Congratulations, beleaguered Braves fans! After one of the most tumultuous seasons since the dark ol' days of the 1980s, you've made it to the final month of the season! You've survived blowouts, heartbreaks, walks, balks, and a seemingly endless stream of pitchers who wear numbers in the 60s range. You've finally made it to September, which means that there's only one final month left (and a few October games as well) of this before you can start dreaming about rooting for a team that might go .500 in 2016 and could be competitive in a brand new stadium in 2017! That's exciting, right?
But first, you've got to stick with this team through the end of the month. If you're reading this, then there's a good chance that you haven't bailed on the team like a lot of people have. Quite frankly, I don't blame those people. This team could make a seemingly sane man scream out "Hey look, I'm a table! A perfectly fine table! I am a wooden table!" with their play at times, so if anybody decided to bail and watch other sports like preseason football and...uh, well, that's about it, but I understand if anybody bailed. The point is that there's still a few reasons why you should tune in to the Braves for this final month. I know it'll be hard to watch the team in the state that it's in, but won't it be so much fun in 2017 to sit back and laugh about these dark days in 2015 while we celebrate becoming Kings of the Baseball World? Or at least a measly playoff victory?
Who will finish the season as the leader in batter fWAR?
Amazingly, despite the fact that he's had another rough season at the plate (amazingly, his slash line of .265/.331/.342 with 85 wRC+ is actually an improvement from last season. Way to go Kevin Seitzer!), Andrelton Simmons is still the team leader in fWAR among batters, with a total of 2.5. Simmons is still The Man when it comes to defense in Atlanta (he's among the league leaders in DRS, UZR, and UZR/150), which is probably why he's still having a somewhat positive season. That's an improvement from his 1.9 fWAR last season, so it's good to see that someone got something out of this wretched season. Meanwhile, Freddie Freeman is hot on his tails with a 2.3 fWAR. That's a big dropoff from the 4-win and 5-win seasons that Freddie compiled over the past two years, but injuries played a big role in curtailing his campaign. Plus, being one of the only consistent sources of power on the team is a heavy burden, so the fact that he's done this well is a bit of an achievement. So, will Andrelton manage to snatch the Braves' batters fWAR crown in 2015, or will Freddie Freeman take it for himself?
Will Shelby Miller win another game in 2015?
Meanwhile, the team leader in fWAR (3.2) is having a bit of a rough patch, himself. Shelby Miller's winless streak has reached "Undertaker at WrestleMania" status, in that it's becoming a bit of a legend around these parts. The streak reached 19 games on Monday night, and it's gotten to the point where the national media has labeled poor Shelby as baseball's unluckiest player. Anybody with a 2.56 ERA and a 3.25 FIP doesn't deserve this struggle, man. The good news is that Miller's plight has shone a bit of light on how ridiculous the pitcher win/loss stat is, but the bad news is that losses still suck, and Miller and the Braves had more than their fair share of those during this wretched run. However, it's got to end eventually. Shelby will have a few more starts this season, and the streak has got to end at some point. He's going to have his "Brock Lesnar-at-Wrestlemania 30" moment this season, and we'll celebrate like it's 1995. It's all we have at this point.
Will Hector Olivera show off his potential this month?
Hey, Hector Olivera finally made his major league debut last night! He went 0-4, but who cares! He's here! Now, I think it's pretty clear that we're probably not going to see Olivera light things up this year. Thanks to injury, the man is still in Spring Training mode, so the best approach here is patience. With that being said, it'll be hard to keep my patience as soon as he hits his first bomb of a home run. He's going to show flashes of potential, and it'll be fun to dream about what the Cuban third baseman could blossom into.
Can the Braves actually snatch the #1 overall draft pick in 2016?
Scott talked at length about the Braves having a shot at potentially grabbing the #1 draft pick in next year's Draft, but the fact that the Braves even have a shot at it is amazing. This team was 42-42 at one point, so the tank job that's happened here is actually quite impressive. Again, we've already talked at length about the Braves' chances at potentially making their way to the top of the draft board, but let's just appreciate the fact that we follow a sport that (sometimes rewards failure, and let's also be grateful that baseball doesn't do promotion or relegation. We dodged a bullet there, folks.
So, those are just a few reasons to stick around. If you've got any more reasons, then feel free to share them. If you think that I'm an idiot for sticking around while this team is currently burning to the ground in an epic tire fire, then you're probably right.