If the Braves are ‘battling,’ what would their record be if they quit?

Philadelphia Phillies starting pitcher Adam Morgan (39) works against the Atlanta Braves in the first inning of a baseball game, Tuesday, May 10, 2016, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

Adam Morgan beat the Braves. Then again, who doesn’t? (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

As the Atlanta Braves sought to rally from a two-run deficit in the ninth inning Tuesday against the one team expected to be worse than them, Joe Simpson opined that the players were still fighting despite all that has happened. And the Braves did halve their deficit on Freddie Freeman’s homer and then put the tying run aboard. Alas, they lost 3-2 to Philadelphia.

The still-trying Braves are 1-16 in games at Turner Field. For the sake of argument, let’s assume they’d stopped trying. How much worse would their record be? How much worse could it be?

The Braves are on pace to finish 37-125. That would be five losses worse than the worst team ever. The 1962 Mets were an expansion club. These Braves are not. Even as we stipulate that these Braves aren’t brimming with talent, we ask: Did the ’62 Mets — a grab bag of guys near the end of careers and others who wouldn’t have much of a career — boast a Freeman, a Julio Teheran, an Arodys Vizcaino, a Nick Markakis, an Ender Inciarte? (OK, so Inciarte was hurt. But the Braves are 0-6 in games he has played.)

Eleven of the Braves’ 24 losses — almost half — have come by one or two runs. Fifteen — more than half — have come by three runs or fewer. (Save-situation games, in other words.) If we assume that they’re trying and have been all along, how do we explain these past four losses?

The Diamondbacks arrived last weekend at 12-18. They’d lost six in a row. Their second-best player (A.J. Pollock) is expected to miss the season after breaking his elbow in spring training. Their best player (Paul Goldschmidt) had seen his batting average dip to .232. Goldschmidt went 1-for-10 in the series, the hit being a single. He had no RBIs. He walked five times, struck out five times. His team swept the Braves. Shelby Miller, who hadn’t beaten anybody this season, beat his former team.

The Phillies came to town four games above .500. Their starting lineup Tuesday included Freddy Galvis, who was hitting .231; Ryan Howard, who’s 36 and who was hitting .185, and Carlos Ruiz, the 37-year-old catcher who has become a backup.

Like the Braves, the Phillies are in deep rebuilding mode. Unlike the Braves, they entered grudgingly. They broke down and traded Cole Hamels and Chase Utley only last summer. They fired general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. last fall. (He’s now coaching first base for the Red Sox.) Under new management, they made a major winter move in sending setup man Ken Giles to the Astros for five prospects, chief among them Mark Appel, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2013 draft, and Vince Velasquez.

Velasquez has been tremendous: He’s 4-1 with 44 strikeouts against 11 walks in 37 1/3 innings; his ERA is 2.17; his FIP (fielding independent pitching) is 2.75; his WHIP is 0.964. The Braves tried to pry him from Houston when they sent Evan Gattis there two offseasons ago. (They wound up with Mike Foltynewicz.)

If you’re asking if the Braves would love to have Velasquez, the answer is yes. If you’re asking how many other current Phillies they’d like to have, the answer is Makiel Franco, the 23-year-old third baseman. And that’s about it. Stem to stern, Philly’s roster appears no better than theirs. (And the Braves aren’t paying any single player $25 million this season, as the Phillies are Howard.) Indeed, Baseball Prospectus’ PECOTA projection had the Braves winning more games than the Phillies, if nobody else.

The Phillies are 19-14. They’re 1 1/2 games out of first place in a division that includes the Mets and the Nationals. They’re 11 games better than the Braves. Philadelphia has been outscored by 26 runs, which suggests this isn’t sustainable, but still: The Phillies are 12-3 in one-run games; their past seven victories have each been by one run.

(It should be noted that the Philies have a new-ish manager in Pete Mackanin, who took over last June after Ryne Sandberg quit. They’d been 26-48 (.351) under Sandberg. They were 37-51 (.420) under Mackanin. Same bad team, just with a somewhat better record. Sometimes a manager can make a difference, even with a substandard roster.)

The Phillies have maximized modest resources. What have the Braves done? Continued to “battle”? Isn’t that what they’re supposed to do, seeing as how playing baseball is their job? They’ve been outscored by 64 runs. They’ve played 21 percent of their home schedule and won once. If this is “battling,” let’s hope we don’t see surrender.

