In 71 games of the 2nd half, the Braves went 43-28 and continued their dominant run that started in June and ran strong through mid-September to secure back-to-back NL East titles. It takes a team to win the division, but some were able to carry more cargo on the home stretch. From everyday players to bench players to players off the scrap heap, 2nd half heroes made a beautiful baseball bouquet that will hopefully stay lovely and fresh throughout the postseason.
Challenge: In the comments, the first 2 to guess why each player was connected to each flower, wins a Braves Journal t-shirt. Some are fairly obvious and others require a tiny bit of research. Big shoutout to Sam Walter (Twitter handle @thesamjwalters) for help with the photoshop. Sam is a sophomore at UGA majoring in Journalism and is dipping his toes into sports media relations.
The Cattleya, Ozzie Albies
Okâ€¦so maybe Ozzie, whoâ€™s built like a poop brickhouse, doesnâ€™t need to rest. Like a fine Barefoot Wine, Ozzie aged to perfection in 2019 getting better as the season progressed:
- July: .862 OPS
- August: .890 OPS
- September .949 OPS
His hot start actually started in early June. After bottoming out on June 5th at a .722 OPS, Ozzie was remarkable for nearly 4 months with 33 doubles, 6 triples, 17 home runs, 9 stolen bases (to only 2 caught stealing), and a .932 OPS in 435 PAs.
The Rain Lily, Josh Donaldson
Before enduring a 6 for 30 slump to end the season, Donaldson, along with Albies, carried the offense for the 2nd half. From July 12th-September 13th, Donaldson put up a 1.031 OPS and was a walk and dinger machine, smacking 19 dingers and taking 47 free passes. Even factoring in the season ending slump, Donaldsonâ€™s 2nd half OPS was .104 points higher than his first half OPS (.958 vs .854). The Bringer of Rain has won our hearts as fans and hopefully Anthopoulos will make it rain dollar bills to keep JD around.
The Passion Flower, Ronald Acuna Jr.
Giving the title â€œ2nd Half Starâ€ to Acuna is a bit unfair as he was also a 1st half star. With less OBP, but more SLG, Acuna out OPSâ€™d himself in the 2nd half by .002 points. However the power increase doesnâ€™t tell it all as Acuna also stole 24 of 30 tried bases in the 2nd half, cementing himself atop the NL lead. Considering Acunaâ€™s age, it likely wonâ€™t be the last time he flirts with a 40/40 season.
The Begonia, Ender Inciarte
Because itâ€™s been so long since heâ€™s been in a lineup, we seem to forget that Ender absolutely annihilated baseballs when he returned from the IL. Only 90 plate appearances, but it was enough to convince this Ender naysayer that he deserved to stay as he produced a .931 OPS, with 6 doubles, 1 triple, and 3 HRs, to go along with a 100% success rate in 4 stolen base attempts. Too bad he got hurtâ€¦the Braves could really use 2nd half Ender on the roster.
The Goldenrod, Adam Duvall
I bet if you quizzed most Braves fans on who finished 3rd in OPS (behind Donaldson and Acuna,) in the 2nd half among players with at least 100 PAs, theyâ€™d say Freddie Freeman or Ozzie Albies. Theyâ€™d be wrong. Adam Duvall might be the least boasted on Braves player but he truly deserves our praise as he became what Austin Riley was after Austin Riley was no longer capable of being Austin Riley. Duvall, who didnâ€™t get a callup until the 2nd half, demolished LHPs this year with a terrifying 1.130 OPS. While he has the reputation as a lefty masher, he also held his own against RHP as well (.761 OPS). Anthopoulos was able to manipulate Duvallâ€™s service time to gain an added year of control, so if the Braves want to keep Duvall around, they can do so for 3 more cost-controlled years.
The Mariposa, Adeiny Hechavarria
It was a small-sample, but a small-sample worth remembering as Hechavarria bashed baseballs one after another in a Braves uniform. In 70 PAs, Hech walked (6), hit doubles (5), a triple, and smacked home runs (4). With that production thatâ€™s so out of the norm from everything heâ€™s done for his career, one has to wonder if Seitzer tapped into something thatâ€™s always been there but a swing tweak was needed. Itâ€™s doubtful, but for Hechâ€™s and the Braves sake, we can hope.
The White Poppy, Francisco Cervelli
Like Hech, Cervelliâ€™s time was limited as a Brave. Also like Hech, he was having a bloody awful season until he donned the tomahawk. Add Seitzerâ€™s Stick Sprinkle Dust BAM! A born again hitter. Cervelli made the best of his 37 PAs with 5 doubles, 1 triple, 2 home runs, and 4 walks. That adds up to a 1.031 OPS and that added up to getting his wish granted: a chance to play in the postseason.
