We are only a month into the 2023 season, but it looks like the Atlanta Braves should be a playoff team, yet again. It might seem too early to make any firm assumptions – just look at last season’s final three months – but barring unforeseen additional injuries (or other issues), the Braves and post-season baseball should be peanut butter and jelly again come October.
But what if you could be sure about the outcome of this 2023 season? What if this no-doubt-about-it projection is done in a way statistical analysis and top-secret, high-level intellectual capitulation can’t question?
What if we asked the Battery Power Almanac?
The what, you say?
You know the Farmers’ Almanac, right? It’s the annual periodical that has been in publication for more than 200 years. One of the things it is – and was – most known for was its long-range weather predictions and prognostications. While its methodology is secretive, and its accuracy arguable, one of the factors it likely considers is historical performance. Analog in a world of digital, so to speak.
For the Battery Power Almanac (BPA, for short), we’ll read some Ponce magnolia leaves, squint hard at moon rings, meditate while focusing on the beard of Gene Garber, do some super-secret-stuff-we-can’t-tell-you-about-it-because-Slugworth-might-try-to-steal-the-formula-and-he-works-for-the-Padres-now-because-they-haveseemingly-signed-everyone, and look at each season from the pasts 40 years that ended with the number “3” to predict key outcomes for this season.
Disclaimer: Relax, it’s cool. We are just having some fun here. Obviously, the performance of former players who are now 70-years old (or older) have absolutely nothing to do with the 2023 Braves’ team (unless they are coaches, mentors, or are in some other way directly or indirectly associated with the players or organization). That is, unless it does ...
A 97-Win Season is a Given
Starting with the 1983 season, the average win total for Atlanta has 97.25 wins in the past four “3” seasons. Given that Atlanta is on a 100+ win pace at the time of this writing, ye ol’ BPA seems to be on to something.
In trying to count Magnolia buds not yet bloomed, and the associated leaves, we kept losing focus somewhere between 95 and 100, which seems like a supportive omen.
Here’s the win totals that made up that 97-win average:
Fantastic regular seasons, for sure. But what does this tell us about the Braves playoff chances?
Playoffs Are Also a Given
The Braves won their Division in three of the four qualifying season, winning the NL West once and the NL East twice. The only season they didn’t – 1983 – they finished second in the NL West (only three games out of first) but with the third best record in the National League.
There were obviously no Wild Cards in 1983, but if there were, the Braves would have been one.
And you know what? There were four rings around the moon, four nights ago.
Unfortunately, No World Series
Of the three playoff seasons, only the 1993 team made it to the NLCS, before being dispatched by the eventual World Series-losing Phillies. The 2003 Braves lost to the Cubs in the NLDS and the 2013 Fightin’ Fredi’s lost to the Dodgers, also in the NLDS.
Hopefully a loss to Dansby’s forever home team or the LA Best Friends team of Chuck Taylor and TRENT? - no, sorry, Freddie Freeman and Jason Heyward - is not in the cards because if they do, then BPA, you might get used the way Sears catalogs were used way back in the day.
The Braves still have an Uncle Joe, a Charlie, at more than a few buckets, so that golden ticket to the World Series might not be totally out of the question. Even BPA can be wrong every now-and-again.
A Quintet of All-Stars
Regardless of how you feel about the All-Star Game, the more Braves players that make the team, the better. Here again the BPA predicts good news for you and your Summer crops … wait, no … for your Mid-Summer Classic.
The past four qualifying seasons have yielded an average of 4.75 All-Stars, which means you can expect five 2023 Braves to make the All-Star team this year.
Here’s a look at each year’s selections:
1983: Pascual Perez (P), Glenn Hubbard (2B), Bruuuuuuuuuuuuce Benedict (C), Dale Murphy (CF)*
1993: John Smoltz (P), Tom Glavine (P), Steve Avery (P), Jeff Blauser (SS), David Justice (RF)*
2003: John Smoltz (P), Russ Ortiz (P), Andruw Jones (CF), Marcus Giles (2B), Rafael Furcal (SS), Gary Sheffield (RF)*, Javy Lopez (C)*
2013: Brian McCann (C), Craig Kimbrel (P), Freddie Freeman (1B)
*-All-Star Game Starters
Based on the positions selected, BPA projects good news for Sean Murphy, since three times a catcher made the All-Star Game.
