Or maybe they are. Or maybe they’re just about as good as last year? What people forget is that the Braves went 101-59 last year… Rob does mention the improvements of Furcal and Giles, but fails to point out that Giles actually getting to play is an improvement.
And, of course, it’s the Braves offense that’s carrying the load. They’re third in the NL in runs, and if you adjust for the parks probably second to St. Louis (since the Rockies are first). It’s an unusual offense in that it’s a batting average/power based scheme. They’re second (to the Cards again) in average and (to the Reds) in homers. They’re second (still to the Cards) in OPS and slugging, fourth in OBP, but twelfth in walks. On the other hand, they’re not striking out. Only the Cards (again!) and Astros have struck out less.
Do you know what this reminds me of? Last year’s Angels. It took awhile for anyone to believe in them, too. The Braves are putting the ball in play and getting good offense without walks. I’ll probably get kicked out of the sabermetrics club for this, but it’s a lot more fun than watching the damned Yankees draw millions of walks and hit three run homers.
I don’t see why they can’t keep it up. Yes, batting averages are somewhat unstable. But since they’re not striking out and they are hitting the ball hard, and if they can keep htat up, they’ll be in good shape to keep the average up, which will offset the low walk totals. And this is a good “on paper” offense. All three outfielders are former All-Star caliber hitters (and all were hurt some last year), Giles is a player who’s always hit, and Fick/Franco is more than solid as a platoon. If Vinny and Javy don’t suck the offense down and Furcal keeps — if drawing walks like 2000 is too much to ask — hitting the ball hard and hustling, they’ll keep scoring runs. Enough to hold off the Phillies? We’ll see.