10 For 10’s: The 2010 Atlanta Braves Season

2010 Atlanta Braves

Welcome to Brave Journal’s 10 for 10’s, where for each season of the past decade we relive the thrill of victory:

And the agony of defeat:

Today’s episode: the 2010 Atlanta Braves Season

The decade of the Aughts saw the last of Atlanta’s amazing run of division titles in 2005, and the franchise spent the next 4 years wandering in the desert of also rans. Near the end of his 24th season (over two separate stints) as field general in 2009, Bobby Cox signed a final one year contract and announced that 2010 would be his final curtain call. The end of an era loomed.

2009 Offseason

Frank Wren, kicking off his third season as Braves GM, signed Tim Hudson to a three-year $27M contract extension with a $9M club option for 2013. He also added Billy Wagner to serve as closer on a one year $6.75M deal with a $6.5M club option for 2012, Takashi Saito as set-up man to a one-year $3.2M deal (with additonal performance incentives), Troy Glaus to primarily play 1st base on a one year $1.75M deal (with additional performance incentives), and Eric Hinske as bench depth on a one year $1.5M deal.

In his most significant (and controversial) trade of the offseason, Wren sent pitcher Javier Vazquez (coming off a season where he finished 4th in the NL Cy Young vote) and reliever Boone Logan to the Yankees for outfielder Melky Cabrera and relievers Mike Dunn and Arodys Vizcaino. The reaction around these parts was, shall we say, not favorable.

2010 Atlanta Braves Opening Day Lineup

  • SP – Derek Lowe – was mostly mediocre in 2010 (4.00 ERA, 1.37 WHIP), but took the ball every 5th day and averaged just under 6 innings per start. He was very good down the stretch, going 5-0 in September to help secure a wild card berth and pitched well in the postseason (more on this later).
  • C – Brian McCann – a very good season (.269/.375/.453, 3.4 WAR). Led the team with 21 HR and 77 RBI. Made the all star team as a reserve and named MVP after his bases-clearing double drove in all the NL runs in their 3-1 victory, the first over the AL since 1996. Remarkably stole 5 bases. David Ross was excellent in a backup role.
  • 1B – Troy Glaus – awful in the early season, rebounded to have a great May, but overall was just barely above replacement level. His performance (or lack thereof) led to the acquisition of Derek Lee in mid-August, who played well and saw the majority of the action at 1B for the remainder of the season. Should also mention that Freddie Freeman was a September call up, and saw limited action where his performance did not portend what was to come.
  • 2B – Martin Prado – had a wonderful season (.307/.350/.459, 4.9 WAR), and was named an all star starter. Led the team with 599 AB, 189 hits, 40 doubles, and 275 total bases.
  • 3B – Chipper Jones – was in his zombie Chipper phase (.265/.381/.426, 2.2 WAR). Only played in 95 games, and his season was cut short by a torn ACL in August.
  • SS – Yunel Escobar – a talented but frustratingly undisciplined player, he was ultimately traded along with pitcher Jo Jo Reyes in mid-July to the Blue Jays for SS Alex Gonzales (the other one), pitcher Tim Collins (who was flipped shortly afterward as part of the trade that landed Rick Ankiel and Kyle Farnsworth from KC), and IF Tyler Pastornicky.
  • LF – Melky Cabrera – Blech. These clips speak for themselves (warning: not safe for small children or the infirm).
  • CF – Nate McLouth – suffered a disastrous injury-plagued season (.190/.298/.322, -2.8 WAR in only 242 AB). Less said the better.
  • RF – Jason Heyward – See below.

2010 Atlanta Braves Season Highlights

Debut of Jason Heyward

The Braves drafted Jason out of Georgia’s Henry County High School with the 14th overall selection in the 2007 MLB draft, and he rocketed through the system, finishing 2009 at Gwinnett. He was the consensus top MLB prospect entering 2010, and earned an invitation to spring training where he led the team in OBP and SLG. The Braves chose not to play games with his service time (see Acuna, Ronald), and he broke camp with the big league club as the opening day right fielder. He did not disappoint, hitting a 3-run homer to right field off the Cub’s Carlos Zambrano on his very first swing of the bat.