Furthermore, Ronald Acuna, Jr. will be lacing them up at the ASG - maybe even as a starter. Max Fried will probably join then; and Spencer Strider, might, too. If Ozzie Albies can find some consistency maybe he will join his teammate, or maybe Vaughn Grissom plays out of his mind into July, unless Orlando Arica returns and pick-up where he left off.
The BPA forecast calls for low-lying fog around the time the announcements are made, so the visibility if poor on the middle infield. It’s all very confusing.
The bad news?
BPA is sure that Austin Riley can go ahead and make vacation plans because he has no chance of being an All-Star this season, in large part because no third baseman did so.
Hogwash, I say. #AustinRileyASGMVP if Twitter is still a thing by July.
If you are the wagering sort, then you’ll want to definitely take this information into extreme consideration. Take BPA’s projection and retire early!
Actually, you know what, don’t. I mean, you do you, but don’t.
Cy Fried? Cy Strider?
Let’s start with the National League Cy Young and see what the BPA says. The Braves will definitely have a pitcher finish in the top four in the NL Cy Young award.
That’s not even the best news, we might even see a winner this season. Fried? Strider? Hmm …
1983: Craig McMurtry (7th)
1993: Greg Maddux (WINNER), Tom Glavine (3rd)
2003: Russ Ortiz (4th)
2013: Craig Kimbrel (4th)
Bryce Elder isn’t a rookie (see below), but him finishing 7th in the Cy Young award voting would line up with McMurtry. Ditto Wright and Ortiz.
Rookie of the Year Shocker
You know that whole thing about the Farmers’ Almanac sometimes not being exactly accurate? I think our BPA might need a recalibration, because it’s telling us that Atlanta will most likely have a high-ranking finisher in the ROY vote this year.
Those Braves fans that seem to think Elder and Vaugn Grissom are still rookies are as confused as the BPA is. Here’s the history:
1983: Craig McMurtry (2nd)
1993: Greg McMichael (2nd)
2013: Julio Teheran (3rd), Evan Gattis (7th)
As it looks now, the Braves don’t have a qualifying rookie, so someone is going to come-up and set the world on fire, Charlie Thomas style. But who? Based on the BPA, it might be a pitcher.
If you are planning on having an outdoor BBQ to celebrate Atlanta’s 2023 MVP vote-getters, you may want to go ahead and start buying all the fixin’s now - and maybe get a second mortgage - because it’s going to be a big spread.
BPA thinks we might see five Braves pick-up votes from the writer’s this season. Like with the Cy Young Award, we might even see an NL MVP winner this season. Look at this list:
1983: Dale Murphy (WINNER), Rafael Ramirez (16th), Bob Horner (21st)
1993: David Justice (3rd), Ron Gant (5th), Greg Maddux (13th), Jeff Blauser (16th), Tom Glavine (24th)
2003: Gary Sheffield (3rd), Javy Lopez (5th), Andruw Jones (13th), Marcus Giles (18th), John Smoltz (18th), Chipper Jones (25th), Russ Ortiz (27th), Rafael Furcal (33rd)
2013: Freddie Freeman (5th), Craig Kimbrel (11th), Andrelton Simmons (14th)
That 2003 team, though.
Top of the Crops
Who does the BPA soothsay the top pitcher and position player be for the Braves this season? Using just the bWAR methodology - which some would argue is as accurate as the Farmer’s Almanac - either Ozzie Albies is going to catch fire or Ronald Acuna, Jr. will lead the pack of position players this year. Pick your poison with Max Fried or Spencer Strider for pitchers.
1983: Dale Murphy (7.1 bWAR), Craig McMurtry (4.7 bWAR)
1993: Ron Gant, Fox 5 Altanta (6.5 bWAR), Greg Maddux (5.7 bWAR)
2003: Marcus Giles (7.9 bWAR), John Smoltz, Russ Ortiz (3.2 bWAR)
2013: Andrelton Simmons (5.8 bWAR), Julio Teheran (3.4 bWAR)
Three is the Magic Number
All kidding aside, holy moly, the 1993, 2003, and 2013 teams. If the 2023 Braves can come close to those teams, we might be looking at having a “best regular season team of the decade” conversation seven years from now.
