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2015 Braves vs. 1988 Braves

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  • 2015 Braves vs. 1988 Braves

    For everyone's amusement and partly for my contention that this year's team will not be so bad, I will compare the 2015 Braves to the worst Braves team of the Atlanta era: the 1988 squad.

    Catchers

    1988
    Ozzie Virgil, Jr,: 350 PA, .256/.313/.372, 9 HR, 31 RBI, 93 OPS+, 1.0 WAR (BBRef, just for reference)

    2015
    Christian Bethancourt: 117 PA, .248/.274/.274, 0 HR, 9 RBI, 55 OPS+, -0.2 WAR

    A veteran versus a rookie here. I'm pretty sure Bethancourt isn't really capable of hietting nine homers, but we all know why he's starting: his defense. The '88 Braves did the opposite: starting offense and spelling him with defense.

    First Baseman

    1988
    Gerald Perry: 595 PA, .300/.338/.400, 8 HR, 74 RBI, 109 OPS+, 0.2 WAR

    2015
    Freddie Freeman: 708 PA, .288/.386/.461, 18 HR, 78 RBI, 138 OPS+, 3.1 WAR

    Two bright spots of each team. Gerald Perry flat out hit like he never had before; he had a .337 average at the break and he was selected to play in the All-Star game. He slumped of course to go to .300, but he was reliable for contact, if not for power.

    Freeman is, of course, one of the five best first basemen in baseball and the Braves should definitely feel fortunate to have him around.

    Second Baseman

    1988
    Ron Gant: 618 PA, .259/.317/.439, 19 HR, 63 RBI, 112 OPS+, 2.1 WAR

    2015
    Jace Peterson: 58 PA, .113/.161/.113, 0 HR, 0 RBI, -18 OPS+, -0.6 WAR

    Another real bright spot of the '88 team: Gant finished fourth in the RoY voting and (I'm pretty sure about this) led all rookies with 19 homers. Peterson obviously had a very bad debut, but I believe he'll be one of the surprise rookies of the season.

    Shortstop

    1988
    Andres Thomas: 627 PA, .252/.268/.360, 13 HR, 68 RBI, 76 OPS+, -1.7 WAR

    2015
    Andrelton Simmons: 576 PA, .244/.286/.381, 7 HR, 46 RBI, 74 OPS+, 3.5 WAR

    Boy, those seasons are eerily similar aren't they? Believe it or not: Andres Thomas led all NL shortsops that year with 13 homers. Too bad he was pretty much bad at everything else he did. And if Simmons doesn't adjust his batting output upward, he'll be Thomas with Ozzie Smith-defense.

    Third Baseman

    1988
    Ken Oberkfell: 469 PA, .277/.325/.365, 3 HR, 40 RBI, 95 OPS+, 0.0 WAR

    2015
    Chris Johnson: 611 PA, .263/.292/.361, 10 HR, 58 RBI, 83 OPS+, -1.3 WAR

    Oberkfell was a defense-first player which probably caused him to be so low on the WAR list. Johnson is, of course, bad on offense AND defense. But hey, nowhere to go but up, right?

    Left Field

    1988
    Dion James: 449 PA, .256/.353/.350, 3 HR, 30 RBI, 100 OPS+, -0.3 WAR

    2015
    Jonny Gomes: 321 PA, .234/.327/.330, 6 HR, 37 RBI, 87 OPS+, -0.8 WAR (Total)

    James was traded to the Braves straight up for failed prospect Brad Komminsk in 1987. He could take a few walks, which probably helped his OPS+ there. He couldn't do much else though. Gomes of course has just come off one of his worst seasons and is really starting because the Braves goofed in not finding a real left fielder. (I still say they should have signed Ichiro and paired him with Gomes.)

    Center Field

    1988
    Terry Blocker: 210 PA, .212/.250/.283, 2 HR, 10 RBI, 50 OPS+, -0.6 WAR

    2015
    Melvin Upton, Jr.: 582 PA, .208/.287/.333, 12 HR, 35 RBI, 75 OPS+, -0.3 WAR

    There can be a legitimate case made that these two guys are the worst center fielders the Braves have ever employed.

