General manager Frank Wren stated the goal this off-season was to make the Atlanta Braves younger and faster, and he clearly achieved that. In doing so, the Braves look to have one of the more potent National League lineups on paper.
It also brings a major concern – will the Braves get on base enough? Besides staying healthy, that question will be the biggest concern the Braves will have to deal with in the 2013 season.
Through 20 spring training games, the Braves sit in the bottom third in the MLB and middle of the pack in the National League with a .327 OBP. They also rank second in home runs (20) and fourth in RBIs (91).
Spring training stats will not truly reflect how the season will go as starters only play about half the games, and most teams have at least a player participating in the World Baseball Classic. However, this should be a good indicator of where the Braves will rank roughly in the National League in 2013.
Here’s what we know and can project on the Braves’ offense. In 2012, the Braves finished seventh in the National League in OBP (.320). The Braves lost their top three leaders in OBP from 2012 in Chipper Jones (.377), Martin Prado (.359) and Michael Bourn (.348). The Braves replaced them with Justin Upton (.355), B.J. Upton (.298) and Chris Johnson (.326)/Juan Francisco (.278).
It appears safe to say the Braves OBP will drop in 2013.
Why is that a big deal? In the last 10 years, only one team ranked in the bottom five of OBP and represented the National League in the World Series. Only three ranked in the bottom half of the National League. Getting on base at a low clip puts more pressure on an offense to be efficient when those opportunities come. Getting on base doesn’t count on the scoreboard, but it does increase those odds.
The Braves will likely have an up-and-down offense in 2013 due to their heavy reliance on power. Finding some sense of consistency in getting on base will go a long way in determining how consistent they can be on offense. The Braves finishing middle of the pack in the National League in OBP in 2013 would be huge for this offense. Finishing lower will mean up and down performances.
Either way, whether the team can keep the OBP at a respectable number will be worth monitoring during the 2013 season.