Jason had a great rookie campaign (.277/.393/.456, 18 HR, 91 walks, 6.3 WAR). He led the team in OBP and OPS among qualifying hitters, and was pretty clearly the team MVP. He did miss some time with a thumb injury incurred while sliding, and he had to sit out the all star game (to which he had been named a starter). He ended up finishing second to Buster (he was out) Posey in the NL Rookie of the Year balloting. It sure looked like Jason was destined to be a superstar and the face of the franchise for many years to come. It didn’t quite work out that way.

The Comeback of Tim Hudson

Hudson had Tommy John surgery in August 2008, and due to the typical recovery period did not return to the lineup until September 2009. After signing an extension in the offseason, he led the starters in 2010 with 228.2 IP, 17 wins, 2.83 ERA, and 1.15 WHIP. Credited with 5.5 WAR, he was named the 2010 Comeback Player of the Year.

Brooks Conrad, Folk Hero

Brooks was a minor league free agent of no distinction when he was signed by the Braves to a minor league contract with an invitation to spring training in 2009. He spent most of the year in Gwinnett, but appeared in 30 games with the Braves. He did hit a 3-run pinch hit homer against the Nats in a 9-8 Braves victory in his debut on July 3 of that season, but otherwise did little of note, finishing with an uninspiring slash line of .204/.259/.407.

Then during the offseason, Brooks made a secret trip to New Orleans to consult with the descendants of Marie Laveau. In a ritual that rumor has it involved clippings of Bobby Cox‘s hair and shards from one of Chipper Jones‘ broken bats, he was endowed with magical (although temporary) powers. Don’t believe me? Consider the evidence:

  • April: he breaks camp with the big league club as bench depth
  • May 20 – hits a walk-off grand slam against the Reds, capping off an eight-run comeback
  • June 12 – drops a game-winning suicide squeeze in the 9th against the Twins
  • July 24 – hits a go-ahead grand slam against the Marlins in the 8th
  • August 10 – hits a go-ahead 2-run homer in the 9th against the Astros
  • August 13 – hits a game winning homer in the 7th against the Dodgers

Unfortunately for Brooks and the Braves, the spell wore off at just the wrong time. I suspect that somehow a lace from Bill Buckner‘s glove was in the room at incantation time.

Return to the Postseason

As the season drew to a close, the Phillies were solidly in first place in the East divison (in year 3 of 5 consecutive divison championships). The Braves entered the final day of the regular season on October 3 tied with the Padres for a wild card berth. Atlanta sent Tim Hudson to the mound against the Phils at Turner Field to try to clinch at least a tie for the wild card. A 2-run homer staked Philly to an early lead, but the Braves scored in four consecutive innings to take an 8-2 lead into the 7th. Hudson allowed another 2-run homer, then Venters and Wagner combined to allow 3 more in the 8th thanks to some shoddy defense. Wagner took matters into his own hands in the 9th, striking out all three Philly batters to seal the victory. Meanwhile, the Giants defeated the Padres, and the postseason drought was finally over. The Braves finished the season with a 91-71 record. Mac’s recap.

The End

The Braves faced the Giants in a best of 5 division series, ultimately falling in four games all decided by one run. The Braves pitched well enough to win, but the offense and defense both let the team down.

Game 1: Giants 1, Braves 0

Derek Lowe and the Brave’s bullpen were good, but Lincecum was even better, striking out 14 Braves in a complete game shutout.

The Giants scored the game’s only run thanks to umpire malfeasance. Here’s the proof. Mac’s recap.

Game 2: Braves 5, Giants 4 (11 innings)

The Braves rallied from a 4-1 deficit to tie the game in the 8th, then won it in the 11th on a Rick Ankiel home run. Wagner hurt himself trying to make a play on a bunt in the 10th inning, and would not appear again in the series. He would be missed. Mac’s recap.

