Braves 5, Phillies 3

20-5 in June with 2 more games to go. The Braves have resurrected their season in one incredible month.

Matt Olson gave us two home runs, one a moonshot and one a screamer. My thought was that Olson was “heating up” since he’s hit as many home runs in June as he did in April and May combined, but unfortunately that’s not the case. After a .874 OPS in April and a .843 OPS in May, his OPS in June continued to fall to .781. Long balls make for good highlights, and his power has been similar, but while making more contact (he cut his strikeout rate by almost half in June), he’s walking less. So, he’s working through things.

I’m looking forward to the decoupling of Matt Olson and Freddie Freeman, and maybe we’re getting closer. Freddie came and went, Olson is hitting home runs and creating highlights, and maybe this is the beginning of the end of what has been the weirdest situation involving two similar players that I can remember. Kill it with fire.

Charlie Morton‘s 1st inning struggles continued. His 9.60 ERA means his first time through the top of the order is about as bad as his third time through the order. But he settled down, and gave us another good start before running into trouble in the 6th. He continues to improve (7.00 ERA in April, 4.60 ERA in May, and 3.52 ERA in June), and he’ll probably end up being worth what he’s paid by the end of the year, especially if he can have some postseason success.

Dansby Swanson was 0-5 and Michael Harris II didn’t make any jaw-dropping plays in CF. May those anomalies not continue.

AJ Minter closed it out in place of Kenley Jansen. I don’t care how much closing experience Will Smith has; I don’t want him anywhere near the 9th.

61 thoughts on “Braves 5, Phillies 3”

  1. Two Predictions:

    Matt Olson will finish the season with 40+ 2B and 30+ HR
    The Mets’ offense will tail off substantially and they will be unable to pull away from the Braves. Scherzer returns but DeGrom cannot, and the NL East is decided in the last week of the season.

  2. Olson is on pace for 62 doubles, so that’s an easy one. He’s on pace for 25 home runs. And I hope and think about 10 of those doubles he’s on pace for will turn into homers. So it’s very possible we see 50+ doubles and around 35 homers for Olson. It’s pretty wild that Olson has never hit more than 35 doubles in a season and he’s already at 29.

  3. I will second the opinion on Smith.
    Thank you.
    How many teams have a 330 hitter batting ninth? It that to take the pressure off him? Or just dumb managing? I go with the later.

  4. @2 If you assume Olson hits doubles and home runs at his career average pace over the remainder of the season (360-ish PAs), he’ll finish this season with 46 2B and 32 HR. 50+ 2B and 35+ HR is a distinct possibility… I think he reaches at least one of those numbers if not both.

  5. There are, so far this season, 39 players batting over .300 with more than 5 games batting out of the 9th spot. (Note I am counting their batting average as a 9th place hitter here.) The players most comparable to Harris are Gavin Lux (.301 in 46 games batting 9th) and Luis Torrens (.333 in 16 games in the 9th slot.)

  6. @3, I don’t mind it if the primary thing is to take the pressure off him, and at this point I’m just happy with whatever works. Talented as he is, Harris is still a 21-year old guy with a total of 317 PA above A-ball, and there is a strong chance he won’t end the year batting .300, so I want to preserve his confidence by keeping the stakes relatively low for whenever the inevitable slump may come. For that matter, it’s taken Dansby until his seventh year in the majors to seemingly find his swing, and he’s a former 1-1 draftee whose makeup is supposedly off the charts.

    I don’t think Harris’s success is a Francoeur-like mirage, but I don’t want to push him to the top of the lineup just because he’s had a magical run in his first 111 plate appearances.

    For what it’s worth, Lux is another former top prospect who has really struggled to find his stroke in his first few years in the majors. If I were the Dodgers, I’d want to let him thoroughly establish himself in his new success before yanking him around in the order, too.

  7. Harris has only walked 3 times in his first 111 PAs. Most of his offensive value comes from his unsustainable .327 batting average.

    He does have good speed, so he may be able to sustain a higher than average BABIP, but he needs to learn better plate discipline.

    Edit: What Alex said.

  8. @6: Gavin Lux is the only player in the history of baseball whose last name is the same as the beginning of a college motto. Some mght point to Fred Knowledge of the 1921 Happyville Hoosegows, but I would point out that Faber is not a real college.

    Oh, and he’s the only player in history whose name ends in X. (Sorry, Chip.)

  9. There’s another theory (in play when Dansby was hitting 9th) that the 9th place hitter essentially functions as a lead-off hitter the second time through the order. Putting speed at the bottom of the order is a way to get men on base for your best hitters.

    That’s one reason for the Braves’ recent success – contributions from the bottom of the lineup (Arcia/Duvall/Harris). When Riley/Olson/Ozuna have slumped, the Braves still scored runs with Dansby and Ronald knocking in Arcia/Duvall/Harris.

  10. @8, actually, I’m afraid that Lux is not really “the only player in the history of baseball whose last name is the same as the beginning of a college motto.”

    I think David Firstman might be the absolute expert in baseball names, as the author of “Hall of Name,” and I’d love to get his guidance on this. However, I started doing a little research, and found a couple close calls:

    • Joey Cora is close to Emory University’s “Cor prudentis possidebit scientiam”;
    • Hazen Minda (a 1950s farmhand for the Milwaukee Braves) is close to Swarthmore College’s “Mind the Light”

    And then, at long last, I found the counterproof to your claim:

    • Patrick Wisdom’s last name is also the beginning of Kennesaw State’s motto (according to Wikipedia): “Wisdom, Justice, Moderation.”

  11. @11: Bravo, though I was really just trying to figure out a way to make an Animal House joke.

    @9: Yep. But the essence of the theory is to take a player with good hitting skills and bad OBA (relative to hitting skills) and hit him 9th. You give up an at-bat for that player in every game, but at least you aren’t guaranteed to have a leadoff at-bat, where the walk is much more valuable.

  12. I’ve kept looking, and I also found Jeff Vires, who played independently in Tijuana in 2010, has a name that is also the beginning of what Wikipedia claims is FSU’s motto, “Vires, Artes, Mores.”

    Can you find any more?

    EDIT: In fairness, it was a really good Animal House joke.

  13. Ralph Lumenti is not far from Universidade Estadual do Ceará’s “Lumen Ad Viem.” Mike Lum is in shouting distance, too.

    Bob Forsch isn’t that far from the University of Hamburg’s “der Forschung, der Lehre, der Bildung”

    But I got another one. The motto of the University of Potsdam (and I have to admit I love this motto) “Klein aber fein” [Small but excellent] Chuck is the most famous of the three Kleins.

    And everyone named Vince has the same first name as Universidad Anhuac’s “Vince in bono malum”

  14. Didn’t stop to say it earlier, but thanks Mr. Copenhaver.

    Who had the trifecta of this level of contribution from Strider, Harris, and Contreras? That was probably paying 1000 to 1. it also means all of the “oh where can the Braves go for prospect help” is a great exaggeration.

  15. Ka-boom, Astros up 2-0 in the top of the 9th.

    Buck fired his Nunez bullet in the top of the 8th & didn’t bring him back for the 9th.

  16. The Mets just finished the month 13-12, which isn’t great, but should’ve been enough to tread water to a certain degree. But we’re currently 20-5 for the month, so it’s not really working out for them particularly well right now.

  17. Holy shit! The drama just continues to unfold.

  18. Didn’t Excel and Atlanta already have a bad relationship? This probably didn’t help things.

  19. That would explain why Freddie was so strangely emotional last weekend. But I’m skeptical–that would be highly unethical and improper for an agent, and the kind of thing that would clearly backfire on the agent when it is inevitably found out.

  20. I’d like to see some corroboration but it makes sense to me. It seems to explain the inexplicable.

  21. Tonight is yet another argument for robo-umps. As if we need any more.

  22. @24

    Yes, you are right. And because of that, I would expect someone other than Dansby Swanson to be at shortstop in 2023.

  23. When Olson hit his first double tonight to give him 30 (now 31) in the team’s 76th game, I looked at the single-season doubles leaderboard. I had guessed that extreme totals would only come from players who maxed out in several aspects plus got lucky – outstanding doubles hitters in hitters’ parks in hitter’s eras who were fast enough to get a few extra doubles with their legs. Olson doesn’t really meet any of those criteria, and he’s a lot slower than I had thought extreme doubles hitters would be. My expectation, at least for speed as reflected in steals, doesn’t seem to have been accurate. Of the 13 players with 57 or more doubles in a season, none had more than 13 steals. (Biggio, Jose Ramirez, and Brian Roberts all had more steals and 56 doubles.) I don’t know too much about most of those 13 players, but none of them strike me as having been particularly fast except Tris Speaker, who was 35 and had slowed down when he hit 59. It looks like the hitter’s era factor is more important, as all six players who hit 60+ doubles in a season did so between 1926 and 1936.