Oh, and the starting pitcher the Braves faced Tuesday wasn’t Velasquez. (He’s set to start Thursday.) It was Adam Morgan. He’s from Marietta. He graduated from Kell. He started the season in Triple-A. He’d compiled an ERA of 6.00 in two big-league starts after being promoted. He worked seven innings against the Braves, yielding four hits and one run. The run scored on a double-play grounder.

Nobody is saying the Braves are even a mediocre team, but there’s a difference between being bad and 7-24 (1-16 at home). We’re four games into the homestand where the schedule was supposed to ease. The Braves haven’t won yet.

Further glad tidings:

The Cubs won seven games last week. The Braves have won seven this season.

One thing the Braves do well — sell high.

Did the Braves sell high on Shelby Miller or what?

Credit the Braves for trying stuff. Lots of stuff, actually.

For the 4-17 Braves, there’s really no choice but to fire Fredi G.

Braves at 4-16: We’ve see it before (though not lately)

The Braves just played a riveting game. Didn’t win, but still …

The Braves can’t respond to losing by rushing their prospects.

10 not-so-fun facts about the not-so-hot Braves.

We ask again: What has happened to Julio Teheran?

A drop and a bullpen flop put a stop to the Braves’ winning streak.

Progress! The Braves are giving us moments.

Fredi G. and the four-out save: It’s getting weird, folks.

Fredi is managing as if he wants to be fired.

At 0-7, the Fredi Gonzalez Watch is officially on.

A word to Braves fans: Don’t get discouraged.

These Braves weren’t built to win. Good thing, seeing that they’re 0-5.

Trust the process? The Braves absolutely do.

Reader Comments 0

43 comments
Chet Morris
Chet Morris

We once had a team we could be proud of. Why do we need a new stadium? Is that going to magically make this team better?

Bill Clements
Bill Clements

General Manager created this mess ! No coach can win without major league players !

UWG_1996
UWG_1996

CBS Sports MLB Power Rankings


#30 Braves out of 30 MLB Teams


The following teams have won more games in Turner Field this season than the Braves: Nationals, Cardinals, Dodgers, Mets, Red Sox, Diamondbacks. The Phillies are tied with the Braves at one with games coming Wednesday and Thursday.


And its only May 11th.....#dogdays-of-May 

SouthernHope5
SouthernHope5

I think a few things are going on right now...yes, all parties concerned would rather win a game than lose one.


But i'm not so sure that those views are strongly held.  Liberty Media is making money no matter what. Plus, they'd like to show a big contrast when they move to Cobb County (to justify the move) so anything they were planning to do (flashy manager, good players, etc) will be held until then. With the exception of Freeman and maybe Markasis, most of the players are just happy to be on any MLB team (who else would take them),


Now if the team flops next year (after the first 2 or 3 weeks of sold-out games due to the newness) I believe they will panic and make moves.  Until then, meh. 

SeATLite
SeATLite

Mark, I've been reading you in the AJC my whole life (since I was in high school in the '80s, at least), and, while I love your evident passion for Atlanta teams, I've never understood how you can be so, so wrong so, so often.  I know you know that things like recency bias, unsustainable stats, and schedule strength exist -- you make reference to them in your columns.  But then you ignore what you just referred to.


As *you yourself say above*, the Phillies are currently surfing on a raft of unsustainble luck.  Not only has their schedule been easier than the gantlet the Braves got tossed into, but their scoring deficit and other benchmark numbers clearly indicates they've been incredibly lucky.  And that Braves number of 1-2 run losses you cited?  That indicates the Braves have had uncommonly bad luck.  You know those close games statistically tend to even out.  I *know* you know it.  And yet your frontal lobes keep refusing to talk to each other when you write.  It's the darndest thing.


Look, like I said, I've reading you and Hummer and Schultz for decades, and Dave O'Brien for years and years.  You're all decent, passionate people and reasonably good-to-great sports writers.  But you, Mark, have always stuck out as the guy who writes whatever impulse he's having that morning, without running it by the ol' logic center to see if it actually checks out.  Any sports fan can (and generally does) open his mouth and say stuff driven by emotion rather than reason, and I've always acknowledged that your tendency to do so endears you to this fan, at least, because I feel you.  But I also expect someone who gets paid to be a professional sportswriter to be less prone, ultimately, to just firing off the first, emotion-driven thing that pops into his head than I am.  I read you because I expect you to give me perspective I didn't have before.  I expect you, honestly, to analyze this stuff more effectively than I can.  Otherwise, what's the point of my reading you?  What's the point of your writing?


