The Braves are a .500 team! (If you don’t count the first half)

Atlanta Braves' Dansby Swanson, right, poses with 9 year old fan Caleb Zurawick of Chattanooga, Tenn., before a baseball game against the Philadelphia Phillies, Wednesday, Sept. 28, 2016, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/John Amis)

Everybody loves these guys! (AP Photo/John Amis)

The Atlanta Braves were 31-58 at the All-Star break. They’re 34-34 since. In sports, nothing is unbelievable — but this is, kind of.

We worried in April they might lose 120 games. They cannot lose even 100. (They also cannot secure the No. 1 pick in next year’s draft, and they’ve fallen below Tampa Bay for No. 2. And Arizona is sinking fast. Wouldn’t it be a hoot if the Braves, who were no better than the second-worst team in baseball through mid-August, would wind up picking fourth?)

(Actually, I’m not sure “hoot” would be the word John Coppolella would choose.)

Know who feels semi-clever about this? Yours truly. I picked the Braves to go 71-91. Figuratively speaking, I wadded up that prediction and tossed it toward yonder trashcan 10 days into the season. Well, they’re 65-92. If they win their final four games — they probably won’t, seeing that Detroit arrives Friday and is still chasing a wild card — they’d be 69-92. I’d have missed by 1 1/2 games. I’d take that.

Another true confession: In our emailed Q&A with Coppolella over the All-Star break, he suggested the Braves might still better last season’s 67-95. I read that and thought, “No chance.” But looky here: If the split these four, they’ll be 67-94. That’d be better!

Of all the dizzying numbers regarding this surge, here (again) are the ones that utterly stump the band: The Braves were last in batting average and runs at the break; they’re first in BA and fifth in runs since. If they’d pitched just a bit better the second half, they might have wound up 75-87, which would make them the all-time champion in a category that doesn’t exist: Best-ever record by a tanking team.

One thing more: Many of you see this turnaround as the reason Brian Snitker should/must be named permanent — well, permanent for a while — manager. I’m not sure about that. I have a longtime distrust of interim results. But I give the man credit: With this team, he has done a splendid job.

Further reading: A September to remember for, yes, the Braves.

Reader Comments 0

26 comments
Zapp
Zapp

People always get snippy when a team loses, but the Braves are building their team like they did in the 90s.  What they don't have are two good veteran pitchers to lead the staff.  That happened when they got Smoltz and Maddox to go with Glavine.  It was only then they became a bonified contender for over a decade.  I like the manager, and he should get a two or three year contract.  He has slowly molded this team into one no one wishes to play.

ErnestB
ErnestB

@Zapp


In fairness, the Braves got Smoltz in the late 80's in a trade with Detroit for Doyle Alexander.  They did have Charlie Liebrant, who helped the staff immensely in the early 90's, before they acquired Maddox.

DawgDadII
DawgDadII

It took the 2016 Braves about two weeks to establish their competitive irrelevance. That they have decided to actually field major leaguers who can play the game at a .500 level in the second half is a credit to what, exactly? Self preservation?

LOGS1973
LOGS1973

Great Bradley.. If Aunt Myrtle had a mustache, she

would be Uncle Fred!!!

TideDawg
TideDawg

If I owned a successful bar I wouldn't tell anybody that I  ran out of the good stuff and I'm going to use cheap liquor until I can get things going again. I'd tell my clientele that the bar is in a transition phase and the new flavors are going to be exciting. Sounds familiar doesn't it?

DrTruth
DrTruth


Hart: Braves walking ‘parallel path’ that’s not full rebuild

3:53 p.m Monday, Feb. 23, 2015 LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla.

"Braves president of baseball operations John Hart has heard plenty of criticism and skepticism from outside observers of the team’s offseason moves, as well as team officials’ refusal to call it a full-on rebuilding project.  But Hart and his staff don’t view it as a strip-it-down rebuild, and they insist the Braves aren’t sacrificing a season or two despite many of the offseason moves being aimed more toward building for the long-term rather than immediate future."


We can now safely conclude that after 2 consecutive 90-plus loss seasons that 2 seasons have indeed been sacrificed....

