Okay, so I know this kind of seems like bad timing, you know, considering the Braves are playing great baseball the past five games and have just crushed two playoff contenders. But yesterday a tweet by the great Mark Bowman caught my eye.
Remember a few years ago when one of the biggest issues many had with the Braves offense was that they were too lefty heavy? I always stated, whether it was here or at Capital Avenue Club or even at my old old blog the Bravesologist (what a terrible name), that being lefty heavy is a good thing. Ideally, you want your lineup to be lefty heavy and your rotation to be righty heavy. The reason being that there are more right-handed throwers and right-handed batters in the league than lefties. So, if you have lefty bats facing a lot of right-handed pitchers, that's good. Similarly, if you have right-handed pitchers facing a lot of right-handed batters, which there are more of than lefties, that's also good.
Unfortunately with the departure of Brian McCann, the Braves entered the season with only two left-handed bats in the every day lineup. So, what has that result led to?
The Braves have a 109 wRC+ against left-handed pitching and an 87 wRC+ against right-handed pitching. It looks like the lineup should be good, with a solid amount of talent across the diamond, but one of the biggest issues the team has had is being too righty heavy in the lineup.
On top of being too righty heavy, this year the Braves have unfortunately been unlucky enough to see the fewest left-handed starters in the game. Additionally, since they had only two lefty regulars for most of the season, opposing managers seldom used lefty relievers to face any of the Braves right-handed bats late in games.
Against righties, Freddie Freeman, Jason Heyward, Justin Upton, and Evan Gattis are the only players with a minimum of 50 plate appearances to be better than league average (a wRC+ > 100) against right-handed pitchers.
Against lefties, Evan Gattis, Justin Upton, and Chris Johnson all have a greater than 198 wRC+. Additionally, three of the other five players to have 50 plate appearances against lefties this season have a wRC+ above 100. The only ones who do not are B.J. Upton and Jason Heyward.
It may sound like something trivial, but this was a concern of mine entering the season. I wish I had monitored it a bit more closely throughout the season, but last night's tweet by Bowman sparked my interest in delving deeper. It should be no surprise that the Braves bashed a quality lefty last night, since they've been doing that for most of the season. Unfortunately, there is not much of a remedy for this issue. The Braves will keep putting the same lineup out there, and they simply have to hope their right-handed bats step up more than they have so far against same handed pitching. If they don't, an October on the golf course is a pretty likely outcome.