The Braves offense is coming around….
In fact, it’s been coming around since the end of the St. Louis series. Since the 6-5 win over the Cardinals on May 18th, the Braves have averaged 4.33 runs per game. The average in the 41 games prior to that? 3.15. That’s all kinds of ugly.
There’s been a serious change in approach that has positively affected almost everyone in the starting lineup. The players have taken hold of the approach used last year which helped the offense become the 4th most potent in the National League. Here are the OBPs of the players who have seen action over that time compared to their OBPs the first 41 games of the season:
1. Jason Heyward- First 41: .318 Last 15: .391
2. B.J. Upton- First 41: .272 Last 15: .350
3. Justin Upton- First 41: .356 Last 15: .448
4. Freddie Freeman- First 41: .379 Last 15: .415
5. Chris Johnson: First 41: .303 Last 15: .183
6. Andrelton Simmons: First 41: .297 Last 15: .298
7. Evan Gattis: First 41: .272 Last 15: .433
8. Gerald Laird: First 41: .293 Last 15: .355
9. Ramiro Pena: First 41: .261 Last 15: .278
As you can see, the numbers are quite mind-blowing! Just from an eyeballed perspective, it looks as though the majority of players are laying off of balls outside the zone, which in turn leads to more walks, less strikeouts, more hittable pitches. Duh, right? Here’s the breakdown:
Left on Base- First 41: 7.4/game Last 15: 6.7
Walks- First 41: 2.6/game Last 15: 3.7
Hits- First 41: 7.7/game Last 15: 8.7
Net Stolen Bases- First 41: .32/game Last 15: 0.6
Batting Average- First 41: .231 Last 15: .264
OBP- First 41: .290 Last 15: .341
Strikeouts- First 41: 8.9/game Last 15: 7.4
OPS- First 41: .659 Last 15: .745
Yes, that’s right. Every single component of the Braves offense has seen serious improvement over the last 15 games. The Braves are getting more people on base (almost 2 more base-runners per game), but their leaving less on base. Another benefit that one might not think about when this type of offense starts clicking is the base-running. The Braves have stolen 9 bases over the past 15 games and have not been caught over that time period. When batters see more balls per plate appearance, the chance of picking out pitchers’ patterns to steal successfully also increases.
So, where does Tommy La Stella fit in and why do I constantly call him “The Balance”?
If La Stella’s current success at the Major League level mirrors his track record from the Minor Leagues, his approach will compliment all aspects of the above listed offensive components, and help the Braves continue on the path of offensive excellence. Also, his handedness is a much-needed breakup in an offense that becomes extremely right-handed heavy, making pitchers and managers counter with the necessary adjustments. The Braves offense has really found some balance over the past 15 games, and Tommy La Stella is, and will continue to be, a major factor in that balance.