Atlanta Braves: Since When Can Our Pitchers Not Hit?


I remember a time in Atlanta Braves history where I felt confident in our pitching staff’s ability to handle a bat.  Tom Glavine had a .189 Career Average, winning 4 Silver Slugger Awards as an Atlanta Brave.  He had 90 career RBI’s and 218 sacrifice bunts.  As a former big time hockey prospect coming out of high school, you could say that Glav could stickhandle very well because he’s an athlete.

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It didn’t begin and end with Tom Glavine either.  Greg Maddux had a .171 Career Average, 84 RBI’s, 180 sacrifice hits, and even 5 career homers.  John Smoltz could yield the lumber, too, with a .159 average, 5 career homers, 61 RBI’s, and 136 sacrifices.  Smoltz also won the 1997 Silver Slugger Award for NL pitchers.

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  • And it wasn’t just the big three that handled the bat well.  Former Atlanta Braves pitchers that weren’t complete liabilities at the plate include Mike Hampton, Kris Medlen, and Tim Hudson.  But now I look at the current Braves pitching staff and wonder why getting down bunts seems impossible.  You would think that to play in the National League, pitchers should at least understand the art of sacrifice bunting.  What has caused the decline in the Atlanta Braves’ pitchers’ approach in the batter’s box?

    If you look at the 2015 Braves pitchers, only Julio Teheran and Alex Wood are even having okay seasons as pitchers.  Teheran only has two hits and two RBI’s but has had seven sacrifice bunts.  So at least he’s making productive outs when he’s at the plate sometimes.  Wood surprisingly leads the staff with 5 hits, 4 RBI’s and a .161 average.  Yes, three of those hits came in one game off Washington Nationals RHP Jordan Zimmermann but Woody does have 5 sacrifices on the year, too.

    Then it starts to get bleak for the Braves pitchers.  While I do understand that only Teheran, Wood and Shelby Miller have been in the rotation all year, the Atlanta Braves need more productivity out of the ninth-hole guys if the team wants to manufacture runs.  So what is causing this?

    I know that other organizations do not value teaching pitchers to tread water in the batter’s box.  Look at the Chicago Cubs.  Joe Maddon doesn’t bunt and bats his pitchers eighth so that he can treat the nine-hole as a second leadoff spot.  Since so many Braves starters came from other organizations, Miller from St. Louis, Matt Wisler from San Diego, Mike Foltynewicz from AL Houston, no wonder why they can’t handle the bat.

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    I’m not saying that the Atlanta Braves need a Zack Greinke or a Madison Bumgarner kind of hitting pitcher to have offensive success.  But I expect that it is part of the Braves Way to have all the staff be able to lay down sacrifice bunts and not chase junk pitches out of the strike zone.  I sense that it is a work in progress for the staff.

    Look at Wood finally not looking terrified in the box.  Teheran more likely than not can give the Braves productive outs from the ninth spot.  I do sense that Miller, Wisler, Foltynewicz and others will grow in the Braves’ system and at least be able to sacrifice bunt by this time next year.  Or at least I hope so.  You have to play small ball if you’re conceding hitting home runs.  That means pitchers are part of the offense, too.

    Next: Chris Johnson: Running Out of Time in Atlanta?

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