The Atlanta Braves (12-2) dropped their second game of the 2013 season with a 1-0 loss to the Kansas City Royals on Wednesday. It ended a 10-game winning streak going back to April 4 when Cliff Lee and the Philadelphia Phillies shut out the Braves 2-0.
When the Braves don’t score, they don’t win — a shocking revelation that’s true for 29 other teams in the MLB. The Braves were obviously held without a home run in their losses, something the team has relied heavily upon the first few weeks as they lead the majors with 25.
But another trend less obvious in their losses is they haven’t reached base via the walk. In 12 wins, the Braves have walked at least once except for their win against the Miami Marlins on April 8. On that night, Paul Maholm shut out the Marlins as the Braves managed just two runs in the victory.
This Braves lineup is dangerous and potent, and pitchers who give them a free pass are setting themselves up for failure. Putting guys on base does a couple things. First, it adds pressure on the pitcher to throw strikes with men on base. This leads to mistakes over the middle of the plate that batters can ambush.
Second, a pitcher’s pitch count elevates. Both Lee and Wade Davis went late in the game because they attacked the hitters and kept their pitch counts down. The Braves have taken advantage late in games against bullpens thus far in 2013. Drawing walks plays a large part in getting into the bullpen.
I’ve referenced in the past that the Braves on-base percentage being a key statistic in just how good this offense will be in 2013. Two weeks into the season, the Braves rank eighth in the National League with a .324 OBP, which has led to a good but inconsistent offense. Elevating into the top-three or five should lead to a consistently great offense.
Getting on base will be something to continue to monitor throughout the 2013 season.