It is a rebuilding year. We knew going into the season that Atlanta would take its lumps under new leadership and their sights fixated toward 2017, but did we really think it would get this bad? A once proud franchise that has recently been mired in mediocrity has officially hit rock bottom, losing 12 straight games and an unfathomable 19 out of 20 games. Atlanta holds just a one-game lead over Philadelphia for the worst record in the entire Major League.
It has gone from bad to worse. A pathetic effort on the field, now fans falling to their death in the stands. Just brutal.
The Braves are void of talent, but it is nearly impossible to play as bad as they have. Where is the heart? Where is the effort? Most importantly, where is the pride? This team does not compete at all. They take the field, take their whooping – and their pay check – and go home. Journeymen and young players liter the field, given a golden opportunity to seize the moment and jump start – or revitalize – their careers. Nah. Instead this group of taxi-squad players just disappoint aside from the few professionals that have busted their butts all season.
Nick Markakis has been zapped of all his power after offseason surgeries and rehab, but he has still managed to hit a team-high .295. A.J. Pierzynski has been a leader in the clubhouse and has hit .294, but hasn’t been dealt to a contender yet to help add to the farm system. The 38-year-old is on his last wheels and this will likely be the last productive season of his long career as he won’t be able to help the club much moving forward.
Cameron Maybin was off to his best season ever, but has tapered off. Freddie is still Freddie and Nick Swisher has played well and hopefully has gained some value on the trade market even with his inflated contract.
The rest of the offense hasn’t done much of anything. Atlanta has hit an MLB-low 83 homers, 18 less than the second-to-last place Marlins and also have the fewest runs scored. Only Freddie Freeman and Maybin have cracked double-digit long balls.
Jace Peterson ran into a hot streak and looked like the second baseman of the future, but after a .174 month of July and .238 August, he is hitting just .236 on the year.
Not Your 90’s Braves…
The pitching, like the hitting, has been just as bad. Atlanta’s 4.58 team ERA ranks 27th out of 30 teams. Shelby Miller is 5-13, but sports a 2.81 ERA and hasn’t won a game since May 17th when he almost threw a no-hitter and advanced to 5-1. Alex Wood was shipped away in a 13-man deal that netted Atlanta Hector Olivera, a 30-year-old Cuban rookie that hit .178 in the Braves farm system. Olivera has subsequently hit .133 so far with the big league club. Swing-and-a-miss.
Another big miss has been Julio Teheran. Former General Manger Frank Wren inked the 24-year-old to a long term deal. Teheran has been the gift that keeps giving as he has rewarded the since fired Wren and current GM John Hart with a 4.51 ERA.
The bullpen was steady early on, but Jason Grilli tore his achilles and Jim Johnson was sent away for prospects which was the correct move. Atlanta has run out slop that even I have never heard of, with ERAs so astronomical, you would think it is a misprint.
In Atlanta’s inspiring 15-1 loss to Washington last week in which they collected two hits, here are the ERAs of the Braves pitchers that appeared: 5.97, 6.05, 6.23, 7.00, 7.07, 6.00, 5.06 and 5.82.
Important rookie pitchers and hitters that were expected to help the team out in the long run have flamed out spectacularly so far. Top infield prospect Jose Peraza was given up on and shipped to Los Angeles. Matt Wisler was supposed to be the gem in the Craig Kimbrel trade, but has a 5.81 ERA in 15 games. Williams Perez? 5.65. Flamethrower Mike Foltynewicz? 5.71 ERA. Manny Banuelos’ stock is still down with a 5.13 ERA.
Patience is paramount with a rebuilding team, but it has gotten out of hand and new blood might be needed to lead the Braves next season.