The Johnny Jumpups, Billy Hamilton
I like OPS. I also realize when OPS can be a limited statistic. Take Billy Hamilton, for example. His OPS in a Braves uniform was a mere .692. Why? Because he can hit about as hard as my Aunt Melba, whoâ€™s 4â€™10 and 72 years old. However, what he can do well, much better than my Aunt Melba, he did with the Braves: he used his legs and got on base. A lot. Someone with his speed, getting on base is the skill of skills and Billy boasted a .375 OBP. The last time Billy carried an OBP like that in the Majors was never, so letâ€™s not be begging for Billy to PH in the playoffs. Rather, letâ€™s let Billy do what he does best and that is to let others get on base for him then he take extra bases in their stead.
I hope these beautiful flowers continue to flourish to bring us fans the most breathtaking bouquet of all…a World Series.
Thanks for reading.
I thought blazon’s obscure British poetry references were hard enough, but now you go to flowers? Huhh?
Ah Alex, would a rose by any other name entertain so sweetly? Thanks for the bouquet.
Evidently, botanicals are the new infusion of choice.
Thanks, coop, but this had nothing to do with me! I’m thinking that Josh Donaldson’s Spartacus-quoting Twitter handle is why you gave him The Rain Lily.
Correct. You’re 1 for 1, Mr. Remington. The rest?
On the HBP (and perhaps tangentially on the Culberson play):
I actually think MLB needs to look at a rule change. A pitcher shouldn’t be rewarded for pitching up and in and the ball happening to hit the bat. I understand being upset as a Brewers fan, but that 3-2 pitch (which could seriously injure someone), should not turn into a foul ball. If it only hits the bat and not the person, you don’t have to rule it a HBP, but at least a ball.
I had the same thought after Charlie’s HBP. The rule needs to change. I recognize that it will take some judgement, but there is too little time to react when squared around to bunt. Any actual attempt to bunt on a fastball headed towards your face would just be a survival instinct to try and keep the ball from hitting you.
I’m not sure the wording or where you would have to draw the line, but it’s a real problem.
Rafael Ortega made the postseason roster and Julio Teheran did not. Wow.
Josh Tomlin will be the long man in the bullpen
Gutsy decision by Snit. Tough for Julio.
There was a clerical error in the original piece as Duvall actually finished 3rd in OPS among 2nd half qualifiers min. 100 PAs. Freddie finished 4th and Ozzie 5th.
Those dang clerics…
The sports media — not known for their restraint or introspection — keep using the word “historic” to talk about the Nationals’ win.
Ender is a begonia because “he be gone” for the playoffs?
My personal assistant, my 4 year old, is just learning how to read splits on B-ref.
@7 & 8 I am a happy Braves fan!
The thought of bad Julio giving up 5ER in 2 innings of work had been looming rather large.
Is Adam Duvall a goldenrod because, like a weed, he won’t go away? Haha!
Cool piece, and puzzle though, Ryan.
Well, c’mon, that was the easy one. Why does Remington get it?
Wait a sec! The winner of the contest has to get all 8 correct, not just 1. No one has even attempted all 8.
I’m just being petty about him getting credit for the one.
I’ll go back to not knowing anything about flowers.
I guess they prefer to have insurance with Ortega in case Acuna can’t bounce back from the groin issue. Not really surprising, and Teheran should’ve known it was bound to happen after those last few shaky starts.
#2 gives this postseason the potential to be one of the most exciting. They have the potential to not only, ya know, play well, but also make for some moments that you’ll load up on YouTube 20 years from now to watch. I’ll be watching Acuna’s grand slam for years, and I’d love to be watching some late-inning heroics from this postseason.
And #3 is a no-brainer, but it does highlight that their offense is fairly one-dimensional. Keep Edman, and especially Goldschmidt, away from run-scoring situations, and their offense will struggle to put up enough runs.
My position hasn’t changed; their starting pitching is going to have to put in 3-4 long, dominant outings. The only problem is that they’re very capable of doing that. But in my mind, we’re avoiding Flaherty by winning it in 4, so I can’t even really consider Flaherty being a factor twice.
Hindsight (and Scherzer’s recent performance) suggested that Strasburg should have started last night’s game, but I love going from Scherzer to Strasburg in a do-or-die game. Teheran is a fantastic 162-game member of a 25-man roster, but the playoffs are about having buttons to press, and putting Teheran in anything where his one-game performance matters is just not smart.
