What’s a (reasonably) good finish for the Braves?

Milwaukee Brewers’ Carlos Gomez celebrates his three-run home run during the eighth inning of a baseball game against the Atlanta Braves Wednesday, July 8, 2015, in Milwaukee. (AP Photo/Morry Gash)

Milwaukee Brewers' Carlos Gomez celebrates his three-run home run during the eighth inning of a baseball game against the Atlanta Braves Wednesday, July 8, 2015, in Milwaukee. (AP Photo/Morry Gash)

Luis Avilan after yielding Carlos Gomez’s game-winner Wednesday. (AP Photo/Morry Gash)

We’ve been kicking around this question since the Atlanta Braves traded Jason Heyward last fall, and we’re still kicking. So, boats against this current, are the Braves themselves, who would have risen above .500 for the first time since June 1 had they held a four-run lead in Milwaukee on Wednesday.

This was a team that some — I was among that number — believed could lose 100 games. They’re on pace to finish 80-82, which would actually be an upgrade from last season’s 79-83. That’s if they don’t slump before the trading deadline and start dumping players like Cameron Maybin, of whom we were speaking just the other day.

FanGraphs sees them at 77-85, which would leave them 12 games behind the Nationals and three behind the Mets. (At the moment, the Braves trail the former by 4 1/2 and the latter by 1 1/2.) Baseball Prospectus sees them losing 44 of their final 77 games, which would mean 75-87.

FanGraphs assesses the Braves’ playoff chances at 3.1 percent, down from 3.8 yesterday. (Put another way, 3.1 percent is a lesser chance than FanGraphs’ numbers assign any of the 15 American League teams.)

In today’s AJC, I note that these Braves, after 85 games, are as exactly as far behind the Nats as the ’91 Braves were behind the Dodgers in the worst-to-first year. I also concede that I don’t see what happened then happening now. But honesty compels me to note that I didn’t see these Braves being within a game of .500 after more than a half a season.

Enough buildup. To the question: What’s a reasonable finish for these Braves? Here’s a poll. Vote your conscience.

Reader Comments 0

59 comments
Zapp
Zapp

You're approaching it all wrong.  Instead of asking all the knuckleheads, why don't you ask the Braves players, because you'll get as many answers as there are players.  They play as individuals, not a team, and as always lacking leadership will give that to you.  Every great leader of every kind of business garners respect from his employees and a bit of fear, because one doesn't work without the other.  The Braves teams have never had this kind of leadership except the year they won the world series.  I can't tell hold how tired I was hearing this is Smoltz's team, Chipper Jones' team, but it was never Bobby Cox's team, nor is it this manager's team.

BLowE12
BLowE12

I NEVER thought this team would lose 100 games. Even with all of the low Battings Average home run Boppers gone the truth was that the Braves still had a decent team. However they are not Championship material, YET.(being the keyword)


My prediction at seasons onset was 75-77 wins, which would put them Just under or over .500 roughly. As of right now I am STILL very much on course!

ImaNitwit
ImaNitwit

Interesting that when the Braves lose, the manager is a dope and nitwit, like me. Braves win 6 of 7, and no mention of the manager.

forexbomb
forexbomb

If the pitching holds, then a trip to the playoffs should be the least we expect.. The players definitely think they need to make the playoffs.

GWJ0525
GWJ0525

This year has exceeded my expectations, but even with that I don't see them making the playoff's. They would have to get on a pretty good run, but they keep giving away at least one game a week so unless that stops it will be very hard for them to get over .500.

davesbrain
davesbrain

with the parity in post season baseball, make the playoffs and come out as world series champions.

Mutley
Mutley

No playoffs this year but moving in a positive direction. Don't have playoff caliber talent yet and bullpen needs MAJOR improvement.

Kevin Sheets
Kevin Sheets

Lets be honest this month will decide whether or not they finish above .500 or not. If they decide to add a bat and bullpen arm, they could fight for the wild card. Otherwise, I see them fighting for .500. 