The 1993 pitching staff was the best in the National League and while the 2013 and 2003 staffs weren’t quite as good, the ’13 staff was still one of the best in the league.
The 1993 team had four starters make 35 or more starts – that would be the icons Greg Maddux, John Smoltz, Tom Glavine and Steve Avery – with only two other pitchers making starts. The staff, as a whole, had an ERA of 3.14 and a WHIP of 1.221. Somewhat famously, the team only used 13 pitchers all season – with one of those being Pedro Borbon, Jr., who only pitched in three games.
The 2003 team had similar stability to the ‘93 team, with five pitchers starting 29 games or more, and only three starts, combined, made by two additional pitchers. As a whole, that staff only used 17 pitchers, with Joe Dawley’s five games being the fewest. Although it was stable, the rotation was average with the staff ending up in the lower-half of the NL in ERA. They did finish second in saves with John Smoltz picking up 45.
The 2013 pitching staff was much better that you probably remember, with Mike Minor, Kris Medlen and Julio Teheran each starting 30 or more game with an ERA of 3.21 or better. The bullpen was lights-out, with Craig Kimbrel collecting 50 saves with an ERA+ of an absurd 311. The team got career years out of journeymen Luis Avilan, David Carpenter and the late Anthony Varvaro. Avilan and Carpenter each had a WHIP under 1.00 and an ERA+ north of 200.
The 1983 pitching staff led the NL with saves, but was otherwise middling-to-worse, with only three pitchers starting 33 games or more. After rookie sensation Craig McMurtry, Pascual Perez and Hall of Famer Phil Niekro, the team had three pitchers start 15 or 16 games (Ken Dayley, Rick Camp and Pete Falcone) and four others make starts. The bullpen was led by Steve Bedrosian who pitched 120 innings (and made a single start) while leading the team in saves. But it was Terry Forster who had the best season for the Braves’ relief corps, as he pitched to a 181 ERA+ and a 1.147 WHIP across 79.1 innings in 56 games, collected 13 saves along the way.
Offensively, it was a similar story from those three playoff teams.
The 1993 offense led the NL in home runs with Dave Justice hitting 40 round-trippers, followed by Ron Gant’s 36, and trade-deadline pick-up Fred McGriff’s 19. The team finished third in the league in walks, with contract-year Jeff Blauser leading the team with 85, followed closely by Justice, Gant, Mark Lemke and Otis Nixon, who all walked more than 60 times.
Have mercy, the 2003 Braves were special, offensively. They led the NL in runs, hits, home runs, batting average, slugging percentage, OPS and total bases. Gary Sheffield, Javy Lopez and Andruw Jones all hit 36 or more home runs, and those three plus Chipper Jones drove in more than 100 runs. Sheffield, both Joneses, Marcus Giles and Rafael Furcal all scored more than 100 runs. Jovy Lopez crossed-the-plate 89 times and he only appeared in 129 games.
The 2013 was as sneak-good offensively as it was pitching-wise. The team led the NL in home runs and finished second in slugging percentage and walks. Similar to the ’03 team was the distribution of power with five Braves hitting 20+ home runs, although Justin Upton led the team with only 27. Three other players hit 12 or more home runs. It was a different era in baseball, with power down, as the ’03 team hit 55 more home runs than the ’13 team.
No disrespect to the 1983 team, who did lead the NL in runs scored, batting average, on-base percent and OPS - and finished fourth in home runs – but the early ‘80s were drastically different. That team did have four qualifying batters hit between .303 and .297: Bob Horner, Dale Murphy, Bruce Benedict and Rafael Ramirez. Murphy powered 36 homeruns with Horner and Chris Chambliss each hitting 20 home runs.
In the early stages of the 2023 season, the team’s pitching has statistically been better than the offense even with some struggles in the bullpen. Injuries and a lead weight parading as a designated hitter have hampered the team offensively, but thus far it looks like BPA may be more correct than it is incorrect.
Don’t leave the strength of BPA to chance. Spend your post-game and off-days in calm meditation focusing on the facial hair of Gene Garber, Rick Camp, Steve Bedrosian, Al Hrabosky, or any other of your favorite early-’80’s Braves relievers.