After ten games, the Braves are 5-5, already sporting a 5-game win streak and 4-game losing one. Both the offense and pitching has been inconsistent, while the defense has been consistently poor. Thankfully, the Phillies and Marlins have also struggled a bit out of the gates, leaving the Braves only looking up to the Nationals and Mets.
Offensively, the Braves are hitting .224/.293/.361, scoring only 42 runs. While the team BABIP is only .259, the league BABIP is only .283, so the Braves haven’t been as unlucky as it seems. The team’s BB% and K% are essentially league average, a good sign after last year’s lack of patience. However, they are swinging at the league’s 7th highest rate and making contact at the 3rd lowest, which are not good signs for future plate discipline rates. The Braves have also seen the fewest pitches in the strike zone this year, so that Swing% needs to come down if pitchers continue to try to entice our hitters.
Individually, Heyward, Chipper and McCann have carried what offense we’ve had. Heyward’s .435 BABIP will not continue, but his BB%, K%, and ISO are all in good ranges to diminish the effect of the dropoff when balls stop falling in. Freeman has struggled mightily in every category. He’s swinging at a 59% clip this year, about 7% higher than last year, while also making 2% less contact. According to both linear weights and WPA, Freeman has been about four runs below average, which is a pace for six WINS over a full season. He won’t hit this poorly all year, but this is a very poor start. On the defensive front, Diaz has somehow managed to play his way to a -3.8 UZR in 30 innings.
The pitching staff has been worse than expected, amassing a 4.19 ERA and 4.08 FIP, each of which are in the bottom 10 when adjusting for league. Both walks and homeruns have been a little high, while strikeouts are coming at an average rate. Hitters also have a .329 BABIP off the Braves, the third-highest mark in the majors. The defense gets some blame, but it seems to be a fair amount of bad luck too. With 60.7% first-pitch strikes, the Braves are in the top 10, one of the few rates where they rank above average.
The walks have been especially egregious among the starters, with each pitcher walking hitters at or above a 9.5% rate. Jurrjens has also only managed to strike out 13% of his batters faced, while the other four are above 18%. This is a big factor into his 7.71 ERA and 8.78 FIP. Beachy has the most impressive batted ball profile of the four starters with multiple starts, inducing 57% groundballs while only allowing two line drives out of 35 batted balls. Jurrjens and Minor, as expected, have been extreme flyball pitchers, and Hanson has been neutral. Medlen has pounded the zone, possibly too much since he hasn’t recorded his first strikeout yet.