Archangel
Archangel

@Kevin Sheets It's a little premature to judge this team while their no.1 hitter is on the DL. They've already added some bullpen help (Vizcaino and either Williams Perez or Manny B will be in the bullpen). I definitely see a wild card battle coming.

Kevin Sheets
Kevin Sheets

@Archangel, I agree. Which is why I said that this month will decide their chances. Freeman being healthy and productive will in all likelihood help the team decide to be buyers and help acquire some bullpen help and perhaps another bat.

extremus
extremus

Just read an NBC article that speculates the Padres may already be considering trading Justin Upton and Craig Kimbrel.  Wouldn't it be awesome if somehow the Braves could bring Kimbrel back that soon (even though Grilli's numbers have been better overall this season, Kimbrel is getting into his usual groove and has given up like 1 run since May 25th)?  Of course I'm sure such a trade would incur LOTS of cost from both a prospects as well as likely a salary standpoint and I just don't know if Hart would be interested at this stage.  At any rate, having Kimbrel as the closer for the post-rebuild and move to Cobb would be a PR coup to say the least.

neutral site
neutral site

BTW, I'm not in the "fire Fredi" camp. He uses the tools the GM gives him.


If I have a fault with Fredi it's that at times he seems a little out of it in close games...yesterday with Avilan would be an example.

RadioPat
RadioPat

@neutral site How? Somebody please tell me what he was supposed to do. The only reliable arms we have are Johnson and Grilli. Johnson could not pitch yesterday and Grilli was there for the 9th if needed. 

RadioPat
RadioPat

@ScubaSteve Carpenter is you answer? Why would you have any confidence in him?

RadioPat
RadioPat

@ScubaSteve You realize that he has only has pitched in 3 games since 2013 a total of 3 and two thirds innings. His lifetime MLB ERA is 5.19 in 31 total games. This is your best option??? Meanwhile this year right handers are hitting only .170 versus Avilan. Did he give up a blast Yes. It happens but Carpenter (not this one) is not a better option otherwise he would have pitched in the Majors for more than 3 games the last 3 years!

candlin14
candlin14

@neutral site


If you are not on the fired freddi bandwagon you do not know baseball my friend! He is one of the worst managers in baseball...

reckingball
reckingball

@RadioPat @neutral site Why couldn't Johnson pitch, he had the day off before that game, Grilli had pitched three days in a row. Johnson was going to pitch the 9th, if Avilan had not blown the game.

RadioPat
RadioPat

@candlin14 @neutral site I like how everyone just says that with nothing to back it up. Again the Braves has not finished below second in the division and he is almost 70 games over .500 with the team. Braves did collapse last season down the stretch but still fell in line where most analyst predicted. You don't know baseball and will be sad and confused when he gets an extension in the off season.

neutral site
neutral site

Team is still very short on the arms needed to nail down wins.


Post-break, especially Sept, has been rough on the Braves in recent years. With so many young starting pitchers in the system, this might actually improve this season.

DawginLex
DawginLex

I said at the start if Braves win 75 games, FG is Manager of the Year.

I'll stick with that

I have been pleasantly surprised with this year's team though

HUDDYS1FAN
HUDDYS1FAN

Add a healthy Fredi Freeman and another big bat in LF, then these guys can make a run at the playoffs. Anything else is just tilting at wind mills.

Vindicator
Vindicator

What, with all the work that the Braves did to win the game, Avilan serves up a 3 run homer to lose the game.  Get rid of this bum.  He has been around too long and deserves to be traded or sent down.

FarTrain
FarTrain

Right on target for mediocrity or average, which is what would make FG as happy as a "bird in paradise".  That is his idea of a successful season. Or if they manage to play one wildcard playoff game, he will be ecstatic. Sad thing is that a lot of the fans are right there with him.  Spending that hard-earned money to watch a AAA team.

jmart1951
jmart1951

I didn't just count but one thing that favors the Braves is that they play something like 16 of their last 23 games at home. The Cardinals will have wrapped up their division by the last series of the year and will probably be resting their starters somewhat during that series  -  another positive for the Braves winning additional games. I believe that the Braves will finish just above .500 but not get a wild card.

