The Braves less-than-stellar start to the season has some ready to jump off the sinking ship already. With a 1-5 start, Atlanta has not looked the part of a team ready to compete for anything resembling a wildcard berth.
On opening day, it was the bench and bullpen that left fans shaking their heads. In the past few games, it’s been a shaky defense and a failure to get clutch hits that have bemoaned supporters.
But after six games, there is no need to lose hope, as the franchise has not always gotten off to starts relative to how the team was ultimately left standing at the end of the road.
It’s time to cherry pick some numbers from past years to either reinforce belief that the season is a lost cause or leave the hopeful optimist (Author’s note: I firmly fall into this category, to a fault) living to believe another day.
Leaving aside the game that shall never be spoken of to conclude the 2012 season, the Braves got off a to a 1-4 start that year, before quickly rallying to win 10 of the next 11 games and get on a roll that propelled them through most of the summer, as they finished 94-68, four games behind the Washington Nationals in the NL East but enough for a wild card berth.
On the other side of the coin, the Bravos started the season on a five-game winning streak in 2015 and was at .500 over halfway through the year at 42-42, before some injuries and trades devastated the roster, as Atlanta limped home to a 67-95 job.
Fans still have fresh in their memory the train wreck that was the 2016 campaign, when the Braves stumbled to a 1-9 start out of the gates and were 9-29 before Fredi Gonzalez was replaced in the manager’s chair by Brian Snitker, and finished 68-93 after a strong final month.
In 2014, Atlanta got off to a rip-roaring 17-7 start and was in first place as late as July 20, before the season unraveled. In 2013, a 12-1 start ended up in a 96-66 season, and is the only time the Braves have won the division since 2005, the final year of the 14 consecutive division crowns.
2010 and 2011 are what you would consider good seasons on the surface, with 3-2 records after five games and 27 and 28 wins after 50 games, respectively. Both of those years ended with 89 and 91 victories, respectively, as well. The 2010 club was defeated in the NLDS by the Giants. The 2011, season, well, we won’t go there.
Dropping further back into the time machine, the 2003 version of the Braves — the last team to reach triple digit wins — started out with a sweep at the hands of the Montreal Expos and didn’t reach the .500 mark until 18 games into the season. But they finished 101-61 with one of the most prolific offenses in club history.
For one last reference, the 1995 team that won the World Series started 7-1 before dropping eight of the next 10. They easily righted the ship and finished 90-54, winning the division by 21 games.
All that to say, the 1-5 start is by no means reason to panic, but two Braves teams in the past decade have started with just one win in the first five games of the season. Last year was a sign of things to come, but the 2012 team turned things around quickly and did well.
Will this year’s team be like last year’s, like 2012, or somewhere in between?