There’s no sugar coating it. 4-11 is pretty bad, especially when your fan base was already hot with the front office after trading several fan favorites. With new shortstop Erick Aybar struggling, fans are already crying out against the trade that sent Andrelton Simmons to the Angels in November. With Olivera on paid administrative leave following a domestic dispute and Paco Rodriguez on the disabled list with Tommy John Surgery, fans are questioning the trade that sent Alex Wood to the Dodgers more than they had previously. Couple that with some members of the Atlanta media throwing fuel to the fire, it creates for some frustrated fans and a front office that looks inept. But don’t be fooled, Braves fans. Yes, the Braves are on pace to win 41 ballgames this year, but rest assured that they’ll will win more. Rest assured that this team will look very competitive in a short time.
The biggest reason for this is that the Braves first 15 games have been against brutally tough competition. For those of you unfamiliar with the SRS (Simple Rating System), let me explain this to you. For those that are educated in this metric, feel free to scroll down. SRS is pretty simple (pun intended) to understand. It takes the R_diff on the season (how many runs you have scored minus how many runs you have given up all divided by how many games you have played) and that is added to the SOS (strength of schedule). It’s a metric so easy, you can do it at home. Sure, this metric has its flaws, but it is pretty accurate a majority of the time.
The Braves currently have an SRS of -0.1, which is in a two-way tie for 19th in all of Major League Baseball. Yes, it’s early and there is plenty of time for that number to go up or down this season. The Braves have scored less runs than they have given up in 2016, but they have also played the toughest schedule in Major League Baseball. Check out the teams and their SRS
Washington Nathionals (six games) – 1.5 (3rd best mark in MLB)
St. Louis Cardinals (three games) – 2.2 (2nd best mark in MLB)
Miami Marlins (three games) – 0.4 (T-9th best mark in MLB)
Los Angeles Dodgers (three games) – 1.2 (4th best mark in MLB)
Seriously? All 15 games of the 2016 season have come against teams ranked inside the Top 10 in SRS and 12 of those games have come against teams inside the Top 4? That really helps explain the record of why this team looks to be as bad as it does, but it’s easily explainable. Are you ready for the real surprising stat from all of this? The Braves either held leads or were tied in the seventh inning or later in seven of their 11 losses. That’s seven games that could have been won had the bullpen not blown a lead or the offense pushed across an extra run. In 67 percent of its ballgames, Atlanta has held the lead or was tied in the seventh inning or later.
So what does that mean? It means this team is competitive, it just isn’t showing up in the win column yet. Just wait until this horrific part of the schedule is over and they get to play weaker teams. I’m willing to bet you’ll see a different ending than you have in the first few months of the season. Is this team going to the World Series? No, not this year. Are they going to the playoffs this year? No, probably not. Are they going to lose 121 games this year? No, definitely not. Don’t give up on this Braves team because it’s early and their record doesn’t tell the whole story.
So don’t give up on the Braves. Their record might be the worst in baseball, but their metrics say otherwise. Ask any team that they have played this year, and I guarantee that every single one will say something along the lines of, “That team is better than their record indicates.” Yes, they are.