This assumes that they do not make any major moves before July. If they do make some major trades their record will depend on what was received for the major league team and what was sent away from the major league team.

reckingball
reckingball

This year's team has been pretty good, for what it is. They have not had the dodo beat out of them very many times, and they have been within one play or one hit of winning, in a whole lot of the games that they lost.

Savdon
Savdon

Last 6 games of the season will be telling.  3 with the gnats and 3 with the Card's.  All at home. 

RadioPat
RadioPat

Time for everyone to insert their Fredi is the worst manger in baseball comments. "We would be a playoff team with a different manger" or "we have won despite him". Lets face the facts, Fredi is not that bad of a manger. He was handed  flawed teams in the last few season and still made the playoffs. His winning percentage is above .500% as a Braves manager and he has had to manger more this season than any season in the past. If he were let go today there would be a number of teams happy to take him. See how much Miami has improved since he left? Me either. BTW the Braves have not finished below second place while he has been manager.

RadioPat
RadioPat

@SkokieDog could not agree less. A manager can only do so much. We finished second to the Nationals last season with a team (that Wren constructed) that was certainly flawed. Do you believe that Atlanta was a better team that Washington last season? Otherwise we finished where expected. Notice this year he is doing more with less. Less paid player and less talent. John Hart has not told him which guys to play and not play like the Wren administration.

SkokieDog
SkokieDog

@RadioPat Fredi is not a very good manager, as most who have watched his teams play through the past two seasons realize. With this year's group, how much harm can he do?

RadioPat
RadioPat

@reckingball So what would you have done? Pitched Johnson again. He already had pitched two days in a row. What about firing up a the Grill an inning early. Thats right he only goes one inning at his age. Sometime Major League pitchers just have to do what they are paid  so well to do....Get people out. It did not happen. Had that game been in Atlanta it would be an out and the Braves likely would have went on for the win. You can blame every bullpen meltdown on the manger. They players have to play. 


BTW Fredi is 400-333 with the Braves that is 67 games over .500 as a manager. Again the Braves have not finished below second with him as a manager. By this account 80% of managers in baseball would be out of a job.


@reckingball Let me ask you to name the last year the Braves won the division?

58Supersports
58Supersports

@RadioPat @SkokieDog  79-83  last year with better talent? Give me a break....Fredi lost the team last year in Sept a complete flop.. 18 games out.. Should have been fired with Wren except for Cox he would have... next year maybe Hart will hire his on hand picked manager.

reckingball
reckingball

@RadioPat

Gonzalez is about a .500 manager, not the worst, and not the best. I think that he has done a fair to good job this season, I suppose.

Every manager makes mistakes. He has made three that have probably cost the Braves getting 3 wins(or were contributing factors in the loses)this year, that I can think of at the moment. All involved his use of the bullpen.

The 8th inning in the third game against the Brewers  yesterday, was one of those games. Actually he made two mistakes in yesterday's 8th. But that is just my opinion.

reckingball
reckingball

@RadioPat @reckingball Grilli had pitched three days in a row before this game, Johnson had the day off prior to this game, so that is what the facts are, and if you were keeping up with what is going on, you would probably have known that Fredi was going to use Johnson in the 9th and that is why he didn't come in to start the 8th inning. 

What would I have done,......after watching Avilan blow so many games, I would not have put him in, at all, but if I had of put him in, I would have lifted him after the first bloop hit, and if I didn't lift him after the first bloop hit, I would have surely lifted him after the second bloop hit,......before I would have let him go up against Gomez, who was licking his chops to bat against Avilan.

Who would I have put in to start the 8th inning,.....anyone except Avilan, who would I have put into replace Avilan in the 8th inning,  anyone else in the bullpen.