I dunno, man... I like you, I really do.  Always have.  But lately I'm starting to think that the line-up of late-middle-aged-sliding-toward-senior-status white dude faces on the AJC sports section front page, a roster that's been greeting visitors to that sports section since before the Internet even existed for most of us, is starting to show a degree of being out of touch with the 21st century world in a way that's seriously dragging down the value of the content you guys produce.  And no one's guiltier than you.  With compassion and respect, Mark, you're a lazy thinker.  You always have been.  And you're getting worse.  I'm not trying to troll or be mean; I'm trying to get through to you, to get you to hear something urgent and true: a column like this just isn't good enough to justify its own existence.  If you can't tell us something we wouldn't have thought of ourselves, if you can't even muster the energy to pay attention to your own arguments within the context of a single piece... maybe you've been doing this too long.  Maybe it's time to think about moving on.  You've earned that, and no one can say you haven't.  But come on, man.

DawgNole
DawgNole

@SeATLite: "I know you know that things like recency bias . . . ."

_____________________________

"Recency" bias???

Could you help us out with that one?

Oscs
Oscs

I stopped reading after the first sentence.

DawgNole
DawgNole

@nohorizon

Thanks.

I tend to believe in recency bias when it comes to ATL pro sports teams.

Polskidawg
Polskidawg

Fair or not, its time to retire Fredi and hire Eddie Perez. No, Eddie won't take this team to the playoffs or even out of last place in the East. But, a new voice may inspire better play (fielding and hitting in particular) and a better attitude going forward.


That would be helpful as the newbies continue to move up this and next year. 

DawgNole
DawgNole

@Polskidawg

Need "new voices" in the broadcast booth, too. 

Them lyin', excuse-makin' shills that occupy it now aren't helping matters at all.

dtanner311
dtanner311

i remember going to a braves game in june of 1988, about 3000 people there, walked up and got great seats though

Sodapop
Sodapop

"....on pace to finish 37-125....." Huh?

This Comment and Column coming from the same guy who said that "The Braves will finish 71-91" back on February 18th????

You've got your finger right on the pulse of this team and this city, Mark.  Good Job....

DawgNole
DawgNole

". . . Joe Simpson opined that the players were still fighting despite all that has happened."

_______________________

I'm not judging the players--I truly sympathize with them, stuck playing in Losersville--but Simpson's about the very last source you should go to for anything even faintly resembling an objective opinion.

Just another one of the Braves' smarmy,  fawning, ingratiating, rationalizing, finger-pointing, boot-licking, apple-polishing, sycophant, toady, in-denial "announcers."

Gag!

GaLatino
GaLatino

Is this your way of admitting that firing Fredi wouldn't JUST be a scapegoat move???  Listen, "Cop-Out" and "Hartless" are slimeballs who saddled him with a bad roster, and we are bad... but not 7-24 bad.


FIRE FREDI. HIRE EDDIE.

FIRE FREDI. HIRE EDDIE. 

FIRE FREDI. HIRE EDDIE.

mc1362002
mc1362002

Mark, this team is worse than the 1988 Braves.


Think of it.. Dale Murphy was on the downside of his career, but,  we had a young Tom Glavine, and a young John Smoltz,.   Pitchers who were only in their early 20s, who would go on to be Hall of Famers.   We had two managers that year.,   Chuck Tanner, and Russ Nixon.   We also had an attendance of only 800,000 for the year.   


I've been saying for a while,  that it's time to shake things up, and fire Fredi G.   Sometimes, a managerial change can cause even a short term improvement even for a horrible team.   Either that, or have management get some .,. courage, and say he's the manager for the rest of the year, even if the Braves lose 120 games.    


"Feeling good" about potential of young players, is very difficult when the team is this bad now. 


Maybe, it would be a good thing if we went on another long losing streak, of 10 games or more, and between that, and fan uproar, it would finally cause the clueless management to fire Fredi G

middlegrounder
middlegrounder

I think it's not only high time for fans to stop attending games (that time was actually weeks ago), it's time for sportswriters to just abandon writing anything about the Barfs. Just close your eyes and pretend they don't exist; this 6 month long train wreck is caustic to the human psyche.


