From Last Night:
- Matt Joyce walks-off in an 8-7 win over the Orioles
- Joey Votto, not to be outdone, hits a walk-off single not ten minutes later in a 5-4 win over the Halos
- Ervin Santana allows 3 HR in his Royals debut, loses to the White Sox
- Matt Harvey tosses 7 1-hit innings and fans 10 Padres in an 8-4 win
- Halladay strikes out 9, walks 3, and allows 5 runs in 3 1/3 innings in a loss to the Braves
What I’m Watching Today:
- Cliff Lee and Kris Medlen face off in Atlanta in the only premier pitching matchup of the day (7p Eastern)
The Big Question:
- Which #3/4 starters will give their teams a boost in the first week?
The early season is a great time for hilarious quirks of small sample sizes. Those of you who follow me on Twitter know that yesterday I was abuzz about Yu Darvish’s -0.27 FIP. In other words, FIP thinks his strikeout rate, walk rate, homerun rate, and IFFB rate should yield outcomes that literally take runs away from the opposing team. That is quite impressive. Another sample size issue I’m tracking is which player is the first past 1.0 WAR. As I write this, Darvish’s 0.6 is the closest, but on average we wouldn’t expect to see it happen until we were about 10-20 games into the season. I think my money will be on Harper. Much of what happened last night can be encapsulated in the lines above, but yesterday was the first day in which all 30 teams were in action and the benefits of that were reaped by those of us watching around 10pm. I really missed watching MLB Network go back and forth as so many games went down to the wire. Man, baseball is great and I’m never sleeping again.
94-68, 2nd in the NL East, 1st Wild Card
Lost in the Play-In Game
The Braves had a great season after a disappointing end to 2011, and in any other season, would have made the playoffs. Unfortunately, the new rules sent them into a one game playoff against the Cardinals to earn a spot in the postseason. In this game, a very questionable infield fly was called, and their last shot at a rally was killed.
But losing a coin-flip game shouldn’t dampen the success of the 2012 Braves. The Braves outfield of Heyward (6.6), Bourn (6.4), and Prado (5.9) was all-world in WAR and played superb defense. Uggla (3.5), Jones (3.0), Simmons (2.2),Jones (3.0), and played superb defense. Prado at a rally was killed.
a spot in the postseason. In this game, a v McCann (2.0), and Freeman (2.0) showed what a complimentary starting lineup looks like. Every single Braves position player hit the 2.0 starter threshold, and some did so in less than a full season.
The pitching was strong too led by a bonkers-good Kris Medlen (3.9) in the second half. Hudson (2.6), Minor (1.4), and Hanson (1.0) made a full season of starts to varying success, but found good outings from the rest of the piecemeal rotation in Beachy (1.5), Maholm (1.0), and Delgado (1.0).
The bullpen was taking names in 2012 as well. Kimbrel’s 3.6 WAR was an incredible mark for a reliever and the rest of the group posted solid numbers.
In sum, this was a very good club. The offense was great and the starters were solid. The bullpen was lights out. The Braves ran into the poor fortune of having a good season in the first year of a silly new playoff format. They were six games better than the Cardinals during the season but were thrown into a coin flip game to generate fake drama and it cost them. Who knows what would have happened if they had earned a real playoff spot under the old system.
But 2012 was Chipper’s farewell season and most Braves fans will remember that as well. They’ve parted with Bourn and added BJ Upton, so the 2013 Braves should be equally as competitive.
2012 Grade: B
Early 2013 Projection: 91-71