You have to set your roster based on scenarios, and there’s just no scenario where Teheran’s skills (being a reliable option to eat innings and give you mostly-reliable performance over a 162-game season) comes in handy. Tomlin over Teheran means that they see a scenario where Tomlin going a couple innings is more valuable than having a potentially unreliable starting pitcher.
Ozzie – maybe a mistake? This is the national flower of Venezuela, but Ozzie’s from Curacao, right?
Acuna – shows a lot of passion when he plays?
Donaldson – bringer of rain nickname
Ender – blooms intermittently? That’s all I’ve got.
Hechevaria – national flower of Cuba
Duvall – state flower of Kentucky
Cervelli – implicated in Biogenesis scandal and some varieties of poppies used to make pharmaceuticals?
Hamilton – gets a good jump when stealing bases?
Should the Braves beat the Cardinals, they can reset their roster for the NLCS, right? Perhaps in a seven-game series, Julio will make the cut.
Yeah, they can do a new roster for each series. They can even do a different one for the Wild Card game, I believe.
Where is the roster published?
@25: Can that be right? Why wouldn’t you replace a bunch of pitchers in the Wild Card Game, then? No way you’d use more than 6, which would give you 19 position players. There was no way Corbin was going to get used last night, for example.
Surprised they decided to carry Ortega over an extra pitcher.
They also left Blevins off the roster. I think both O’Day and Luke are both on it but I can’t find confirmation.
You got 4 right, which puts you in lead as number 2 has gotten 1.
And Ozzie wasn’t a mistake.
A whole post about flowers with nary a mention of Tyler?
No Blevins, so it’s easy to pick the rest.
23. Luke J
@32 MLBTR has Swarzak over O’Day which I find both astonishing and unbelievable. Surely they wouldn’t do that, would they?
That would be absurd.
Oops! Good job, Ryan. Sorry, AAR. Mr. C wears today’s corsage.
I guess Ender is auctioning for Hee Haw. Gloom, despair, and agony on me.
Blevins, Riley, Wright, and Wilson were shipped to Florida to work out in North Port. lmao.
I’m not real worked up about the 23rd through 25th spots on the roster, which are pretty much Swarzak/O’Day, Tomlin, and Ortega. Ortega allows you to pinch-run with Hamilton and pinch-hit with Joyce, and the spot would otherwise be filled with Culberson. I like that they’re making the back-end of the roster about scenarios. Cervelli means you can PH the catcher, Tomlin means you don’t Teheran, etc.
I do wish we had another lefty, so you’re pretty much taking one of Swarzak/O’Day or Jackson over a guy who can get lefty hitters out. With that said, St. Louis’ lineup is really RH-heavy. Carpenter and Wong are the only two real LHH threats.
I still can’t get over the fact that Charlie Morton is good now. I remember thinking he was terrible when he was with the Braves.
It’s been fun to cheer for Morton now that he plays for the local team considering the way we all felt about him, definitely. I saw two of his starts in person this year, and he’s definitely a reminder to not give up on pitching prospects unless you have to.
They’re doing something right in Houston. They’re literally turning nothings into stars or revamping careers of yesterday’s aces. It’s quite remarkable.
Charlie had to work tonight. He may have had a short night, but he hung tough.
Acuna: Plays with passion
Donaldson: Bringer of Rain nickname
Ender: Begonias are native to Venezuela, and there’s a hybrid named “Incerta.” (Admittedly reaching on the name)
Hechavarria: national flower of Cuba
Duvall: state flower of Kentucky
Cervelli: Papi is Italian for “pope.” Nickname around here is Pope Francisco, and Cervelli’s father is Italian.
Hamilton: The only thing I can come up with is the alternate name is Viola tricolor, and Hamilton has played for three major league teams: Reds, Royals, Braves
Ender’s partially right, so I’ll give it to you so you got 6 of 8! You’re in the lead.
Logistical question: for those of us going to Braves playoff games who were unable to buy parking passes through the Braves’ site, any tips on finding convenient and/or reasonably priced parking?
Looking at the Braves’ parking page, I see the following interesting tidbit:
Fans interested in visiting The Battery Atlanta prior to the game can park in the Battery Red Deck on a first come, first served basis for free for up to four hours (before 2 p.m.) and up to two hours (after 2 p.m.). Visitors who park longer than two hours will be charged up to $50, but can receive validation by spending a minimum of $50 among tenants at The Battery Atlanta.
If I’m already looking at spending $20, $30, maybe $40 on parking, the concept of spending $50 on food/drinks at The Battery for free parking sounds pretty good.
New game day hype thread.