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Braves in September

Posted By Jeff Zimmerman On September 29, 2011 @ 3:30 pm In Braves,Season Highlights,Today in FanGraphs | 19 Comments

Several reasons have floated around for the cause of the Braves’ historic collapse. Many people point to the horrible September that the Braves and their players experienced. Similar down months happened previously in the 2011 season, but went unnoticed due to the lack of playoff implications.

No Offense

The Braves offense was not a powerhouse over the entire season. They averaged just under four runs a game (3.96). It was 10th in the NL. While not great, it was even worse over the last month. They scored only 87 runs, or 3.22 runs per game. Now, which of the following slash lines led to the offensive collapse:

#1: 0.235/0.300/0.357
#2: 0.222/0.290/0.388

The first one is September, while the second is from June. Here are the actual results:

June: 17-9 record with 105 RS or 4.04 R/G
Sept.: 9-18 record with 87 RS or 3.22 R/G

Now taking it one step further, here are the expected number of runs scored using Tom Tango’s Morkov Run Expectancy Calculator for the two months:

June: 3.77 R/G or 98 total runs for the month
Sept: 3.60 R/G or 97 total runs for the month

The Braves had nearly the same offensive production in the two months. In June, they scored more runs than they should have. In September, they scored fewer than they should have. The lack of offensive production was not limited to just September for the Braves in 2011, but it will be the month remembered.

Craig Kimbrel Wearing Down

Craig Kimbrel did not have a good month (4.76 ERA, 3 Blown Saves) and people love to point it out. Again, guess which group of stats is his in September:

#1: 14.7 K/9, 5.3 BB/9, 1.43 WHIP, 2.37 FIP, 2.34 xFIP
#2: 15.9 K/9, 5.6 BB/9, 1.41 WHIP, 3.64 FIP, 2.12 xFIP

The FIP may give it away, but the first set of data is from May and the second one is from September. While most pitchers would take those numbers any day, they are near to, or worse than, his yearly numbers, as follow:

2011: 14.8 K/9, 3.7 BB/9, 1.04 WHIP, 1.52 FIP, 1.94 xFIP

The month of September was not unique for him. He maintained the same average fastball velocity across the season. If he was wearing down, there were no signs of it. If having a bad month means he was done, he should have been shutdown in May.

Conclusion

People are going to look back and remember the epic September collapse of the Braves. The reasons behind the collapse were spotlighted happening in the last month. They happened at other times during the year. The last month will unfortunately be the one cited.


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