We wondered how bad it would get, and now we know. After winning in Milwaukee on July 7, the Atlanta Braves were 42-42, four games behind Washington and 1 1/2 games back of the Mets in the National League East. At that moment, only 15 among the 30 MLB teams had better records than the Braves. Those were the days, my friends.
Since July 7, the Braves have been the worst team in baseball, and it’s not really close. The Braves are 12-34; the Reds, who are second-worst, are 15-32, which is 2 1/2 games better. The Marlins, who open an avert-your-eyes series at Turner Field tonight, are 17-30.
The Reds and Marlins likewise gave up on their seasons, trading (respectively) Johnny Cueto and Mat Latos. The Phillies, who never had a season in the first place, gave up by shedding Cole Hamels and Jonathan Papelbon. But the Phillies have actually gone 23-22 since July 7, which is — pause for sobering effect — 11 1/2 games better than the Braves.
The Braves have won one of their past 13 games. They were 0-7 on their last road swing. They’re 1-5 on this homestand. They scored 11 runs over the weekend against the Yankees, which marked their biggest output in any three-game series since they mustered 13 against San Francisco on Aug. 2-4. That relative surge enabled the Braves to be outscored 38-11 by the Bronx Bombers.
Since the All-Star break, the Braves have scored a major-league-low 128 runs. The Angels rank 29th in post-break scoring — with 147 runs. Since the break, the Braves have an ERA of 5.28. Only the Rockies, who play at altitude, have been worse (at 5.76). Can’t hit and can’t pitch. It’s not a beautiful thing.
We shouldn’t be surprised, given that the Braves as an organization entered the season only half-trying and gave up altogether by trading Kelly Johnson, Juan Uribe, Alex Wood, Jim Johnson, Luis Avilan and Jose Peraza in July. That was, and presumably remains, the team’s charted course: Worry not about today, setting the corporate gaze on tomorrow.
The Braves are on pace to finish 67-95, which would be their worst finish since the 65-97 of 1990. A year later, everything changed. The 1991 team went worst-to-first, and it didn’t stop there. The Braves would finish first over every completed season for 15 years. Maybe this crash is the precursor to something similarly glorious. (Maybe, I said.)
About all that’s left to say about the 2015 Braves is that Hector Olivera cannot get here soon enough. And he’d better be good. Because almost nobody else is.