July 29, 2011 at 9:04 am by Ben Duronio under Atlanta Braves
Buster Olney reported this in a tweet about an hour ago, in reference to the Braves’ run at Hunter Pence:
Observation from an NL official about the Braves’ interest in Hunter Pence: “They don’t value on-base percentage as much as other teams do.”
As a saber-slanted Braves blog, it would be near blasphemy for us not to touch on this statement. Here are a few quick numbers on this.
Braves in 2010: .339 OBP (1st in NL), 738 runs (5th in NL)
Braves in 2011: .309 OBP (13th in NL), 428 runs (9th in NL)
The Braves are on pace to score 654 runs this year, which would be one less than the San Diego Padres (.317 OBP) and Washington Nationals (.318 OBP) did last year. While there are certainly other factors, which is evident by the Braves’ rank in OBP and runs in each season, nothing attributes to run scoring as much as getting on base.
Not valuing outs is just absolutely mind-boggling. You get 27 of them per game, each should be treated as somewhat sacred. You simply are not going to score many runs if you do not get on base. The Braves are hitting for a lot more power this year than last year, which has helped them maintain at least respectable run scoring totals, but it is literally impossible to state that they would not have more if they got on base more.
It is quite odd, because one would have assumed last year’s performance in terms of on base totals and run scoring would lead the team to value OBP even more than they did previously, but that is apparently not close to true.
I have had problems with players’ and coaches’ statements in the past. Fredi not knowing Schafer’s OBP is considerably lower than McLouth’s, and Francoeur asking that if OBP was so important then why isn’t it on the scoreboard are two great examples of that. But I seldom get aggravated by reports about the front office’s philosophies. Of course, this is just one NL official speaking, so maybe Wren and Co. value it more than this anonymous official feels, but it is a bit disconcerting to think that this is what competitors think of the franchise.
But hey, if the Braves don’t think OBP is that important, hopefully they go for B.J. Upton (.309) rather than Hunter Pence (.356).