When last the Atlanta Braves were 4-16 — the year was 1988 — these were the pitchers who’d beaten them: Mike Bielecki, Greg Maddux, Alejandro Pena, Tim Leary, Fernando Valuenzuela, Orel Hershiser, Nolan Ryan, Jim Deshaies, Hershiser again, Tim Belcher, Mike Scott, Bob Knepper, Danny Jackson, Dwight Gooden, David Cone and Don Carman.
It’s an impressive list. Five had won or would win Cy Young awards. (The top three vote-getters for the National League’s 1988 Cy Young would be Hershiser, Jackson and Cone.) Two would make the Hall of Fame. Three would become Braves.
When last the Atlanta Braves were 4-16, they opened their season 0-10. The first pitcher they beat was Don Sutton. No idea what he’s doing these days.
I present this not entirely pertinent information because … what else is there to say about these Braves? They’re on pace to win 32.4 games. Being kind, let’s round it up to 33. That would be a full-season record of 33-129, which would be the worst in modern baseball annals — and by “modern” we mean post-1900 — BY NINE FLIPPING LOSSES. They’re on pace to hit 24.3 home runs, and even that numbing stat is flattering.
Freddie Freeman hit a homer off Max Scherzer in the first inning on Opening Day. Adonis Garcia hit a home run, also off Scherzer, in the fourth inning that day. The Braves have since played 179 innings; they’ve hit one home run. (Drew Stubbs off Adam Wainwright, fourth inning, April 10.)
The Braves are last in the majors in homers and runs and OPS, second-to-last in batting average, fourth-to-last in on-base percentage, fifth-to-last in ERA. If there’s any consolation to be taken from this latest 4-16, it’s that they’ve occasionally come close. They’re 1-5 in one-run games, 1-3 in extra innings. The 1988 Braves came close less often: They were 1-3 in one-run games — Tom Glavine lost 1-0 to Scott in the Astrodome — and 0-1 in extra innings. So there’s that. Hooray for that.
On a more somber note, the 1988 Braves hit more home runs on Opening Day — four, the clouters having been Ozzie Virgil, Ken Oberkfell, Gerald Perry and Andres Thomas — than their 2016 brethren have in 20 games. There’s that, too.
Further grim reading: