Braves 6, Pirates 1

That’s more or less exactly how you draw it up. Varsity went 8, and gave up little more than a solo homer, and the bats woke up from their snooze long enough to hang a deeply crooked number on the board, and there wasn’t much else.

Vaughn Grissom had three singles and Michael Harris II nearly hit one out to the same place he homered on Monday, but had to content himself with a booming double.

But speaking of them, I’ll just take the conversation from the last thread and bring it into this post:

Better than the Baby Braves?

I know that to some extent this happens every year, and this is part of what makes baseball so magical, but I just personally can’t think of another case of three rookies like Strider, Harris, and Grissom being unexpectedly pressed into action and immediately performing so extraordinarily.

Obviously, the 2005 Baby Braves are the best comparison, but to be bluntly honest, most of the Baby Braves performed more like effective role players than present or future stars, obviously with the exceptions of Jeff Francoeur and Brian McCann.

(McCann’s OPS was .745, which was mighty impressive for a 21-year old catcher; for comparison, William Contreras was 21 during his rookie campaign last year, and he OPS’ed .701. Both Contreras and McCann immediately became All-Stars in their sophomore campaigns.)

But the rest of the guys more more like also-rans — Wilson Betemit and Kelly Johnson looked like future starters, but they were more or less average in their first go-around; Ryan Langerhans and Pete Orr looked like future utility guys; Macay McBride and Blaine Boyer looked like future pen arms; Kyle Davies and Andy Marte were hot prospects but they flopped in their first look at the majors and never turned it around.

This year, Strider and Harris have been absolute studs for two months, among the better players in the league from the moment they touched down, and I don’t know what to say about Vaughn Grissom’s first two weeks other than to say that I’m not sure I’ve seen anything on the baseball field that he doesn’t do well, and he’s probably going to be lacing up his cleats somewhere for the next 15 years.

This is more like the greatest rookie classes we’ve seen: in 1990, Greg Olson, Dave Justice, Mark Lemke, Steve Avery; 1994, Klesko and Javy (and should have included Chipper); 1996, Andruw Jones and Jermaine Dye (and Jason Schmidt, long before becoming an ace).

But those guys were, for the most part, lionized as the future of the organization before their callups. These guys were called up early, due to injuries. Then they just grabbed the brass ring.

The 2005 rookie class was unbelievable in terms of its size. But these guys haven’t just shown up, they have been the stars of the club. Strider’s second on the team in pitching WAR, behind only Max Fried (4.5 to 3.3), and Fried has thrown 50% more innings. Harris is third on the team in position player WAR, behind Swanson and Riley (they’re at 5.1 and 4.5, and he’s at 3.2), and they have approximately 80% more plate appearances than he does.

If you prorate by playing time, Strider and Harris have arguably been the two best players on the team. (And Grissom’s been worth 1.2 wins in 14 games, which is equally insane.)

Obviously, what happens from here on out is anybody’s guess, and this is a hard game. They’ll take their lumps, they’ll slump and struggle, and it won’t always look this easy. But still, for me, what they’ve done so far is getting close to Andruw hitting two homers in the World Series kind of territory. What in the world can’t these kids do?

53 thoughts on “Braves 6, Pirates 1”

  1. Braves ready to get out of Pittsburgh .. 8 pitch 1st inning by their pitcher … Riley continues to hit .200 since contract signing and still swinging at sliders out of the zone … is Ozuna rubbing off on him .. guess Ozuna told him can suck and still get your 18 mil … I have been …

  2. @1, you’ve used that take on Riley more than Bobby Cox used Jonny Venters. An off day would be appreciated.

  3. 122 mph?? Goodness gracious. I was listening on the radio and they just couldn’t stop gushing about it so I had to quickly find video of it. Man alive. Thank goodness it wasn’t just a little higher – would’ve tied the game and sent a fan to the hospital.

  4. Loved that quick catch from Wright to get out of the third inning!

    Mitch Keller was a serious prospect in his day, a consensus top 20 MLB prospect pre-COVID. He’s not a scrub, although (like a whole lot of these Pirates, including Michael Chavis, Jake Marisnick, Kevin Newman, Bryse Wilson…) he has seriously struggled to translate his potential into results. I can see him laboring to get through this lineup, though. It helps you appreciate just how deep the club is from 1 to 9.

  5. Oh my goodness, Josh VanMeter just Bucknered that ball. That’s unbelievably embarrassing.

  6. Telecast labeled it the hardest hit in the Statcast era, which I think is post-2015.

  7. I repeat what I said in the last Pirate series… I’m the firmest believer in the randomness of baseball outcomes in the universe, but I still can’t figure out how this Pirates team swept the Dodgers in a 3 game series.

  8. I like the balanced schedule in 2023. Every team will face each other in at least one series. Only 52 games against the division vs. 76 this season.

  9. He’s been as nasty as he wanna be.

    Gosh, Grossman has been something else for us. Low-key, nearly as impressive a scrap-heap pickup as the Pederson/Rosario/Soler class last year.