Game 3: Giants 3, Braves 2

This one really hurt. Brooks Conrad was the goat, dropping a pop-up to let one run score, then let a grounder go through the wickets in the top of the 9th that let the winning run score after the Braves had taken the lead in the bottom of the 8th. Mac’s recap.

Game 4: Giants 3, Braves 2

Derek Lowe was again effective and the Braves took a 2-1 lead into the 7th, but the Giants scored 2 to take the lead and their bullpen held on to end the Braves season and Bobby’s managerial career. Mac’s recap.

Do yourself a favor and go back and read some of Mac’s work. The quantity and quality of material he produced was astonishing. He was the best. We miss you Mac. Here is where his 2009 & 2010 recaps can be found.

Thanks for reading on the 2010 Atlanta Braves!

Long live Braves Journal!

Author: Kirk H.

Kirk H. is a long-time reader of and occasional contributor to Braves Journal who after all these years is still in possession of most of his faculties. Don't follow him on Twitter (or elsewhere, as that would be kind of creepy).

66 thoughts on “10 For 10’s: The 2010 Atlanta Braves Season”

  1. Bringing blazon’s comment to Jonathan over as I JC’d the heck out of him:

    back in the USA…

    very fair, thanks…for whatever factual errors/misunderstandings I included, my apologies.

    But I am heartened by your expressed thoughts, looking ahead, and would look forward to them.

    I haven’t changed my base on this subject but take some pride in saying the door remains open. To guys like you. You too I believe!

  2. Kirk H

    This isn’t just good, it’s bookworthy. Find a way maybe. Well done and thank you.

  3. Looks like the start of another great series thanks. The content around here is top notch lately.

    One correction, I think it was Javier Vazquez that was traded, not Javier Lopez.

  4. Our fam has been going through a tough period as we’ve lost a dear friend and have been helping out around their house while her husband and child are figuring out their next step and this place has been my comfort and the pieces have been incomparable to any other site.

    The Braves team is good, but the Braves Journal team is better.

    Thanks guys.

  5. Keith Law
    might there have been a flaw?
    now more Athletically inclined
    Is Riley’s bat still slow? Does he mind?

  6. That 2010 especially the ending was painful. I didn’t have huge expectations for the team, but SF did go on to win the WS. Oh and Posey was, and will forever remain, out.

  7. Great write up of a fun year. 2010 ranks with 2018, 1991, 1982, and 1969 as my favorite Braves seasons. Each team won when they weren’t expected to.

    I was at the last two games of the Giants series. When Hinske homered in the 8th of game 3, Turner Field was as loud as I ever experienced. (I was there when RAJ hit the grand slam P pop the Dodgers—that’s the only time that rivals the excitement). Game 4 against the Giants was my most poignant experience at the ballpark, with the end of Bobby’s career.

  8. Fantastic piece, Kirk, thank you.
    Echoing Dusty at 8 that this was especially painful. We should have won games 2-4.

  9. Great piece. I can’t help but thinking about the parallels to last season’s Cards series. Down to the Wagner (vis a vis Martin) injury. And several close games.

    Umpire calls seem to have made an over-sized impact on our “crapshoot” of a playoff run.

  10. Just trying to think of the umpiring fiasco’s from ATL postseasons.

    1991 – Hrbek
    1991 – Justice missing the bag (NLCS I think)
    1997 – Eric Gregg
    2010 – Posey was, and will forever remain, out
    2012 – Infield Fly

    What am I missing?

  11. 2010 also included Jonny Venters coming out of nowhere to be one of the best relievers in the league.

  12. 12 — 1996 WS Game 4 — The RF umpire impeded Jermaine Dye’s route to a foul ball which fell harmlessly. That batter eventually reached and scored on Leyritz’s game tying homer.

