Braves 10, Marlins 6

The Braves are 67-51. On this day in 1991, in their miracle season, they were 61-52. So we’re starting to keep the drama out of this season. We might just be a good squad.

We’re 10-3 against the Marlins. We’re 12-6 against the Mets. 6-5 against the Phils. 9-7 against the Nats. A big reason why we are where we are is that we’ve taken care of business against the division. Fingers crossed.

Last night, Anibal Sanchez didn’t have his best stuff. In 5 innings, he gave up 5 runs, 4 earned, though the error that led to the unearned run was his own. You shouldn’t hit people in the back, Anibal. And then Biddle got hit pretty hard in the 6th, though he recovered to pitch a scoreless 7th. Jonny Venters and AJ Minter both contributed scoreless innings, but it was what happened on the other side of the ball that’s important.

Listen, what else can you say about Ronald Acuna that hasn’t already been said? He can do everything. He’s got an exceptional eye, huge power, huge speed, a strong arm, and it’s becoming clear he’s your centerfielder of the future. Well, add lead-off hitter extraordinaire to the list. He’s ambushed 3 pitches into lead-off home runs these last 3 games, and then for good measure, he put the game out of hand by sitting back on a change-up and beating it into the right-field bleachers for a 3-run bomb. But like I said, what can you say?

He wasn’t the only one. Every starter had a hit. 4 home runs out of the first 3 spots in the lineup. Charlie Culberson and his .835 OPS had a classic, wall-scraping left-center field home run that he’s so known for. The first 5 spots in the lineup have at least .800 OPSes and 115 wRC+. If you plugged Charlie into the Keystone, you’d have 6. Flowers is above league average when it comes to creating runs.

Kevin Gausman goes tonight. And for the game thread, Smitty’s going to be bringing you the Tennessee football season preview.

59 thoughts on “Braves 10, Marlins 6”

  1. If you guys are expecting a “September swoon” then that is a sad place to exist as a fan. I’m inclined to expect this team to get hotter than shit in the July sun, in time to become a playoff juggernaut.

    If it don’t happen, so be it. I won’t sit around worrying about swoons when this team is “doing it again” like they did to start the year. Remember… July is an outlier at this point and not the other way around.

  2. I think there’s guarded optimism about how good this team can be, and I think it’s more of just a morbid joking to manage expectations. We’ve had June swoons and September collapses this decade, and I think we’re all on bated breath to see if we actually finish this dang thing.

  3. The fact that the Phills have 19 of their remaining 42 against the Nats, Mets and Blue Jays kind of takes the shine off of the past week or so.

    That being said, this is a fun team and an easy one to like. I’m all in knowing that the eventual end may well break my heart. Again.

  4. @1 @2 and prior thread. I was always surprised by the September swoons of the teams from prior to the rebuild (one reason to really dislike Freddi Gonzalez). My brain was wired that the Braves went on unbelievable hot streaks to win the division every year late – starting in 1991. I think that’s where we are with this team. And with all the potential reinforcements available on Sept 1st, there’s no reason to fear the schedule gods. If we focus on the schedule remaining in August, it’s not really that bad (save the COL series). If we sweep today, we still have another 4 game series with the Marlins this month. All our youngsters are getting their second wind and the bullpen has already been solidified at the deadline. The sky is the limit now.

  5. Oh I get having guarded optimism. Because of Jason Heyward, I remain very guarded on buying into the hype of young sluggers like Albies and Acuna.

  6. The additions of Brach and Venters have been huge. Hard to be unimpressed with AA’s deadline moves. Looking forward to Gausman tonight. As for Duvall, I too am not going to give up on him but it does make you wonder how much of an improvement he will be over Preston Tucker.

  7. Duvall is a RH Preston Tucker. Given Ender’s splits and the general lack of RH power in the lineup, it’s a good flip.

  8. Re: Acuna… yeah, he’s good, isn’t he? Now that it’s clear he can basically do everything on the baseball field (and makes it all look pretty easy) I’m doing my best to not hold him to impossible standards of excellence as happened with Andruw Jones back in the day.

    It’s my fervent hope that RAJ and Ozzie can use their experience gained this year to pick up more skill at drawing walks / increasing OBP in the coming years. Having both of those guys at the top of the lineup (preferably Ozzie then Ronald then Freddie) will give the Braves a great offensive base, kind of like the Phils back in their Rollins/Utley/Howard days.

  9. I’m doing my best to not hold him to impossible standards of excellence as happened with Andruw Jones back in the day.

    Yeah. I’m totally not thinking of him as a young Rickey Henderson at all.

  10. The link at @10 rules.

    The thing that gives me confidence about Acuna’s swing, relative to Heyward’s swing, is Heyward’s swing was always long and complicated and he was always streaky as a result. He made up for it with an exceptional batting eye — his rookie walk rate was 14.6%, which is still eye-popping — and I’m still convinced he got his head deeplybadly messed up by coaching advice that tried to get him to hit for more power, which ultimately resulted in him selling out everything and losing most of what worked about his approach. BUTYEAHSOANYWAY.