  10. Grand slammer!

    Since close of business Sunday, everything’s worked out perfectly — 2 Mets losses & (if I may be so bold) 3 Braves wins.

    Starting tomorrow, the Mets get the Rockies at home for 4 & we travel to St. Louis for 3. Then it’s Dodgers at Mets, Rockies at Braves. Maybe we pick up another game after all of that.

  11. Oh, my, Matt Olson. I’d say you may be so bold.

    Well, that’s how you get revenge for the Bucs sticking one in Austin’s back pocket.

  12. Nice start to this thread, Bravey. That’ll live on in posterity for awhile.

    Also, what exactly would you like to have happened with Riley? Not sign him to an extension ever because players get lazy (or have panic attacks…it’s hard to keep track of which) when they get paid hundreds of millions of dollars? Or are you just upset because your word salad of the day that the Braves just did it to cover up the fact that they weren’t going to make any moves at the deadline was immediately proven wrong? In any case, dropping it might be in order at this point.

  13. Michael Harris just walked twice in the eighth inning — that’s 13% of his season total! He walked twice in the first game of this series, too. His plate selectivity may be improving before our eyes.

  14. Guillermo Heredia has just one hit since Austin Riley signed his big contract August 1.

    These are the facts.

  15. Has Matzek been relegated to the last spot in the pen? I don’t understand. We’re up by two touchdowns…let Kirby Yates finish this.

  16. I think Yates would be a great choice for the 9th. Matzek has only been pitching every three days or so. Not a bad idea to keep him fresh and hopefully continue to build him back to reliability.

  17. I had a hot take that I’ve been ruminating on prepared for when the Pirates inevitably inserted a position player into the game to pitch the ninth, and then they didn’t. Good for them. I guess I’ll hold onto it for the next time.

  18. Since Riley signed the big contract, gas prices in Switzerland have gone up by over 20%. That’s a fact.

  19. Bravey is upset because Riley is batting .286 since the All-Star break like a mortal human person, and not .423, as we came to expect in July.

  20. Don’t even try to tell me than Vaughn Grissom won’t OPS 1.100 for the rest of the year. I won’t tolerate it.

    @36, I think they have 7 games with the Mets in September.

  21. The Mets host Colorado this weekend and the Dodgers next week. Between the end of that Dodgers series and the start of their three-gamer at Truist Park in the penultimate series of the season, here is their run:

    at Pittsburgh
    at Miami
    at Milwaukee
    at Oakland

    That would likely be a big reason why all the playoff odds sites still have them at better than a 3-in-4 chance to win the division.

  22. @40

    For comparison’s sake, from now until the Mets series, we go:

    at St. Louis
    at Oakland
    at Seattle
    at San Francisco
    at Philadelphia
    at Washington

    So a bit squishy, but certainly not as squishy. They have two series with playoff contenders and we have four or five (depending on your opinion of San Francisco, who’s been a contender all year but seems to be slowly fading into the west).

  23. @42 Pretty, prettyyy, pretty good Big D.
    @ Tried to get tickets, all sold out of course. Does anyone know as of when tickets start to be available via stub hub?

  24. @30, 34 – We traded Will Smith at about the same time we signed Riley. That must mean that Riley’s contract forced us to get rid of Smith. I know everyone is upset about that.

  25. The Mets totally owned the Phillies this year. I think they’ve beaten Wheeler and Nola every time they’ve faced them. We still have the potential to see those two pitchers two more times each, and they give us fits.

    There’s no such things as easy games now. There’s a huge penalty for not winning the division, so both Braves and Mets will be going all out. Overlooking any team on any night just can’t happen.

  26. I do think it’s gonna be a shootout between the Mets and Braves for the rest of the season; both should be winning, so who can push the win percentage higher?

  27. It is extremely common for pitchers to struggle with command after Tommy John surgery. It’s anybody’s guess on whether Yates will find his command before the end of the year. I’m optimistic about him for next year no matter what happens over these next 5 weeks.

  28. @43: Vivid Seats has a bunch of seats available now. I used them for the Mets series in Citi Field, and they upgraded me to the Clover Club seats!

  29. 48 — I think this was his 2nd TJS, which as we know too well is much harder to return from.

  30. When we learn?
    Grissom in an other league. Hold on
    Olsen finally in 14-2 game. Will he go 0 for 12 in St. Louis?
    Freddie gives the Braves three more wins. At least.
    Bullpen, the best? Maybe not.
    Let’s support them as I have faithfully since 1953, but hang on until 162, than opinions will be valid. Now just chatter.
    Enjoyable chatter but not to be taken serious Most OF the time.

  31. @48 Exactly so. He needs the innings regardless of whether they turn out well or not. Kirby needs to be our garbage time pitcher until he shows he has regained that command. But he still needs to be pushed out there. If he gets it back before the playoffs, it’ll be huge boon, but, if he doesn’t, then he will be left off of the playoff roster.

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