Scores like 6-to-2, 3-to-2, 5-to-1, 7-to-4, 5-to-2, these were scores the Atlanta Braves were losing by last season, but this spring, these are the scores they're turning into wins. I continue to be amazed and baffled by the Braves tremendous record this spring (15-and-3), and I wonder if it will have any bearing on the regular season.
Consider that our two best hitters have not been in the lineup but for a couple of games -- Chipper Jones and Brian McCann have been off at the WBC. Consider that our number-2 starter, Javier Vazquez, only just returned from the WBC, making a start last night.
While there have been some good performances from Matt Diaz, Brandon Jones, and Jordan Schafer, there hasn't been any hitter who is breaking records (remember Andruw Jones' 10-homerun spring several years ago). The satisfying part about this team's offensive production is that it is spread around to just about everyone in the lineup -- the whole team is hitting well, and hitting when it counts -- likewise with the pitching.
We'd need more than two hands to count the number of Braves pitchers who have not surrendered a run this spring, and we'd need another two hands to count the pitchers who have ERA's under 3.00, but we wouldn't need more than two hands to count the number of homeruns our staff has allowed.
No, spring numbers don't count during the season, but they count on the mental side of the game. Ballplayers want to believe they can win, and whether they're winning in exhibition or during the regular season their confidence is boosted the more success they have.
This team had a trying off-season, and the players felt the ups and downs the same as the fans. To be able to come to spring training and put all of these new pieces together and have them work so well should give the team a great indication that they can continue this success during the regular season.
Good pitching and timely hitting. This was the hallmark of the great Atlanta Braves teams during their 14-consecutive division titles, and now it has returned to the organization. Let's hope it makes the trip north to Turner Field.