Remember how bad the Braves were? They’re not so bad now

Atlanta Braves' Dansby Swanson (2) and Braves' Ender Inciarte celebrate after scoring on Freddie Freeman's fourth-inning two-run double in a baseball game against the New York Mets, Monday, Sept. 19, 2016, in New York. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

Both guys for Shelby Miller? Yes, please. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

Dansby Swanson has played 27 big-league games. Per Baseball-Reference, he has a WAR value of 0.6. Extrapolated over 162 games, that’s a WAR of 3.6, which wouldn’t quite be All-Star caliber but wouldn’t be far off. (I know, I know. Almost nobody plays all 162 games. Hear me out.)

Ender Inciarte has a WAR of 3.4, which is third among Atlanta Braves behind Freddie Freeman and Julio Teheran. That puts Inciarte in the “solid starter” classification of WAR, and there’s your Shelby Miller trade right there — a starting shortstop, a starting center fielder and Aaron Blair, who won his first MLB game last night.

Swanson is 23. Inciarte is 25. Blair is 24. I guess it’s possible to make a better trade, but realistically I don’t see how.

We knew when it happened this had the potential to be a coup of coups, but nobody had any idea Miller would have such a year. (He has returned to the majors after a demotion to Class AAA but has gotten no better. He has an ERA of 6.90 and a WAR of minus-1.3.) And nobody knew if Inciarte would ever hit here after a damp squib of a start, and nobody could say for sure that Swanson wouldn’t struggle on arrival. But here they are.

The Braves, who weren’t really trying to win, have won 59 games. The Arizona Diamondbacks, who fancied themselves a playoff contender, have won 63. Three of their past four Round 1 picks — Swanson, Blair and Touki Toussaint — now work for the Braves. Which organization would you rather be?

For all the hand-wringing done over the Braves’ shambolic start, this could wind up  as just a garden-variety bad season. (They’re on pace to finish 64-98.) As R.J. Anderson of CBS Sports notes, the team that didn’t hit a lick for nearly four months has amassed — pause for effect — the second-best WRC+ (weighted runs created adjusted for park and league averages) in the majors since the All-Star break.

We’ve asked where the Braves would find hitters. Well, they promoted Swanson and traded for Matt Kemp and resisted the urge to flip Inciarte and/or Nick Markakis at the deadline, and Monday night they hung five earned runs in 3 2/3 innings on the God of Thunder. (The Mets’ Noah Syndergaard is known as Thor.) That made three consecutive wins against playoff-level competition.

For most of the past two summers, it has been easy to file the Braves under the heading of “They Stink.” Because they did. But they had a plan, and they’ve stuck to the plan. And they’re not going to stink much longer. They’ve got a real chance to be halfway decent come Cobb County.

Further fun reading: The Braves’ rise from oblivion has begun.

Reader Comments 0

40 comments
Surelyyoujest
Surelyyoujest

They appear to be "not so bad" because the other MLB teams have been playing their Triple A players since their Sept. 1 call up for the past month, just as the Braves have been playing theirs in the majors for the whole year.

TOJacket
TOJacket

Hire Snikers and be done with it!!....its football season for god sake!

Peachs
Peachs

The best front office in Atlanta, year in year out. 

LOGS1973
LOGS1973

The Braves will win the pennant and World Series

next year, right Bradley? Yea, right..

Retired MC
Retired MC

First time poster: Before spring to do list. Trade for Top line starter 2nd) Sign catch from Wash 3rd) play one of the new kids at second and make room for Smith in the OF

patriotdog
patriotdog

Yes, they have gotten demonstrably better since the All Star break. The entire outfield, 1b, 3b, SS and 2b had all gotten off to abysmal starts. 2b and 3b were even sent down to Gwinnett.

They have all turned it around 180 degrees since the ASB and Kemp has given the team an extra threat of power. The lineup is no longer changed every day and guys have been able to stabilize their approach at the plate because of it, and it has carried over to the defense.

So WHY has Snitkers name been left out of every article discussing the future manager since these improvements have all come on his watch?

It has centered around Bud Black ( has he EVER had a winning season?) and lately, Walt Weiss.

Any ideas?

If Snit isn't here next year, he'll be somewhere else managing after the job he's done with virtually no rotation. That'd be hard to take.

chasjons
chasjons

Yep our bats are looking great and we are getting some strong quality starts here and there.  We probably will acquire some bullpen talent and a top of the rotation starter in the offseason.  You Debbie downers shut your trap.  You don't know what you are talking about. 