  24. Doesn’t Excel have a stable of agents, of which Casey Close is but one? Or is he the head honcho?

  25. Earl Webb, “the king of doublin'” may well have been among the slowest men in baseball when he set the record in 1931. He was certainly the slowest outfielder. On the other counts, he did get to hit in Fenway during the best time ever to be a hitter.

  26. Chavez strikes out the side in the 8th! Who says we need a power right-hander in the pen?

  27. Someone in these parts said left field defense didn’t matter. Ozuna is really testing that theory.

    ChipWatch: He’s gone through appendectomies?

  28. @35, 37 – I don’t actually mind Ozuna trying the sliding catch in that situation. Up 3 runs in the 8th with nobody on, the benefit of possibly getting the out seems greater than the cost of giving up an extra base. Of course it would be better if he could actually make the catch.

  29. Isn’t the point of feet-first slide to bring you to a stop? He was nowhere near a wall.

    He’s not even that slow; he’s just really bad at half his job.

  30. You really have to wonder how much patience Trout has to stay in Anaheim. I wonder if a trade demand is in the offing. He’s a decade into his career and has 15 plate appearances in the postseason. But Trout is the kind of guy you build a franchise around. He’s 30 and they’ve accomplished nothing and, indeed, seem to be going backwards.

  31. @43: Ted Williams had 25 postseason at bats. Billy Williams had 7. Ernie Banks had none. OK… postseasons are longer now. But still….

  32. @43 – If the Angels will eat some of Trout’s contract, I think sending both Ozuna and Drew Waters would be a decent trade for Atlanta. If I were the Braves, I would even consider sending them Duvall.

  33. @44 interesting to note all of those are pre-free agency, and mostly pre-expansion.

  34. @29 I would expect Dansby to follow suit and fire that agency as well. I think his emotion toward Freddie’s departure will lead to him giving them the boot as well

  35. @48, Dansby made quite a pledge of loyalty to his agency:

  36. @49 Interesting. That seems like a pretty short sighted view by him but whatever I guess. If they did that to Freddie they could certainly do that to him.

  37. This was before the Gottlieb claim, so maybe that would change things, but Close has denied it, and nobody else has corroborated the allegation.

  38. @44

    Yeah, that was kind of a different world. If Ted Williams were playing today, I don’t think people would shrug off the fact that he had 25 postseason at-bats. More to the point, if he were playing today, he’d have had more than 25 postseason ABs. He made the “playoffs” (which was the World Series) once. If you assume the top two teams from the league had made the playoffs back then (which doesn’t even get you to the proportion of teams that make it today), he makes it five additional times.

    So the point is that Mike Trout having 15 postseason ABs and Ted Williams having 25 are not especially similar things. Ted Williams was in the same league with the Yankees and only one could make the “playoffs”…tough luck. Mike Trout should have made the playoffs more than once.

  39. Travis d’Arnaud was DFA’d 3 years ago and now might be the starting catcher in the ASG. We are bigger than our failures.

  40. @52: Agreed. But this list while dominated with pre-playoff players has some MVPs whose careers made it well into the playoff era (Torre) and some guys with really long careers in the playoff era (Dunn, Jean Segura… maybe this year!)
    And just getting to the playoffs is a pretty dumb goal for a player nowadays… it’s supposed to be about rings, right? And the list of players great players who never won a World Series is really awesome.

  41. @54 Haha. Very good example. I think we’ve had some other guys we let go and became great players here recently. We traded Victor Caratini for Emilio Bonerface and a LOOGY, and while it took a while, he would be an example of guy that blossomed elsewhere.

    Nick Ahmed gave Arizona basically what Dansby gave us up until this year. I don’t regret the JUpton trade though.

    But overall, I think we’ve done really well with buying low and selling high in the Coppy and AA years. They were talking this morning on MLB Network about how St. Louis sent Zac Gallen and Sandy Alcantera to Miami for Marcell Ozuna. Good gosh, that hurts.

  42. Caratini and Ahmed took YEARS to be productive. Same with Brandon Drury and Tommy La Stella and a bunch of ex-Atlanta farmhands who have carved out decent careers for themselves. I’m always happy for any success they have and I never regret swapping any of them for a second. None was a blue chip.

  43. Nothing has been announced by the Club, but there are reports that Braves PA announcer Casey Motter passed suddenly overnight.

  44. Overall we have very few prospects from our farm system who have gone on to Blue Chip careers. Adam Wainwright is the best example. Our failing is not trading away talent, it’s signing existing talent who don’t seem to perform for us for whatever reason. (Melky, BJ, Gausman, etc. etc. Just trying to assemble a list in my head makes it hurt.)

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