Braves make strides in post-deadline ZiPS projections

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It may surprise you, but the Braves did really well during this year’s MLB trade deadline. According to ZiPS at FanGraphs, Atlanta experienced the second-largest bump in its overall playoff chances, going from 11.4% up to 18.1% immediately following the team’s many trades, a positive difference only bested by the Yankees who went from 36.4% to 45.1%.

MLB’s Five Biggest Improvers Post-deadline (ZiPS)

  1. Yankees — +8.7%
  2. Braves — +6.7%
  3. Brewers — +2.0%
  4. Phillies — +1.7%
  5. Blue Jays — +1.6%

Now, obviously playoff probabilities vary rather widely among the five teams listed above. For example, the Bombers are now approaching a 50/50 shot according to ZiPS (45.1% to be exact), and Milwaukee is essentially a lock now at 93.8%. On paper, there are still numerous teams that are in a much better place than Atlanta, in terms of playoff odds, but it is comforting to know that the Braves were one of only two teams to experience at least a 5% positive change in its playoff probability. At this rate, any positive is much appreciated!

As Dan Szymborski rightfully expressed in his ZiPS update at FanGraphs on Monday, the Braves didn’t go out and get any superstars on deadline day, and the impact is pretty limited when looking at each of the team’s additions individually. However, as a whole, GM Alex Anthopoulos did a wonderful job at addressing obvious weaknesses in the outfield, and even more importantly, reinforcing a rather thin bullpen.

In regards to the outfield, a part of the roster decimated by Marcell Ozuna’s absence and the season-ending injury to superstar Ronald Acuna Jr., the improvements are staggering. Using each player’s rest-of-season ZiPS projections for 2021, here’s a comparison between the old Braves outfield and the new one. You’ll notice, just the depth alone has drastically improved, hence the seven players now compared to just five.


OLD Braves outfield (pre-All Star)

Ehire Adrianza 93 PA, 2 HR, 90 wRC+, 0 WAR

Orlando Arcia 133 PA, 3 HR, 80 wRC+, 0.1 WAR

Guillermo Heredia 119 PA, 3 HR, 89 wRC+, 0.1 WAR

Ender Inciarte 129 PA, 2 HR, 82 wRC+, 0.3 WAR

Abraham Almonte 100 PA, 3 HR, 96 wRC+, -0.1 WAR

Total – 574 PA, 13 HR, 87 wRC+, 0.4 WAR


NEW Braves outfield (post-trade deadline)

Adam Duvall 174 PA, 10 HR, 98 wRC+, 0.6 WAR

Eddie Rosario 206 PA, 9 HR, 108 wRC+, 0.7 WAR

Jorge Soler 182 PA, 10 HR, 111 wRC+, 0.3 WAR

Joc Pederson 159 PA, 7 HR, 108 wRC+, 0.5 WAR

Guillermo Heredia – 119 PA, 3 HR, 89 wRC+, 0.1 WAR

Abraham Almonte – 100 PA, 3 HR, 96 wRC+, -0.1 WAR

Ehire Adrianza – 93 PA, 2 HR, 90 wRC+, 0 WAR

Total – 1,033 PA, 44 HR, 100 wRC+, 2.1 WAR


Then there’s the bullpen addition in right-hander Richard Rodríguez, who was nearly unhittable while with the Pirates this season. Simply put, Rodríguez should insert himself into the Braves set-up role, and best of all, he’ll essentially move every Atlanta reliever down a notch on the leverage ladder, which alone should result in better matchups for manager Brian Snitker to exploit. Even more than Rodríguez’s stingy 2.68 ERA and 3.04 FIP, the 31-year-old has allowed just two homers all year in a span of 40.1 innings. Adding one reliever may not seem like much, but it’s less about the actual addition itself and more about the overall impact that one pitcher has on the entire bullpen.

Of course, all of these much-needed adds by Anthopoulos is just moot if the Braves fail to get themselves out of this win-loss-win-loss pattern they seem to have gotten stuck in the last several weeks. The team has struggled to get on any type of winning streak all year, but here lately, Atlanta literally cannot break the cycle; since July 17, a span that’s lasted 16 games now, the Braves have followed up every single win with a loss, making it extremely frustrating to watch. At 52-54 overall and in third-place in the NL East, somehow Atlanta is still only four games back in the division. Although with roughly 65% of the 2021 regular season already in the books, time is quickly running out for the team to get on some kind of streak. Following Sunday’s loss to the Brewers, the Braves playoff odds sat at 15.1% (per FG), and its odds to win the East were at just 13.6%. Those aren’t exactly great chances, and those percentages will begin shrinking at an even faster rate until Atlanta starts stringing three and four wins together.

Regardless though, the team’s movement within the ZiPS playoff probability table (found here) does help to keep the faith, at least for time being. Given how badly this season has gone so far, there really hasn’t been many positive moments to feel good about, and sadly, if the Braves performance doesn’t change soon, that sentiment will only continue. But heading into the recent trade deadline, we all wanted Atlanta to do something to give the team a chance to make an improbable run at the postseason. Even if you don’t think Anthopoulos did enough, you have to agree with at least one thing: the team is better than it was this time last week. And for a fanbase that has been through hell this year, that’s about all we can really ask for right now. The Braves still have a chance.

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