April 10, 2011 at 4:26 pm by Capitol Avenue Club under Atlanta Braves
“The largest variable determining how many runs a team will score is how many times they get their leadoff man on.” — Bill James
Martin Prado: .279/.289/.442
A player whose offensive value generally comes from his batting average is inherently going to have ups and downs. Hitting for average involves not only the batter and the opposing pitcher, but also the opposition’s defense. Walks and homers are strictly batter-pitcher-park affairs, and thus subject to one less type of variance than balls in play.
That Martin Prado has only been on base 13 times in 10 games isn’t much of a concern at this point, but it’s a reasonable explanation for why this team, a team that was supposed to sport one of the best offenses in the league, has scored 3.2 runs per game. This won’t be the last time Prado has a 10-game stretch in which he reaches base fewer than 30 percent of the time, nor will it be the last time the Braves struggle to score runs. Eventually Prado will get on a hot streak and reach base something like 45 percent of the time, and the Braves will score in bunches. This up and down type of offensive output is what the team signed up for when they placed a player who walks in fewer than seven percent of his plate appearances in the leadoff spot. Walk rate stabilizes a lot faster than hits/balls in play. We’re going to love it when the hits are falling and hate it when they aren’t, but at the end of the year we’ll probably look back with no ill will towards Martin Prado or his placement in the line-up. So hold steady for now, because the hits will come. Not that Prado couldn’t stand to walk more.
Derek Lowe deserved better. Having forgotten how to win, Lowe was assigned a loss by record-keepers based on an arbitrary and asinine set of rules. He pitched 7 innings with a 2/0 K/BB ratio and an 11/8 GO/FO ratio. He allowed 7 hits, 6 singles and 1 homer to Shane Victorino, who I’m extremely glad to not have to see play baseball again for another month. The Phillies got their first run in the 4th when Victorino singled to lead off the inning, Placido Crapolonco singled to make it first and third, and Jimmy Rollins hit into a run-scoring double-play. Philadelphia’s third run came in the 9th inning against Craig Kimbrel when Jimmy Rollins hit a liner to right that rolled all the way to the wall. Heyward bobbled it, allowing Rollins to take 3rd with nobody out, then Ryan Howard hit into a run-scoring groundout.
The Braves had five hits and one walk versus the Phillies’ eight hits and one walk. To the surprise of many Nate McLouth was the only Brave to reach base twice, doubling in the second and walking in the sixth. His double was also Atlanta’s only extra-base hit. He made up for it by grounding into an inning-ending double play after Martin Prado singled with one out in the 8th. One baserunner was a rally in this one. Chipper Jones, Brian McCann, and Dan Uggla combined to go 0-for-12. Uggla struck out against Jose Contreras in the 9th to end the game, meaning for the fourth time this year Nate McLouth came to bat one more time than Jason Heyward.
Jonny Venters retired the side in order on 6 pitches (all groundouts) in the 8th inning. He’s now faced 19 batters and thrown 51 pitches.