    What DeRosa points out about Acuna’s approach is how preternaturally balanced he is. He’s square to the ball the whole way through. So no matter where the ball is, he can get right on it. For me, the best illustration of that is watching him hit moonshots to dead center and the opposite field. That’s partly strength and partly exceptional body control.

    Says to me this kid’s gonna be an okay ballplayer.

    And here’s somewhere you can go stuff the ballots:

  11. There are actually probably more parallels to Dansby and Heyward than anybody else, to be honest.

  12. Is George Springer too high of expectations for Acuna? Springer hit .283/.367/.522, 34 HR in 140 games, a decent centerfield, and a small handful of stolen bases. That was a 4.6 fWAR in said 140 games. But that made him the 23rd-most valuable hitter according to fWAR last year.

    I know one wants to avoid heaping too many expectations on him a la the way it seems it happened with Heyward and Andruw, but did anybody expect any more than a 5 fWAR season at his peak for Heyward? Well he almost did that 3 times in 5 seasons. But he took a fastball to the jaw in a season where he was on pace for about a 5.5 fWAR season, and he had one really bad season of those 5. If people expected more than a 5 fWAR season – usually good for top-30 among position players every year — then shame on them.

  13. Parallels I speak of:

    -Elite defender but not meeting lofty expectations on offense
    -Came up with lots of hype but in some fans minds, never reached it or predict never will
    -Constant discussions about swing mechanics. Gosh, I’m sick already of hearing about Dansby’s mechanics. It’s Heyward 2.0.
    -Total offensive contribution not clearly perceived. You’re right, Adam, that Heyward was much better at this beginning of his career, and especially offensively, but like Heyward and his lack of home runs at times, Dansby gets sold a little short on his offensive contribution by over-emphasizing his batting average issues.

  14. For clarity, though, they’re definitely in different leagues of performance, but based on expectations, there are parallels.

  15. Yeah. I agree that Dansby/Heyward comparisons are inevitable, but it just serves to insult Heyward all over again. Dansby hasn’t shown himself to be in his league.

  16. Completely agree. If Dansby ever produces a 4.7 fWAR season — Heyward’s rookie year — we should jump for joy.

  17. Dansby only had 719 minor league PAs before getting promoted to the big leagues. He was badly rushed, and his swing problems should have been addressed when he was still in A ball.

  18. @19 and everyone else…. Fred Owens at TT suggests that Dansby’s been playing with a hidden injury since a HBP on his hand and that is the reason for his precipitous drop off in hitting. And conversely why he hits so well in the clutch (i.e. he has another gear to overcome the discomfort). Anyone buying that?

    Dansby is a near .400 hitter in the clutch. I’m not as concerned if he GOs or Ks when no one is on base than if he can keep a rally going or drive in runs when the opportunity presents.

  19. It’s possible he just sees the ball better when the pitcher comes from the stretch.

  20. I see no reason to be timid with RAJ projections for next year. Life as we know it is chasing us down so for pete’s sake let’s throw off any pretense of modesty.

    First above all…65 home runs. If there is a line in Vegas between now and next ST at that number with a semblance of realistic odds accompany me there and let’s each place a thousand dollars on that number. Injury alone is the risk. Orgiastic pleasure in the watching the additional prize.

    That leaves two other metrics to speculate on each directly related to home runs.The more home runs the more walks. The more walks, he must make them pay with the more steals.

    Having thought about that for a good five minutes i am going to make a minor adjustment to the HR total but add two other components to screw the bookies further:

    60 Home Runs
    70 Walks
    70 Steals.

    Anyone in Vegas will give you 1000/1 on that package next March 1. By the ASB they will have fled the country.

  21. @28

    blazon, I think you’re underselling the HR total badly. I mean RAJ will lead off between 140-160 times next year. That’s what, at least 100 lead off homers?

  22. Sam Hutcheson says:
    March 15, 2018 at 8:28 am

    Braves Record: 87-75
    Braves Team Leaders in:

    Home Runs: Freeman 35
    RBI: Freeman 95
    OPS: Acuna .950
    Runs: Albies 123

  23. @5

    Does it? Cuz I don’t see that it does.

    I kinda feel like this is the next branch that the “Yeah, we’re playing well right now, but there’s no way we can keep it up…FanGraphs projections say so!” people have grabbed onto.

  24. @29…Painter

    Your facetiousness takes not your hard earned dollars into account, mine does. So please let’s hear your amended version for all three, for fun.

  25. @3 Enough. At the time, no trades had been made. While I certainly deserve crow served cold for supposing that no or minimal trades would be made at the time, the Braves DID look dead in the water. That they have gotten up off the deck is a huge credit to the organization and the addition of Brach and its looking like Gausman are huge.

    Your cartoonish capitalization isn’t proving anything.