    Right Field

    1988
    Dale Murphy: 671 PA, .226/.313/.421, 24 HR, 77 RBI, 106 OPS+, 3.1 WAR

    2015
    Nick Markakis: 710 PA, .276/.342/.386, 14 HR, 50 RBI, 107 OPS+, 2.1 WAR

    Almost a similar situation here too. Both players had injuries that hurt their production and yet they were still decent players overall. Of course, Dale never fully recovered. There's a small chance that Markakis could still be effective after his injury while Murphy couldn't be. I personally believe that he can at least provide the overall production at the plate that Heyward could at his worst. At least that would be something. Defense, of course, is no contest, but that's like comparing Babe Ruth to Rafael Belliard.

    Bench

    1988
    Bruce Benedict, C: 262 PA, .242/.296/.271, 0 HR, 19 RBI, 62 OPS+, 0.3 WAR
    Albert Hall, CF: 257 PA, .217/.314/.299, 1 HR, 15 RBI, 75 OPS+, -0.4 WAR
    Ken Griffey, Sr., LF: 212 PA, .249/.307/.306, 2 HR, 19 RBI, 74 OPS+, -1.4 WAR
    Lonnie Smith, LF: 125 PA, .237/.296/.342, 3 HR, 9 RBI, 80 OPS+, 0.6 WAR
    Ted Simmons, 1B: 123 PA, .196/.293/.308, 2 HR, 11 RBI, 71 OPS+, -0.5 WAR
    Gary Roenicke, LF: 122 PA, .228/.279/.298, 1 HR, 7 RBI, 64 OPS+, -0.3 WAR
    Jerry Royster, UT: 111 PA, .176/.222/.206, 0 HR, 1 RBI, 22 OPS+, -0.7 WAR
    Jim Morrison, 3B: 105 PA, .152/.229/.239, 2 HR, 13 RBI, 33 OPS+, -0.3 WAR

    2015
    A. J. Pierzynski, C: 362 PA, .251/.288/.337, 5 HR, 37 RBI, 75 OPS+, -0.9 WAR
    Alberto Callaspo, IF: 451 PA, .223/.290/.290, 4 HR, 39 RBI, 66 OPS+, -1.0 WAR
    Kelly Johnson, UT: 297 PA, .215/.296/.362, 7 HR, 27 HR, 86 OPS+, 0.6 WAR (Total)
    Eric Young, Jr., OF: 316 PA, .229/.299/.311, 1 HR, 17 RBI, 77 OPS+, 0.9 WAR
    Phil Gosselin, UT: 136 PA, .266/.304/.320, 1 HR, 3 RBI, 77 OPS+, 0.9 WAR
    Joey Terdoslavich, UT: 11 PA, .300/.364/.500, 0 HR, 2 RBI, 141 OPS+, -0.0 WAR
    Todd Cunningham, OF: Minors
    Joe Benson, OF: Minors

    Well, one difference I see immediately is that the '15 bench has more youth and inexperience while the '88 bench is much more stocked with has-beens (in some ways). '88 team was stocked with a bunch of guys who were good in the late '70s and early '80s but had nothing left. It was actually a common pattern for them to do that, as the previous couple of years had seen guys like Rick Cerone and Craig Nettles don the Braves uniform. No one foresaw Lonnie Smith's career 1989 season after the injury this year. Ken Griffey, Sr., who was very serviceable the year before, just tanked this year.

    The Braves of course are banking on their own veteran influence at the possible expense of production. Maybe they can squeeze out some productivity out of them, as each has something decent to offer still and most also have time for a rebound.

    Starting Rotation

    1988
    Rick Mahler: 9-16, 3.69 ERA, 249 IP, 279 H, 125 R, 102 ER, 42 BB, 131 K, 1.289 WHIP, 99 ERA+, 2.4 WAR
    Tom Glavine: 7-17, 4.56 ERA, 195.3 IP, 201 H, 111 R, 99 ER, 63 BB, 84 K, 1.352 WHIP, 80 ERA+, 0.5 WAR
    Pete Smith: 7-15, 3.69 ERA, 195.3 IP, 183 H, 89 R, 80 ER, 88 BB, 124 K, 1.387 WHIP, 100 ERA+, 3.3 WAR
    Zane Smith: 5-10, 4.30 ERA, 140.3 IP, 159 H, 72 R, 67 ER, 44 BB, 59 K, 1.447 WHIP, 85 ERA+, 1.4 WAR
    Kevin Coffman: 2-6, 5.78 ERA, 67 IP, 62 H, 52 R, 43 ER, 54 BB, 24 K, 1.731 WHIP, 64 ERA+, -1.3 WAR
    John Smoltz: 2-7, 5.48 ERA, 64 IP, 74 H, 40 R, 39 ER, 33 BB, 37 K, 1.672 WHIP, 67 ERA+, -0.2 WAR