  13. https://syndication.bleacherreport.com/amp/2869433-updated-farm-system-rankings-for-every-mlb-team-at-the-start-of-2020.amp.html

    It’s been over 2 years now since CoppyGate. That’s enough time, esp given the large number of highly regarded prospects, that some of them should be appearing on several team top 10 prospect lists, if they were really any good. Somewhat gratifying that only one, the Korean SS Bae, who was only in the Braves organization for 2 months, is listed anywhere on this list of 300 prospects. And he is only #7 in a weak Pirates organization. A tier 3 prospect who has already been suspended for violating baseball’s domestic violence policy. It’s looking like the Braves might not have lost much after all. Of course that doesn’t include the signing restrictions. The gloom and doom may have been overstated. Amazing the Braves are still rated the #3 farm system.

  14. Is there a call that did indeed go our way in a playoff series that helped us win that playoff series? I know it’s easy to remember the bad calls, but were there any good calls?

  15. @5: May God bless and comfort you all. You’re a good man, Ryan Cothran. Be strong for your friend and his family.

    This place is amazing. Thank you all.

    Can we sign JD already?

  16. @12, 14, 15
    Grrrr… and I was having such a nice day, too….

    Love the topic, too; 2010 was definitely a fun year. I still remember calling both Hinske’s and Ankiel’s home runs.

    Man, there were a lot of below average trades made around that time starting with Vazquez, Lee, Escobar, Collins and I’m sure there were a few more.

  17. @Carl

    I always wondered how much influence Chipper had in the Escobar trade. It was quite apparent he did not like playing next to him.

  18. @22

    Bobby Cox was usually “blamed” for the Escobar trade but I have a feeling that either because of cultural differences, or because Escobar was truly toxic, nobody had his back in the clubhouse.
    He went on to have an okay career with a few other clubs, but he was traded for very little, when you take into account his service time and talent at the time.

    Can’t say I remember anything specific said by Chipper about him, but I’m sure a few unflattering comments similar to those said about Acuna by his teammates were reported back then. (Lack of maturity/ flashy player, stuff like that.)

  19. @23 I remember reading back in the day that Alex Gonzalez got a standing ovation from the Braves players the first time walking into the clubhouse.

  20. 21 Good one DG. I can’t remember any plays in the field that went Atlanta’s way, but the team was certainly the beneficiary of some liberal strike zones, especially for Glavine and Maddux.

  21. Also, thanks braves14, I had forgotten the Grissom play and I must confess I don’t remember the Dye play. I wonder if there is video anywhere?

  22. Can’t find video on the Dye play but did find this story from the LA Times in 1996.

    “Cox had questioned several of Welke’s calls behind the plate in Game 3, and he criticized Welke heavily for not getting out of right fielder Jermaine Dye’s way on a foul ball down the right-field line in Game 4.

    But it was Welke who rung up Cox in Game 6, making him the first manager to be ejected from two World Series games. Cox was the last manager ejected from a World Series. He was thrown out of Game 3 in 1992, a 3-2 Toronto victory.”

  23. Following up on Welke, that makes twice that Atlanta was screwed over by an outfield umpire as he was stationed in RF for game 4.

    With instant replay now, the extra umpires really serve no purpose other that rewarding senior umpires right? They really should do away with the outfield umps.

  24. What’s the general consensus? Would y’all like to see each of these look backs at the 10’s to stay up for 2 days or put up one each day?

  25. Here it is. This is the whole game but the play is at the 1:40:45 mark. It’s disgusting and I had completely forgotten about it.

  26. Dusty, I’ll let you speak for the blog! 2 days it is. We will test this one out and let it speak for the rest.

  27. Ok, I remembered wrong that he scored on the home run but it definitely helped start the rally.

  28. @18, it wasn’t a series we won, but I believe in the 1993 WS there was a play where Smoltz tagged a Blue Jay (Alomar?) “out” at the plate with his glove while holding the ball in his pitching hand.

