The month of April is now complete, and the Braves have compiled a 17-9 record, leading the NL East by 2 games over the Mets and Nationals, and good for the 2nd best record in the MLB behind the Brewers (who we took 2 of 3 from to begin the year). As Alan Carpenter detailed here, the Braves have relied most heavily on their pitching thus far, gaining terrific starts from Aaron Harang (who may have that regression monster catching up to him) and David Hale to help post a 2.32 team ERA in the month of April. A lot of this is due to a low BABIP and walk rate, but as a group the starters are pitching fairly close to their potential. And it only gets better. Mike Minor returns on Friday versus the Giants, and Gavin Floyd will be called up shortly thereafter and will likely find a spot in the rotation for himself as well.
Meanwhile, the Braves batters have been off to a slower start. The Braves wRC+ in April was just 93, which is considered to be below average overall. The team is 9th in the NL in offensive value. Much of this can probably be blamed on a walk rate that sits in the bottom third of the NL, compared to the Braves walk rate in ’13 that was second overall in the senior circuit. Also, poor early season results from Chris Johnson, Dan Uggla, and BJ Upton at the plate help to drag the the team’s overall offensive value so far.
With these facts known, you should be optimistic about the Braves future. The return of Minor and Floyd will bolster the rotation, and possibly protect us from the regression monster that was eating at Harang and Hale. BJ Upton has looked slightly better in recent weeks, and surely the Braves won’t keep struggling with Uggla if he is unable to get his act together. Chris Johnson still presents cause for concern, but he has earned the right for us to keep trusting that he will regain some of his form. He probably won’t ever be as good as he was in 2013, but he has the offensive ability to at least be a positive value player.
With the first month of play in the books, it’s time to conduct yet another poll to gauge the fans’ feelings about the state of the Atlanta Braves. Take a second and vote below!