cents worth are:

1. Fredi should go, nice guy, lousy manager.

2. Rebuild the farm system, once the cream of the majors, not so now. That appears to be under way.

3. The obvious, release, trade, etc. BJ. Terrible hitter and below average fielder. None of us know what kind of clubhouse guy he is, but his on field performance alone he has to go. Move Heyward to center, Upton to right and put white bear in left. A lot of responsibility for Heyward but he can handle it.

4. That puts 4 boppers on the field (the outfielders plus Freddie). Trade Johnson and put Pastor at third and platoon second. That should be a good mix of power and small ball.

5. Pray for a little luck too.

ppaddy123
ppaddy123

@Retired-Soldier #1 Do you REALLY think he wanted Uggla and BJ in the lineup everyday? That came from upstairs. He did a great job managing his pitching. This team was PREDICTED to be a .500 ball club, but that was before he lost 2/5's of his starting rotation. #2 Agree

#3 Agree........somewhat. BJ has to go. Heyward is too injury prone to be an everyday CF. I would trade Justin while he has value. Gattis has a bad back and bad backs NEVER get better. He's destined to be an AL DH. #4 They just gave Johnson a new contract, plus "the Rev" hasn't shown anyone he can be an everyday player in MLB. If anything platoon Johnson. #5 Pray all you want. GOOD TEAMS MAKE THEIR OWN LUCK!

ATLFAN34
ATLFAN34

In my opinion the Braves lack a belief that they will win when it matters.  When I look into the Giants/Cards dugouts, whether they are up or down, they look like they believe they will win.  When I watched the Braves(almost every game) I saw a team that expected to struggle and lose.  We didn't look like we were having any fun.  


That said, the Giants and Cards have both gotten breaks over the years that has helped them in the postseason and it seems like the Braves don't.

SaveAmericaFromItself
SaveAmericaFromItself

@ATLFAN34 

Giants/Cards have gotten "breaks" over the years? More like playing fundamental baseball  - working the pitch counts, getting on base, sacrificing, stealing bases, managers that make things happen instead of looking like a bump on the log with his finger up his nose.

TreeRollins
TreeRollins

We have fired the elements that we're not working. Unfortunately, now we also have to overhaul the roster and rebuild the farm teams. There is major re-working to be done here. I am not optimistic for the coming season. Call it the BJ/Uggka hangover.

SaveAmericaFromItself
SaveAmericaFromItself

@TreeRollins 

In addition to re-tooling the starting lineup and getting bench help, who will starting pitchers be after Teheran and Wood ? Hale? Will free agents Harang & Santana return ? Can't count on Medlen and Beachy. I doubt if Medlen is offered a contract.


3rd or 4th place is my current 2015 prediction. This roster is a long way from being competitive.

58Supersports
58Supersports

@TreeRollins  no they have not... Fredi was a big, big  part of there fall from grace.. the man can't manage when game is on the line. Fredi  should be fired, fans deserve better. BC needs to go home.

HDB0329
HDB0329

What the Braves DON'T have:


1) Local ownership: Wen Ted Turner owned the team, he CARED about putting a competitive team on the field every year. In the beginning, the Braves wouldn't draw 5000 because of how bad they were, but Ted kept at it until he succeeded. When Turner got absorbed by Time-Warner, the Braves became another profit center....and when the corporate entity decided to downsize, the Braves were sold to Liberty Media...another corporate entity.....and they are only looking at the bottom line. That's why they are moving to Cobb rather than staying put in downtown...thereby alienating a good percent of their local fan base!!!


2) A decent farm system: Most of the players that the Braves developed during their glory years was developed in their farm system...and they worked to develop these players for the long haul......most of the talent in STL and SF were from their farm system....


3) Decent scouting for free agents and trades: Note the type of free agents that SF and STL have signed vs who the Braves have signed......back when Ted owned the team, the free agents and people we traded for actually worked to make the Braves better.....


4) Decent front office ......enough said.......


5) A good management team.....enough said.......

pigskinned
pigskinned

You should've offered an "all of the above" as a selection. The Bravos need a whole lot of almost everything. 

georgia87
georgia87

The postseason travel rules make baseball a different game in the playoffs than it is in the regular season. A team that is built to excel in a 162 game season playing 6 games per week can easily be defeated by a team with one or two hot pitchers that can pitch more often in 4 game per week series. TV ruined playoff baseball, IMHO.

FJ10
FJ10

Emotion doesn't win.  Emotion comes after a win.  Luck helps.  Plate discipline is the problem.  Working counts.  In the postseason you are probably going to get but one pitch an at bat to hit.  If you make him pitch more- work the count -  a mistake is more likely to happen.  When the Braves make pitchers work and get their pitch counts up it gets the elite guys out of there as well and you get to the bullpen.  

BobDawg
BobDawg

Cox and Scherholz can talk about the "Braves Way" all they want but they really need to read the Book on the "Cardinals Way" written by the former  Cards 3rd base coach they had many moons ago - George Kissel…. 

BobDawg
BobDawg

and quite trading away our #1 starters to the Cards also!   Geez.

ShootinTheHooch
ShootinTheHooch

@BobDawg Terry Pendleton should be well versed in the Cards way with a very good understanding of the Braves way. I would love to see him get a shot as manager.

MiltonAJC
MiltonAJC

No spark in any of the Braves recent teams...  the one year they won the whole thing, it took David Justice to rise above the status quo and do something to win the game.  Remember the emotion?  None of that around Atlanta these days...


GoBigOrGoHome
GoBigOrGoHome

@MiltonAJC


Yeah, his 1 hit 'fly ball home run' for the series made him a hero to many.  Those same many ignore the pitching which actually won the series.