  29. @27 @29 I know. I’m dying here waiting. Looks like there’s a Rosenthal article in the Athletic that suggests Donaldson might be waiting for the Dodgers to dive into the fray. Hard to believe that might be leverage on the Braves since AA is pretty familiar with the Dodgers’ modus.

    Someone here suggested the Braves were at 4/104 and thought Donaldson would sign this week. Any update on that tidbit? 4/110 sounds like overreaching, but I think 4/104 sounds like a good top offer – stretching but not breaking the bank.

    I also read that only one other 34+ player has ever gotten nine figures. Donaldson might be the second. Nine figures has always seemed a bit high.

  30. @22, maybe it’s wishful thinking, but I don’t get the sense that the vibe around Acuna is the same as the one around Escobar. Seems like Acuna’s teammates are very frustrated by his immaturity but still like him, while I remember thinking that Escobar’s teammates thought he was a jerk, as shown by the AGon standing ovation @24. Also, Acuna is usually the first out of the dougout to celebrate a walkoff and seems to have fun a lot of the time, so he doesn’t seem like a me-only player.

    As to Acuna’s immaturity, I only get to a few games a year, but Acuna is worse than any other outfielder I’ve ever seen about turning around to look in the stands between pitches, taking his glove off, etc. Reminds me of a seven-year-old in his first Little League season. I can see how that would frustrate certain personalities. Hope he can outgrow that without losing the enthusiasm.

  31. I can’t deny that nine figures feels a little high for Donaldson. But I’m also very in-for-a-penny-in-for-a-pound about him at this point. At the end of the day, this is our biggest need and he’s our best fit and I can’t see a single better way to spend an extra lousy couple million bucks than to give it to him to plug the last real hole on the roster.

  32. And yeah — Ronald just turned 22 a week before Christmas. I actually don’t think he’s worse than a lot of the other rah-rah supertalented players his age. He’s a heck of a lot less annoying than Brett Lawrie, probably better than Yasiel Puig or Bryce Harper at this age, and I don’t even have to mention a certain Phillie named Burn-in-Hell.

  33. One of the aspects of 2010 I remember best is how so many non-star players just seemed to step up at the right time. I think I really had a special feeling about that team when Ankiel hit that bases loaded triple in the 9th in Chicago. We had that “team of destiny” feeling at that moment, at least to me.

  34. One more thing – the worst thing about Conrad’s Game 3 – which I attended… oof… – isn’t, IMO, his performance, though it was dreadful. It was the fact we carried Diory Hernandez on the playoff roster and left him twiddling his thumbs on the bench in the 9th. Why was he even on the roster, if it wasn’t for a situation exactly like that?

  35. Shut up, Stephen. THE TEA LEAVES WERE CLEAR.

    Am I wrong to be getting slightly annoyed with the Donaldson process? I’m not saying at Donaldson or MLB teams, but just with how long it’s dragging on? I think January is my mental line in the sand that if a player hasn’t signed with a team, yep, I’m annoyed. Ought I draw a new line in the sand?

  36. Lol. I’m only annoyed because the narrative is that it was down to MIN/WAS/ATL and that the Twins and Nationals have effectively moved on so that leaves Atlanta or a mystery team that decides to knock his socks off. But I think that would have happened already. The longer it goes on, the more teams move on to other options, and the less bargaining power Donaldson has.

    If I had to guess, he and the Braves are at third base and Donaldson is waiting for the Braves to blink on some concession. I think a resolution has to come soon or AA & crew have to be preparing for alternatives.

  37. I read somewhere that Minnesota’s offer was thought to be more like 80-85 over 4 and the Nats were at 100 for 4 with significant deferred money.

    Could be that Atl’s offer is closer to Min’s and JD is holding out for 9 figures with no deferrals. Would certainly explain the stalemate a little.