ErnestB
ErnestB

It's really tough to determine the holes the team has for next year.  At this time, I would say the priorities are:


-1 to 2 starting pitchers

-Catcher

-Second base


If we could foresee the same production from the catcher tandem of Flowers/Recker, I could keep that in place while the catchers in the minors continue to develop.  Having good receivers who can manage the staff is more important that offensive production (though they should be able to contribute).


Would be nice to get a power hitting second baseman.  The one we got from the Rangers probably won't be ready until 2018 at the earliest.  I'm also good  with Garcia until we determine if our minor league third baseman can contribute.

brushback69
brushback69

Where have you been Bradley?


They're actually playing much BETTER than a .500 team and I doubt many teams in the playoffs would want to face the Braves right now, if the Braves were in the playoffs.


Having said that, their season closes after 4 more games and then comes a long reset before next season. What happens during that reset could be critical in terms of next years performance and team chemistry.  Snitker seems to have carved out a different culture that isn't that stoic business like approach that appears apathetic at times.


Refreshing...


LOGS1973
LOGS1973

@brushback69 Braves are the best last place team in all of baseball! A parade perhaps?

Mutley
Mutley

Snitker, Snitker, Snitker. Damn fine job.

FineousMcDirtyBird
FineousMcDirtyBird

And you know what this winning stretch will mean a week from now? Nothing. Oh, I guess we've got a good idea what this team is capable of when there is no pressure to win. That's helpful.


Mark, you predicted they would be a losing team and out of the playoffs. When would a medal ceremony work best for you? An unfrozen caveman could have looked at this roster and said the same damn thing.


Best record by a tanking team? A perfectly stupid line you can wrap your arms around for warmth when the Braves are watching the playoffs from home next October. And the one after that. And so on.


Enjoy what you paid for, Cobb! The quintessential "moral victory" team. Because when they can't do anything well, they'll throw a parade because they did just a little bit better than expected.

DrTruth
DrTruth

@brushback69  Awww....Are your wittle feewings hurt because the closest your Turner Field Heroes can get to the playoffs is the role of Spoiler?  Cry it out.  Maybe you'll feel better.

brushback69
brushback69

@DrTruth @brushback69 

apparently your feeling are the one's hurt Debbie Downer, or is it Negative Nancy...


Have to be unhappy to be happy there bro?


DrTruth
DrTruth

@brushback69  On the contrary, I'm the happiest dude you'll ever meet!  But you won't see me celebrate failure by saying something like, "I doubt many teams in the playoffs would want to face the Braves right now..."

Wow.  You have to be seriously disillusioned to believe that the Rangers, Red Sox, Indians, Cubs, Nationals and Dodgers are just so happy they aren't having to play the BRAVES in the playoffs!  Really?  Then again, you're also saying a team that will finish the season with somewhere between 92 & 96 losses is "refreshing".....lol

brushback69
brushback69

@DrTruth @brushback69 

Loser outlook but enjoy your life.

This team has been on fire the last 2 months, pity you can't join in, but hey, that's you....

DrTruth
DrTruth

@brushback69  Sorry, but that "you're not a real Braves fan" BS doesn't work on me.  I've got ticket stubs from every decade since they got here in '66.  I'll be happy to compare them with your collection at any time.


And it's my kids who no longer want anything to do with the Atlanta Braves since the Johns took over.  They can recognize a 90-plus loss failure of a product on the field without any help from me.  So if you're calling my kids losers, then thanks for that.  Stay classy.

RonMexico
RonMexico

@DrTruth @brushback69 So what's your proposal? How would you go about returning a team to competitiveness without an unlimited budget? The Braves are set up for huge long-term success with the talent they have in the farm system. 

And stop playing the victim and twisting brushback69's words. Nobody called your kids a loser. But you sure do whine a lot.

DrTruth
DrTruth

So the Braves lose when it's important to win and then win when it's more important to be losing.  Perfect for the Bizarro World MLB franchise!  But in order to receive contract extensions and promotions in Bizarro World, failure is required and Snitker has shown signs of success.  His next stop:  AAA Gwinnett.

And only in Bizarro World could a 94-loss team be viewed as "better" than a 95-loss team since relative garbage is more highly valued than absolute garbage.  Thank goodness football is here.