Can MLB just step in and revoke the franchise? "Embarrassment" doesn't begin to cover it.

DawgNole
DawgNole

@middlegrounder: "I think it's not only high time for fans to stop attending games . . . ."

_____________________

Based on the appearance of the stadium last night, that's already happened.

ChessMaster
ChessMaster

Anybody who believed the preseason hype is kidding themselves. This team has so many holes it is amazing it is holding together. The plan last year was to showcase and trade veterans to rebuild the farm system. The placeholders at the major league level were hopefully going to complete the schedule while some of that wealth of minor league talent matures. 


That doesn't mean its time to bring up the 'kids' and let them take over. As an example, Albies needs to show he can play at AAA before they promote him. That may be later this year or it may be next year. There is no reason to rush them because this year is pretty much a foregone conclusion.


We don't have Bryce Harper the second sitting in our minor leagues. He is not only a great talent but he had the mental makeup to survive the struggles. 


Fredi and company are the 'leave behinds' that cover the retreat. Some will survive to fight next year and some won't. This is the price the Braves are paying for the Wren years.

CardiganBoy
CardiganBoy

@ChessMaster The plan was to cut payroll to make the Mother Ship's bottom line look better.  Especially with all the money being spent on Braves World in Cobb County.

Fine.   Nobody's forcing anyone to watch this miserable excuse for entertainment.  But lets call it what it is.  You're just mouthing Liberty Media talking points.  


The LM Braves have extended the middle finger to their fans and partners (680 The Fan for example, who's stuck with four more moths of putrid program content) during this era of misery.  A lot of their market is extending a similar sentiment in the LM Braves' direction.


Blaming Wren for all this is dishonest or delusional.

DrTruth
DrTruth

@CardiganBoy  I'm constantly amazed by all the blame thrown at Wren on these boards.  Wren has barely a fingerprint left on this team.  This is Hart & Coppy's team.  And of all the things Wren is blamed for, putting a minor league team like this one on a major league field is certainly not one of them....

Big Wally
Big Wally

This is all on the front office.  Schuerholtz played golf while Wren wrecked the team.

peedie7
peedie7

How bout them braves!!  Oh, that's an old slogan from another era.

Petrel
Petrel

The Phillies starting pitching is much further along than the braves. Nola and Eichoff are good young pitches and Hellickson is doing what Bud Norris was supposed to do for the braves. Their bullpen has been the major surprise

, much better than expected. The other difference is defense. They catch the ball; unlike Atlanta.

DOBrienAJC
DOBrienAJC

@MarkBradleyAJC re: question '62 Mets, had future HOF Richie Ashburn hitting 306 w/ .424 OBP, FThomas w/ 34 HR, .496 slug%, 4 others 11+ HR

MCFanSided
MCFanSided

@MarkBradleyAJC They are battling...battling to hit the ball, to catch the ball, to throw the ball. But at least they're not lollygaggers

DrTruth
DrTruth

Whenever John Coppolella is interviewed on TV, why does he always sound like he just starred in an episode of "Ow My Balls!"?

gorespapa
gorespapa

@Whitey_83 needs to be comng out sayng he grossly ovrrstimated what talent was going to do this yr.looks more and more like an idiot evryday

gorespapa
gorespapa

@Whitey_83 why don't ppl realize that is cohort Schuerholtz was here all of time while they were ruining farm system

Whitey_83
Whitey_83

@gorespapa didn't you watch how GMs of other rebuilding teams handled PR? Gotta placate fans. He's not an idiot. He knew they'd be bad.

DawgNole
DawgNole

@Whitey_83

After 50 damn years with only ONE championship to show for it, the word "rebuilding" should NOT be a part of the team's vocabulary!

gorespapa
gorespapa

@Whitey_83 I believe he thought they would be bad just not possibly historically bad

Whitey_83
Whitey_83

@gorespapa that's fair. But 50 wins, 45 wins, 40 wins ... makes me no never mind as long as there's a good plan for the future.

SamDoyle12
SamDoyle12

@MarkBradleyAJC bring up Albies, Swanson and others now. Give them a shot. Let them work together and get used to the big leagues.