    2015
    Julio Teheran: 14-13, 2.89 ERA, 221 IP, 188 H, 82 R, 71 ER, 51 BB, 186 K, 1.081 WHIP, 126 ERA+, 3.9 WAR
    Alex Wood: 11-11, 2.78 ERA, 171.2 IP, 151 H, 58 R, 53 ER, 45 BB, 170 K, 1.142 WHIP, 131 ERA+, 3.7 WAR
    Shelby Miller: 10-9, 3.74 ERA, 183 IP, 160 H, 78 R, 76 ER, 73 BB, 127 K, 1.273 WHIP, 98 ERA+, 0.5 WAR
    Mike Minor: 6-12, 4.77 ERA, 145.1 IP, 165 H, 77 R, 77 ER, 44 BB, 120 K, 1.438 WHIP, 75 ERA+, 0.1 WAR
    Eric Stults: 8-17, 4.30 ERA, 176 IP, 197 H, 93 R, 84 ER, 45 BB, 111 K, 1.375 WHIP, 78 ERA+, -0.7 WAR
    Trevor Cahill: 3-12, 5.61 ERA, 110.2 IP, 123 H, 76 R, 69 ER, 55 BB, 105 K, 1.608 WHIP, 67 ERA+, -1.5 WAR

    The first thing I notice is the funny WARs for the '88 Braves starters. Pitching really must have been watered down in 1988 for Pete Smith, of all people, to get up so much WAR. Even the rookie Glavine had a positive WAR; Stults does the same thing almost and his WAR is 1.2 lower. Must be a different time.

    These guys really must have been snakebit by their offense almost every game. Of course, that's what a lot of people expect to happen to the Braves this year. But as you can see, there is some hope they can still keep it together. Teheran and Wood can pitch like aces and Miller has time to show the Braves they were right in choosing him to trade for Heyward. Cahill is a huge project; actually looking forward to see what the Braves see in him. It is quite possible the Braves, even with this bunch, can maintain the production that their top staff did last year.

    Bullpen

    1988
    Bruce Sutter: 1-4, 4.76 ERA, 45.1 IP, 49 H, 25 R, 24 ER, 11 BB, 40 K, 14 SV, 1.324 WHIP, 78 ERA+, -0.4 WAR
    Charlie Puleo: 5-5, 3.47 ERA, 106.1 IP, 101 H, 46 R, 41 ER, 47 BB, 70 K, 1 SV, 1.392 WHIP, 106 ERA+, 1.3 WAR
    Jose Alvarez: 5-6, 2.99 ERA, 102.1 IP, 88 H, 34 R, 34 ER, 53 BB, 81 K, 3 SV, 1.378 WHIP, 123 ERA+, 2.5 WAR
    Paul Assenmacher: 8-7, 3.06 ERA, 79.1 IP, 72 H, 28 R, 27 ER, 32 BB, 71 K, 5 SV, 1.311 WHIP, 120 ERA+, 1.9 WAR
    Jim Acker: 0-4, 4.71 ERA, 42.0 IP, 45 H, 26 R, 22 ER, 14 BB, 25 K, 0 SV, 1.405 WHIP, 78 ERA+, -0.3 WAR
    Juan Eichelberger: 2-0, 3.86 ERA, 37.1 IP, 44 H, 19 R, 16 ER, 10 BB, 13 K, 1.446 WHIP, 96 ERA+, 0.1 WAR
    Joe Boever: 0-2, 1.77 ERA, 20.1 IP, 12 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 1 BB, 7 K, 0.639 WHIP, 211 ERA+, 0.9 WAR
    Ed Olwine: 0-0, 6.75 ERA, 18.2 IP, 22 H, 15 R, 14 ER, 4 BB, 5 K, 1.393 WHIP, 55 ERA+, -0.5 WAR
    German Jimenez: 1-6, 5.01 ERA, 55.2 IP, 65 H, 39 R, 31 ER, 12 BB, 26 K, 1.383 WHIP, 74 ERA+ -0.6 WAR