RoyalDawg
RoyalDawg

Glavine, Smoltz and Avery went from bad to good to great almost overnight. If our starters do the same, Cobb may be happy to have them.

jac200
jac200

And this is without a doubt the worst thing that can happen... Management, and announcers, will use this "resurgence" to gloss over what has been an incredibly dreadful year for this franchise... Coppy told us during the preseason, hart too, that 2015 was the worst, 2016 will be better, and 2017 will continue to get better... if this is what we have to look forward to, we don't have much to look forward to... but they will keep on telling us just wait and see... What a joke... Until they go out and get big name free agents who are coming into their Prime (not past it), they will always be second tier..

jac200
jac200

@kls82883 @jac200 we can differ here man. thats cool. i hope i am wrong and they contend for the pennant next year.

CoxAndBalls
CoxAndBalls

@jac200 This might be the dumbest comment I've ever seen on this web site... And that is saying A LOT...The last 2-3 months have been a ton of fun to watch... The Bats are more than hitting.. We look like a Mahor League lineup.. Now if the pitching pans out even just a little bit, we could be a pretty decent team next year, with a chance to really contend by 2018.. What a turn around.

STHornet1990
STHornet1990

@CoxAndBalls @jac200

They do stink and about to lose 100 or nearly that. That's nothing to be proud of or excited about.Winning a few now with no pressure and other teams seriously pressing or out of the race is no consolation. The bad owners will keep this team down for years to come.

khd713
khd713

@jac200 You're entitled to your opinion, but man o man, that's an ignorant one.

kls82883
kls82883

@jac200  What a completely ignorant statement. I hope you're just trolling and these aren't your original thoughts and opinions. Lol.

Curious_George
Curious_George

Remember when the 2016 Atlanta Braves had a LOCK on the #1 MLB Amateur Draft Pick for 2017?



They're not so locked into it now.



What a time to finally man up and start playing confident baseball!




"The Next Chipper Jones"    >    Hollow September Moral Victories





Congratulations, Minnesota Twins!




Larry
Larry

"I guess it’s possible to make a better trade, but realistically I don’t see how." See Teixeira, Mark

KentKimes
KentKimes

Guess we'll have to bring back that actual slogan from the '70s - "Braves Baseball, not too shabby."

TideDawg
TideDawg

New team, new players, change of managers. They're not so good, but they are better. They've got some pieces that will fit next year and it depends on what quality they get to fill in the gaps. They won't be great next year, either, but they will be good. What did you expect rebuilding the team from the ground up .......a world series team in one year?

DawgDadII
DawgDadII

Yes, there are some encouraging signs in the starting lineup, but there IS the old adage "never trust what you see in September". Winning games now is better than losing, but this season is still a blight in the record books.


Moving forward how competitive they are will depend primarily on the young pitching. We'll see how THEY look next Spring.

Jonathon Smith
Jonathon Smith

"2nd best weighted runs created since the All Star break." This started in July not September. Also I hope youre right in part about not trusting what I see in September because the starting pitching has possibly been the worst its been all year in September! And though the braves record is 9 & 8 in September & I believe there about to sweep the Mets I still don't think a 9 & 8 record is significant enough to say "don't believe what you see in September."

Ficklefan
Ficklefan

Of course they are doing well. It is September. They never play in September like they do in the lead up months. When they are winning and well on their way to the play offs, they can actually go into a swoon and blow a 12 game division lead (of course a manager standing around with his hands in his pockets and shrugging after every loss did have something to do with that). And now, after stinking it up all year, they are doing a September "Non-Swoon."  It will be many years, if ever, before we see another NLCS or a World Series in this town again. Getting there starts with the ownership and works it way through the entire organization. The ownership suits in Colorado are not that kind of ownership. They are about making tons of money off of this "piece" of their corporate empire, and they have and will do very well at that.  

Jonathon Smith
Jonathon Smith

"2nd best weighted runs created since the all star break." That would go back to July. And also the pitching may have been worse in September so far than at any time this year

CoxAndBalls
CoxAndBalls

@Ficklefan They've been playing well since July.. I realize like most "Braves Fans" you probably stopped paying attention in May... But for those of us who have watched this team all year long, it's been very fun, and very encouraging to watch. This has been a completely different team since Matt Kemp was added to the lineup. 

Stinger2
Stinger2

Mark: I agree with your optimistic outlook provided the starting rotation can be improved and a legitimate MLB catcher can be acquired by next spring.

NickNunziata
NickNunziata

@Stinger2  As long as it isn't Brian McCann, master of the late-innings passed ball.

CoxAndBalls
CoxAndBalls

@Stinger2 Exactly... If we can add maybe 2 innings eaters, who we can rely on, and upgrade at catcher.. Things could get REALLY interesting..


FineousMcDirtyBird
FineousMcDirtyBird

The long road towards "halfway decent." Forgive me, but were the Braves not half way decent BEFORE they blew the team up? 

CoxAndBalls
CoxAndBalls

@FineousMcDirtyBird No, we were a horrible team that swung for the fences, rarely succeeded, and mostly struck out... It was painful to watch.