  26. I really like the 60/70/70 treble. You can imagine this scenario from the opposition:

    By the end of April he will have around 15 homers. Opposing managers by then will have said we must walk him. They walk him and within a month they find there’s a better than 50% chance he’s on second. His run total, which we have not discussed, skyrockets in that instance because he literally never strikes out/flies out/grounds out.So they are forced back to Plan A, pitch to him. And so on.

    He/We have revolutionized the game. But it all starts/depends on the homers and flows from them.
    As more and more go back to plan A his HR total climbs, 75 possible.

  27. HR: 100 lead-off, 38 after first inning, 1 more in the first after the Braves bat around, so 139.

    SB: 20, since he’ll hit all those homers he won’t be on first enough to run much.

    BB: 4 unintentional, 120 intentional.

  28. I m relatively certain that no game leadoff batter in the history of baseball has been issued an intentional pass. If it ever happens it will the most abject capitulation possible.

  29. #37

    Abject capitulation Jonathan, exactly. That’s what we’re after, right?

    And if we surprise ourselves with a dash of mercy, start him fourth.

  30. I’d like to see Acuna bunt the first pitch he sees in the strike zone tonight. Figure he’d have at least an 80% chance of reaching base.

    FYI, Fangraphs still has Washington with a better chance of winning the WS than either Atlanta or Philadelphia. A much lower chance of making it to the postseason, but a much better chance of winning it all if they get there. As best I can tell, the system is still assuming its preseason projections are accurate & that for future games, Washington will be a .580-level team & the Braves will be below .500.

  31. @39

    Start him fourth and watch his RBIs rocket up.

    150 if he stays there. 1 a game, sheesh, you doubt it?

  32. @40

    That’s because the have two elite starters (though one is hurt)
    If they make the postseason, they would be a team no one wants to play.

    Well, except for the Braves. I would love to play the Natspos

  33. @40 Yep… Fangraphs still doesn’t really believe in the Braves, but even their somewhat-skeptical projections now have us holding onto the NL East crown with 88 wins (implying a rest-of-season record of 21-23), just ahead of the Phillies’ 87 wins.

    By contrast, has the Braves winning 90 games. That sounds more like it!

    @43 The rest of season and playoff projections are calculated based on team-wide WAR, not top-of-rotation matchups or anything like that. Fangraphs simply thinks that Washington *should* be the 2nd best team in the NL behind the Dodgers, which *should* be the best team in the NL.*

    * Actual results vary substantially from statistical models. ERROR ERROR ERROR!

  34. Should Acuna continue to bat leadoff? I would think so–don’t mess with something that works if players appear comfortable. I wonder if Markakis, Acuna, Freeman, Albies isn’t slightly superior for the first four.

    Go Acuna! Let’s set the all-time record for most consecutive games with a HR by someone batting leadoff. It is interesting that all occurrences of 5 such consecutive games have been since 2015–perhaps more acceptance by managers of leaving sluggers at leadoff.

  35. If the Braves were to play the Gnats in the playoffs, they’d be in the NLCS by definition, yeah?

  36. I think the WC game winner now plays the divisional champion with the best record, regardless of division. So the Braves could play the Gnats in either the Division Series round or the Wild Card game, or the NLCS. Or not at all since we are talking about the Gnats!

  37. @46

    This is incorrect, there are no restrictions anymore after they added the second wild card.

    I don’t think Acuna should see many more fastballs in the strike zone.

  38. In other news, Chris Archer just finished another mediocre/bad start for the Pirates – 5 IP, 6H, 4 ER, 0 BB, 7 K (96 pitches).

    In his 3 starts with the Buccos, Archer has the following totals: 14 1/3 IP, 18 H (2 HR), 9 ER, 6 BB, 16 K. Small sample size, obviously, but the Pittsburgh pitching coaches do not seem to have discovered the secret to helping Archer avoid hard contact.

  39. Passan:

    “Nats may need to play around .700 ball to even have a chance.”

  40. If the Braves and Phillies go .500 the rest of the way, we finish with

    Braves 89 – 73
    Phillies 87 – 75

    The Nats need to finish 30-12 (0.714) to win the division under that assumption.

  41. @49

    Sims and Wisler both have been impressive in limited use, for the Reds’ AAA team. Surprising they haven’t be called up. Tucker has not been impressive, but is their fourth outfielder. My guess is that at least one of the two pitchers will become a solid major leaguer.

  42. If the Marlins (now 48-74) play .400 ball the rest of the season, they would finish 64-98. The Gnats would have to play 3-39 (or worse) to finish in 5th (give or take the Mets). Just trying to project some bad results onto Washington.

  43. BTW:

    They’re well-rounded players and much more than sluggers, with Albies worth 3.5 Wins Above Replacement and Acuna worth 2.8 so far this year. Only three teams in baseball history have had two players 21 or younger compile 2.5 WAR in the same season: the 1959 Giants (Orlando Cepeda, Willie McCovey), the ’39 Red Sox (Bobby Doerr, Ted Williams) and the 1893 Baltimore Orioles (Joe Kelley, John McGraw). All six of those players are enshrined in the Hall of Fame, incidentally.

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