    2015
    Craig Kimbrel: 0-3, 1.61 ERA, 61.2 IP, 30 H, 13 R, 11 ER, 26 BB, 95 K, 0.908 WHIP, 227 ERA+, 2.5 WAR
    Jim Johnson: 5-2, 7.09 ERA, 53.1 IP, 69 H, 46 R, 42 ER, 35 BB, 42 K, 1.950 WHIP, 54 ERA+, -0.4 WAR
    Jason Grilli: 1-5, 4.00 ERA, 54 IP, 51 H, 26 R, 24 ER, 21 BB, 57 K, 1.333 WHIP, 91 ERA+, 0.1 WAR
    Luis Avilan: 4-1, 4.57 ERA, 43.1 IP, 47 H, 22 R, 2 ER, 21 BB, 25 K, 1.569 WHIP, 80 ERA+, -0.2 WAR
    Juan Jaime: 0-0, 5.84 ERA, 12.1 IP, 14 H, 8 R, 8 ER, 9 BB, 18 K, 1.865 WHIP, 64 ERA+, -0.2 WAR
    Mike Foltynewicz: 0-1, 5.30 ERA, 18.2 IP, 23 H, 11 R, 11 ER, 7 BB, 14 K, 1.607 WHIP, 75 ERA+, -0.1 WAR
    Andrew McKirahan: Minors
    Cody Martin: Minors

    More evidence of a different time. Alvarez, Assenmacher and Puleo piling up so much WAR because they pitched decently out of the pen for 290 innings combined (of course, they HAD to do it, but nevertheless, it's an impressive feat.) This year was the unfortunate end for Bruce Sutter; he tried to pitch after missing the 1987 season. Boever, after pitching sparingly for four years, was given he closer's role in 1989 and he just flat out bombed in the role.

    I'm actually confident the Braves can get production out of Grilli and Johnson, which means to me what they have to do is get results out of Avilan and McKirahan. Juan Jaime needs to build on his good work to be a good go-to guy for the Braves.

    So yeah, as you guys can guess, I don't think the team is as bad as the 1988 Braves, a squad which was last or next to last in many categories in the National League, both hitting AND pitching. Like our modern Braves, they were bad in strikeouts too (fourth in the league). Being better than 54 wins is easy, of course, but I guess people are looking at 66-70 wins as the range that this years Braves are going to reach. I just don't believe that.
    Last edited by SamtheBravesFan; 04-03-2015, 08:52 PM.
    46 wins to match last year's total

  • #2
    Pete Smith had excellent stuff. If you look at his game logs, he pitched some terrific games that season. He won five games...three of them were shutouts. With that offense, that's about what he had to do to win.
    3 6 10 21 29 31 35 41 42 44 47

    "All of which makes perfect sense on paper, unless you have actually at any time in your life watched baseball being played." - The Commissioner

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    • #3
      Smith pitched 190 innings at a league-average RA+. That would be worth about 2 WAR with no other context. Smith also pitched with a terrible defense behind him and in an extreme hitter's park in a league with a favorable runs to wins conversion (low run scoring environment). 3.3 WAR looks about right.
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      • #4
        Originally posted by Bothrops Atrox View Post
        Smith pitched 190 innings at a league-average RA+. That would be worth about 2 WAR with no other context. Smith also pitched with a terrible defense behind him and in an extreme hitter's park in a league with a favorable runs to wins conversion (low run scoring environment). 3.3 WAR looks about right.
        Okay okay, it just looked a little goofy to me. :P I appreciate the help of course!

        Smith certainly did pitch pretty well that year. What I did was just look at the basic stat lines for this comparison.
        Last edited by SamtheBravesFan; 04-04-2015, 08:23 AM.
        46 wins to match last year's total

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        • #5
          No harm done. I just always really liked him and knew he had terrific stuff. Absent injuries, he could have been like he was down the stretch in '92 for a longer term.
          3 6 10 21 29 31 35 41 42 44 47

          "All of which makes perfect sense on paper, unless you have actually at any time in your life watched baseball being played." - The Commissioner

          Comment


          • #6
            At least I caught that the three relievers were able to pile up so much WAR because they had to pitch a lot. I apologize that I can't really offer too much of an opinion on this team as this was slightly before my time as a fan.
            46 wins to match last year's total

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