Life outside of Atlanta continues to be cruel for the Braves
After the Braves lost yet another road game to conclude this past weekend’s three-game series against the Phillies on Sunday, I asked Fredi Gonzalez and some of his players if they had a theory to explain why they have produced such contrasting results at home and on the road for most of this season.
“I’ve got my own ideas and theories,” Kris Medlen said. “It’s just one of those things. It’s baseball.”
Maybe Medlen will eventually elaborate on these “ideas” and “theories” he has developed. But for now, it seems like most of us are baffled by this trend that has truly become one of those oddities often encountered during a long baseball season.
Since winning each of their first seven road games this year, the Braves have lost 25 of the 39 that have followed. During this same stretch that dates back to an April 19 loss in Pittsburgh, they have won 23 of the 34 games played at Turner Field.
“I don’t have any theory on it other than you hit first on the road and wear a different color uniform,” Gonzalez said. “Other than that, maybe it’s just one of those things. When you look at the stats packs and sometimes on Wednesdays we don’t play well or on Wednesdays or that kind of stuff. Maybe the second half of the season we’ll start playing better. To win divisions and to win championships, championship teams have to play well both at home and on the road.”
Considering how bad they have been on the road for more than two months, the Braves are quite fortunate to still have a four-game lead over the second-place Nationals in the National League East race. Their first-place status has come as a result of the fact that they have won 21 of the 29 games played in Atlanta dating back to May 5. During this same stretch, they have lost 18 of 30 on the road.
“I can’t put my finger on it,” Brian McCann said. “We’ve played really good baseball at home and obviously we need to start playing better on the road. But I don’t think there is one thing I can point to.”
Fortunately the baseball world allows us a chance to attempt to explain the unexplainable through numbers. But as you will see, a look at the splits produced since the 13-2 start are as contrasting as the team’s record.
Since the road woes began on April 19, the Braves have produced a slash line of .240/.310/.392 (batting average/ on-base percentage/slugging percentage) and averaged 3.9 runs per game. Their pitchers have compiled a 4.46 ERA during this 39-game stretch.
During the home games played in this same span, the Braves have produced a slash line of .262/.342/.413 and averaged 4.6 runs per game. Their pitchers have compiled a 2.26 ERA during this 34-game stretch.
It is interesting to look at the difference in the home/road OPS numbers produced by Braves players over the course of the past 73 games (dating back to April 19):
Freddie Freeman .974
Brian McCann .930
Chris Johnson .821
Jason Heyward .727
B.J. Upton .700
Andrelton Simmons .669
Dan Uggla .630
Justin Upton .523
Justin Upton .816
Chris Johnson .782
B.J. Upton .450
So Uggla and Justin Upton rank as the least productive offensive contributors at home and the two most productive contributors on the road during this span. McCann is has been consistently great both at home and on the road. The splits produced by Heyward, Johnson and Simmons are also pretty consistent.
These split contrasts are not restricted to the offensive end. Here is a look at the home/road ERAs produced by the starting pitchers during this same span.
Julio Teheran 1.79
Paul Maholm 2.20
Tim Hudson 2.52
Mike Minor 4.30
Minor will look to extend his road success when the Braves open a three-game series tonight at Marlins Park, which is where the Braves claimed the first of those seven straight road wins to open the season.
If this week’s return to Miami allows the Braves to end their frustrating road woes, maybe Medlen will be willing to expound on his theories. But for now, we’re all left to attempt to explain the unexplainable.