Avilan has been overused and the team has paid for it in the Win Column, he is a one out guy, as in, you bring him in to get one out, if he is lucky enough to get that one out, you might take a chance for him to get one more, if the situation is right.

reckingball
reckingball

@RadioPat @reckingball

The last year that the Braves won there division, the Braves had an excellent chance to have the best record in the NL and homefield advantage throughout the playoffs, but Gonzalez's use of his pitchers in the last couple of weeks, cost the Braves that advantage. They could have played the first series against the Nats, who they had dominated that year, instead of having to travel to the West Coast and play the Dodgers.

RadioPat
RadioPat

@reckingball They could not have played the first series against the Nats that year. The rule then was that you could not play your division opponent in the 1st round. It just recently got changed to where you can now play them after the two wildcard teams face on another. The first full round. As far as the bullpen goes when can all agree it is a train wreck right now but last time I checked the manager does not make the roster the GM does. Everyone knew coming into this season this would not be one of their strengths.

reckingball
reckingball

@RadioPat @reckingball That rule was not in place at that time, The Braves would have played the Nats,  check it out. Also, the bullpen has been performing fairly well the last couple of weeks. Gonzalez had better options that Avilan,, that last game in Milwaukee.

reckingball
reckingball

@RadioPat The rule prohibiting two teams in the same div. from playing each other in the 1st round of the MLB playoffs was changed in 2012.

khd713
khd713

I'll admit they've exceeded my expectations to this point, and somehow they've won three series in a row (and should have had two sweeps) with Freeman out of the lineup. I'm not sure how they are doing it, but the starting pitching has been very good, and they continue to eke out just enough runs. What's weird is that the starting pitching hasn't been dominant at all, but somehow they manage to not give up a bunch of runs. That's a credit to the defense. When they had their losing streak a couple of weeks ago it was all because the defense suddenly went in the tank. I think that's the key – get decent starting pitching and play really tight defense, and the opponent isn't going to score many runs. If they can keep that up for the rest of the season they can finish .500 or better. If they find a middle reliever or two, they can do even better than that. The problem is that the baseball season is so friggin' long that in August and September teams start to break down. That's an unknown, so we'll just have to wait and see how the marathon season impacts this team. 

ToddBearden
ToddBearden

@khd713 You are right!  Finally, someone commenting that actually knows a little bit about baseball.  I told everyone there was no way this team got that much worse and no way in hell they were losing 100 games.  It's been like 30 years since they lost that many and our young guys are good players.  I didn't mind losing either Upton, not sure why everybody freaked out.  I mean, look at the Padres record.  They're already talking about trading Justin and Craig.  


Anyway, we've got a shot (long long shot) at making a wild card if we get another reliever or two...like a Kenley Jansen or someone on that level...a solid, extremely low era guy.  That's the only shot at the playoffs.  


Also, I love what Uribe has been doing and Ciriaco and Maybin and these guys.  Young pitching has been great too, Wisler, Perez, Folty, etc.  


It's hard to predict anything at the start of a season (look at the Astros) because there are so many variables.  Guys get hurt, guys slump, other guys get hot, rookies step up, etc. etc..  

JackClemens
JackClemens

Pretty close to .500 on either side.

BravesFan79
BravesFan79

The Best option is to tank the rest of the season and try to fall into a top 10 draft pick! Otherwise we risk being like the Mavericks currently are.. A .500 team with little hope for a championship because we have little top talent. Yes I realize that we have some good prospects currently...but I fail to see how being .500 this year benefits the team 2years from now.

RadioPat
RadioPat

@BravesFan79 You realize the kid you draft is still going to be 3-6 years away from making the Big Leagues correct? This is not basketball or football. The kids normally touch every level of the Minor League and often the 13th round pick ends up making it before the 1st or 2nd round guy. 

khd713
khd713

@BravesFan79 This team isn't winning the World Series, but they're not going to tank either. Maybe if the ownership and management were actively trying to get them to finish last, a la "Major League", it will inspire the players and they'll end up winning the World Series just like in the movie. That's a realistic scenario, right?