  38. The longer it goes on, the more I think that it’s because Donaldson doesn’t have said 9-figure deal.

    Yunel Escobar was a little before his time, which is unfortunate. I think he would be received more positively nowadays, though the homophobic slur on his eyeblack will never be ok. They definitely sold low considering the amount of control, as someone said, and how poorly he was hitting at the time. The fact that he was traded for a shortstop whose only real value was in Veteran Presents is telling. Did they really think that by trading for Sea Bass and Pastornicky that Sea Bass for was going to bridge the gap to the long, vibrant Tyler Pastornicky Era?

  39. KLaw with the fire…this echoes my feelings. Based on the Coppy precedent Cora and all the front office types that can be tied to this should get lifetime bans, or Coppy should be reinstated.


    1:04 As a Braves fan, I am mostly feeling bloodyminded and hoping that MLB’s penalties against the Astros are at least as harsh as they were against the Braves. But the rational part of my brain accepts the propriety of fitting punishment to crime. So… in your view, normatively, what should be the punishment levied against the Astros and Red Sox?

    Keith Law

    1:05 I think what the Astros and Red Sox are accused of doing is worse than what the Braves did in the international market, but I also strongly believe MLB doesn’t see it that way for a variety of reasons, not least of which is that the Braves committed the greater baseball sin of trying to pay players more money.

  40. That call in Game 6 of the ’96 World Series is a very good example of why I can’t understand why anybody would want to go back to not having replay. Yay, Bobby Cox got ejected! Manager arguments are fun or whatever! Do you what would be even more fun? Not getting royally screwed by that lazy, couldn’t-be-bothered-to-give-a-crap call. Tim Welke refusing to move while the ball landed right at his feet is another example of umpires back before they were regularly evaluated not bothering to give a crap. That’s the type of thing that happened way too often before they were accountable to replay. The Welke play could theoretically still happen, but generally speaking, umpires have a better attitude about them since IMO.

    As far as bad calls that went in our favor in a playoff series, there’s admittedly not a lot that comes to mind. The sequence that most readily does is the fact that home-plate umpire Randy Marsh’s strike zone seemed to be infinitesimally small during the ninth inning of Game 7 of the 1992 NLCS. The Damon Berryhill at-bat with runners at first and second and one out with the score 2-1 was particularly egregious (starting at about 9:40 of this video…but hey, why not go back and watch the entire ninth inning?). Ball four was absolutely right down the middle, as was ball two:

  41. @50

    Alex Cora should absolutely get a lifetime ban (which yes, includes forcing the Red Sox to fire him) if he’s tied to both of these (and I don’t know how he wouldn’t be).

    I think we’re running a bit into the mindset where stealing signs is “part of the game,” but stealing signs out on the field and stealing signs through elaborate use of technology are two very different things.

  42. @52

    Agreed. I like McDonough a lot as a play-by-play man to this day and can’t quite put my finger on why, but it very well may be linked to fond memories of his call of that game.

  43. Frankly, if you wanted to make it hurt for the teams more, they should have to sit out an entire draft. Houston for the egregious and obvious (and verifiable through video) way they were making a mockery of the game, and Boston given that they had just been popped for the exact same thing in 2017 and had been warned not to let it happen again.

    But they will wind up in better shape than Atlanta did, if I had to guess based on the reporting. Maybe a couple of 1 year suspensions.

  44. I will say, it’s going to be hard to take MLB seriously if two of the best teams in baseball are rampant cheaters, and they only receive a slap hand on the hand. That can’t be good for baseball.

  45. Great question, Alex! I think KLaw is spot on. That’s the only way to explain the seemingly disproportionate punishment.

  46. Also, one slight beef for the webmaster. Ever since I was kneehigh to a grasshopper, I was able to hit the tab and enter buttons to post a comment on the ole Journal after I was done typing. I’m a creature of habit. When I hit tab and enter, it goes to the “use markdown” hyperlink and sends me to that site. So, what about that “enhance your comment” part goes below the post button, that way the tab button takes you to post?

    I mean, if blazon gets to complain all the time, I just want to get one in. :)

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