It’s September now, and the Braves just did something that they haven’t done all season, and that’s to sweep a team at home. Mike Foltynewicz pitched well, and the Braves gave him plenty of run support thanks to a big fifth inning broke the game open for the Braves. Atlanta eventually beat the Padres 9-6, and made a little bit of history in the process.
The Braves have now scored at least seven runs in five consecutive home games for the first time since Aug.7-10, 1953.— Mark Bowman (@mlbbowman) September 1, 2016
The calendar turning to September means that it’s also time for roster expansion, and the Braves have taken advantage of this by bringing back a few familiar faces and bringing in a new player as well. Chris Withrow and A.J. Pierzynski are back on the active roster, and former first round pick and Georgia Tech pitcher Jed Bradley was called up to the big league squad. Meanwhile, Mallex Smith made a rehab start for the Mississippi Braves, and there’s a possibility that he could make a return to the bigs before the season ends.
Earlier this week, I pointed out that Freddie Freeman has been having a fantastic season, despite the fact that the 2016 Braves are the 2016 Braves. This isn’t exactly breaking news, but it is nice to see that he’s starting to get a bit more recognition outside of our Braves-centric circle. Bill Baer of Hardball Talk has noticed this.
No one’s really talking about how good of a season Freeman is having as far as I can tell. Granted, Kris Bryant and Corey Seager are having much better seasons and the NL MVP race will probably come down to them. Further, Freeman plays first base, where he has a lot of competition. Among first basemen, Joey Votto and Anthony Rizzo have hit slightly better, but everyone outside of Cincinnati appreciates how good Votto is and Rizzo has gotten tons of attention playing on the 85-47 Cubs, who have already wrapped up a postseason spot if you go by Baseball Prospectus. And Freeman plays on the 51-83 Braves, who are tanking in their final year at Turner Field.
But by WAR, Freeman is the sixth-most valuable player in the National League, tied — if you round to tenths — with Rockies third baseman Nolan Arenado at 4.6 according to FanGraphs.
In news that doesn’t really matter too much but is still kind of interesting, the Washington Nationals were recently asked about their experiences with hecklers. Eventually, the lightning rod known as Bryce Harper got to share his opinion, and depending on your point of view, Braves fans either got “glowing” or “negative” reviews from Washington’s superstar. In fact, Harper told Chase Hughes of CSN Mid-Atlantic that Atlanta fans have been tougher on him than the infamous Philly fans.
Harper, in fact, doesn't hear it much from Philly fans at all.
"More Atlanta than Philly. I don't get much in Philly, actually," he said. "I enjoy playing in Philly. I don't get much from Phillies fans going crazy. Of course, the Mets, the Dodgers, San Francisco."
When the Dodgers made the shocking move of demoting Yasiel Puig to their AAA-affiliate in Oklahoma City, a whole lot of people in the baseball world assumed that this was the end of the line for Puig as a member of the Dodgers. Indeed, he was even placed on revocable waivers and claimed as well, but the Dodgers decided against trading him. Instead, Los Angeles has decided not only to keep him in their organization, but he’ll more-than-likely be returning to their big league team as well. Go figure.
When the New York Yankees made the decision to be sellers at the trade deadline and began an aggressive youth movement, this was an assumption that they’d fall by the wayside. Instead, the Baby Bombers have actually been playing some really good baseball as of late and are currently only two-and-a-half games away from the second and final AL Wild Card spot. Their moves at and around the deadline have actually served as a shot in the arm for the Yankees, and it’s shocking considering that the Steinbrenner family actually didn’t want to go down this direction.
Each year, the Yankees, and especially ownership, have been hesitant to sell off assets and risk tossing away a season. Sometimes it works out (last year), and other times it doesn’t (2013 and 2014). The one thing fans can agree with, though, is that that can’t continue forever. It was even more apparent this year that the Yankees were going nowhere fast until things changed.
They did sell, and it has worked out even better than expected so far. The returns were more than fair, and the team’s hot stretch in August has pretty much erased the loss of immediate production in those trades. Gary Sanchez basically hitting like Babe Ruth for a month likely bests the median production of Andrew Miller, Aroldis Chapman, and Beltran combined.
The funny thing about this whole Sanchez ordeal is that it spins that Steinbrenner rhetoric on its head. Hal Steinbrenner did not want to sell until they were swept by the Rays, and he didn’t officially authorize the Carlos Beltran deal until 90 minutes before the deadline.