Braves proving slightly more aggressive and efficient
Like it was far too early to panic back when the Braves lost the first four games of this season, it is still too early to get overly excited about what has transpired through this season’s first 20 games. But with 12 percent of the season complete, this year’s offense has already produced some of the confidence that last year’s version never provided.
The 13-7 record Braves carry into tonight’s matchup against the Pirates puts them five games ahead of last year’s pace and guarantees they will enter May with a winning record for the first time since 2007. That bunch went 84-78 and the 91-win, 2010 team went 9-14 in April. Just one of those necessary reminders to keep you grounded on April 28.
Taking a short trip down memory lane, the Braves were 8-12 through the first 20 games of 2011. Through this span, they produced a slash line of 230/.297/.375, 21 home runs and 3.5 runs per game.
This year’s bunch has scored 5.3 runs per games with an identical 21 home runs and a slash line of .267/.327/.418.
When the Braves ended their brief relationship with Larry Parrish in September, Braves general manager Frank Wren said that he wanted to see his hitters prove to be “tougher outs” than they had been in 2011. The Braves led the NL in on-base percentage in 2010 and then produced one of the senior circuit’s worst marks during Parrish’s lone season in Atlanta.
This year’s offense has not necessarily been that much “more disciplined” than last year’s group. With the current sample size, it seems more appropriate to now label them as being “more efficient” with their plate appearances.
Here is a comparison of statistics compiled by the 2011 and 2012 teams:
2011: 3.8 pitches per plate appearances, Pitches taken (53.6 percent) Pitches put in play (18.7 percent), First pitch swings (29 percent) Swings put in play (40.2 percent)
2012 3.8 pitches per plate appearances, Pitches taken (52.9 percent) Pitches put in play (19.2 percent), First pitch swings (31.2 percent) Swings put in play (40.8 percent)
These numbers show the Braves have been more aggressive as a whole. But Martin Prado’s numbers indicate he is actually showing a little more patience than he did during last year’s frustrating season.
Here is a comparison of Prado’s numbers
2011: 3.74 pitches per plate appearance, Pitches taken (58.1 percent), First pitch swings (11.7 percent), Missed swings (10.5 percent)
2012: 4.19 pitches per plate appearance, Pitches taken (61 percent), First pitch swings (8.2 percent), Missed swings (10.1 percent)
Prado has batted .267 with a .330 on-base percentage and .400 slugging percentage thus far this season. His on-base percentage and slugging percentage are better than last year’s marks. But with the small sample size compiled in 20 games, it’s seemingly more important to look at trends, like the fact that he has walked once every 10.6 plate appearances. Not an eye-popping number, but an improvement over the once every 17.4 plate appearances pace he set last year.
Heading down to the clubhouse now to check on Brian McCann’s status. Check braves.com and my Twitter feed @mlbbowman for updates.