One reason for optimism following the Braves slow start

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Just when you thought things were beginning to turn around following the Braves 0-4 start, they lose two in a row in heartbreaking fashion. On Sunday, it was the missed call at home plate in the ninth inning that cost Atlanta the game, and yesterday, their bullpen couldn’t hold onto a two-run lead in the eighth inning as they ended up falling in extras to the Marlins. These are the type of games the Braves just haven’t been losing over the last few seasons, which is concerning; however, considering how abysmal they’ve been at the plate, a 4-6 start isn’t all that bad.

2020 Offense vs. 2021 Offense

Last season, the Braves had arguably the best offense in baseball. They were second, behind only the Mets in batting average, second in runs scored, finishing just one run behind the Dodgers for first, first in on-base percentage, and first in OPS. It can be argued that because it was only a 60-game sample size, some regression was in line. We also have to take into account that there is no DH this season in the National League. But every NL team has to deal with that, and even with some negative regression, the Braves had one of the best offenses in baseball last season.

Fast forward to the first ten games of 2021, and Atlanta is among the worst offenses in baseball in nearly every category. They are 27th in batting average, 29th in on-base percentage, 21st in runs scored, and 19th in OPS. It’s also insane that nearly all of their offensive production is coming from one player.

Ronald Acuña is 17-44 on the season with four homers — good for a 1.447 OPS. No other starter on the Braves has an OPS higher than .754. Travis d’Arnaud is second on the team in hits with eight, and he’s the only other Braves starter with a batting average higher than .200. The heart of Atlanta’s order — Albies, Freeman, and Ozuna — is hitting .128, .143, and .139, respectively. The most offensive production from a player not named Acuña has actually come from Pablo Sandoval and Ehire Adrianza off the bench, and that was supposed to be the weakest aspect of the team.

However, some of the advanced stats — not all of them — do favor the Braves. They are below league average in wOBA and rank 23rd in wRC+, but they are first when it comes to hard hit % and average exit velocity. 

The reality is the Braves should be thankful they are 4-6 right now. They could very easily be 2-8 or worse at this point. However, there’s also no way they continue to slump like this. Eventually, these hard hit balls will result in hits, and when that happens, the wins should start to pile up.

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