Major League Baseball Team Analysis: Atlanta Braves, Part 2

By Peter Schiller

The Starting Rotation

The 2007 Braves rotation was not even close to what the fans in Atlanta have come to expect. Is this the affect of no longer having longtime pitching coach Leo Mazzone or do they just not have the talent that they once had and managed to always maintain? My vote lies in the camp of the latter option. They had four starters with a winning record, but two of those had only 1 win over .500 and that’s very unBrave-like!

Due to injuries, precaution and age, John Smoltz’s number were down in 2007, but if he can stay healthy in 2008, he still has the right stuff to be the Braves # 1 starter. He can still strike guys out while keeping his ERA down. You just don’t see much of that from a pitcher his age. See his numbers below for more detail.

Tim Hudson put forth good numbers in 2007 and had the most wins on the team, but that’s largely due to the nagging injuries to Smoltz. Look for more good things to come for Hudson in Atlanta. By the way, he had the best double play percentage out of any Braves starter with a minimum of 10 games at 20.1%.

The Braves third starter this year was Chuck James who barely sported a winning record at 11-10. The rest of his numbers can be found below. Not much more to report on here. He just doesn’t excite me.

Their fourth starter with a winning record was Buddy Carlyle, but he too was only one win above .500 at 8-7 in his 20 starts. See his line below. He excited me even less. I guess I have come to expect more out of the Braves starters that this.

NAME GS IP Start W L ERA BABIP SO WHIP SO9 DP% VORP 5x5 Totals
John Smoltz 32 205.7 14 8 3.11 0.312 197 1.18 8.62 6.8 56.7 210.49
Tim Hudson 34 224.3 16 10 3.33 0.299 132 1.22 5.3 20.1 59.7 147.75
Chuck James 30 161.3 11 10 4.24 0.28 116 1.38 6.47 8.8 28.7 127.82
Buddy Carlyle 20 104 8 7 5.21 0.307 74 1.39 6.22 16.9 2.4 83.80
Kyle Davies 17 86 4 8 5.76 0.3 59 1.58 6.17 10.4 -5.1 65.54
Lance Cormier 9 44.7 2 6 7.09 0.282 27 1.71 5.32 21.2 -8.2 33.00
Jo-Jo Reyes* 10 47.3 2 2 6.22 0.295 27 1.68 4.8 17.6 -5.8 32.10
Mark Redman 5 20.3 0 4 11.63 0.41 13 2.26 5.4 0 -15.1 22.09

The Bullpen

            This is where the Braves shined in 2007. Their bullpen was phenomenal! They had only 2 players, who had a minimum of 20innings pitched, with ERAs over 4. Oscar Villarreal had an ERA of 4.24 and Tyler Yates’ ERA was 5.18.

They got great performances out of their two rookies: Manny Acosta and Peter Moylan. Both had ERAs under 2.30 to go along with BABIP under .245 and a combined 13 Holds. They were also the best two pitchers in the Braves bullpen in double play percentage. What’s even more eye opening is that no one on the Braves staff pitched more innings than Moylan. Just check out their numbers below for more details about just how well they pitched in 2007!

Rafael Soriano led the Braves pen with 19 Holds in 72 innings to go along with his 9 saves (3 BS). Soriano had the most impressive BABIP numbers with a .198 and had the most strikeouts and the lowest WHIP out of the whole Braves bullpen. Soriano became the closer after Wickman was released (more on that next). Check out the complete line on Soriano below.

Then there was Bob Wickman, who was the Braves closer for much of the year. He was released on August 24, 2007. Up until that time, he ranked 22nd out of all major league closers with 20 saves (6 BS). His low production numbers as a closer were a big reason why the Braves were out of the playoff picture so soon down the stretch. Wickman’s 1.56 WHIP was part of his demise as Atlanta’s closer. You just can’t stay effective in that role with a WHIP that high. Eventually, it will come to haunt you and it led to Wickman’s release.

NAME IP Relief W L ERA BABIP SV Hold SO WHIP DP% VORP 5x5 Totals
Rafael Soriano 72 3 3 3 0.198 9 19 70 0.86 14.7 20.9 81.06
Tyler Yates 66 2 3 5.18 0.322 2 13 69 1.44 3.3 -1.1 74.82
Peter Moylan* 90 5 3 1.8 0.242 1 9 63 1.07 22.4 31.7 67.07
Oscar Villarreal 76.3 2 2 4.24 0.308 1 2 58 1.4 6.9 9.6 61.84
Bob Wickman 43.7 3 3 3.92 0.312 20 0 35 1.56 3.2 6.5 58.68
Ron Mahay 28 1 0 2.25 0.243 0 7 23 1.25 13.6 10.2 22.7
Manny Acosta* 23.7 1 1 2.28 0.2 0 4 22 1.14 25 9.5 21.62
Chad Paronto 40.3 3 1 3.57 0.333 1 2 14 1.64 20.4 6.3 18.41

Honorable Mentions

                In the rotation: Atlanta hopes that rookie Jo-Jo Reyes will improve to become the team’s 5th starter in 2008, but he had a 2007 that was, at best, a learning experience. In the bullpen: Ron Mahay and Chad Paronto. Although with a WHIP as high as Paronto’s was in 2007, I am not confident that the rest of his numbers will look as good in 2008 unless his WHIP comes down under 1.30. Paronto had the highest WHIP in the pen at 1.64

Where They Need Help

                A centerfielder, another starting pitcher or two and a legitimate closer!

·                     They have recently addresses part of this need by re-signing free agent and 300 game winner Tom Glavine away from the rival NY Mets. Glavine will now end his Hall of Fame career where it all began! Unfortunately, he is not the pitcher that he was when last he pitched in a Braves uniform. For example, his ERA is about a whole earned run more than it was back then. That being said, he will definitely help, but they are still one more quality starter away in my opinion.

·                     They will also need to improve in CF seeing that Andruw Jones is a Scott Boras client and a free agent. He will not likely be back in Atlanta unless he does what Kenny Rogers or A-Rod did with Boras and either go around his agent’s back to work out a deal to stay in Atlanta or he just fires Boras and represent himself like he has done in the past.

·                     As far as a closer goes, their options are either Free Agents Troy Percival, who is rumored to be close to signing with the Rays, Keith Foulke who is coming out of retirement (and would be a major risk) or Eric Gagne (to name a few). Otherwise, they need to go the way of a trade. Maybe for the Marlin’s Kevin Gregg, the Pirate’s Solomon Torres, or someone of that quality or better.

*again denotes that this player was a rookie in 2007

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