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07 Aug

The 1914 Braves – What Changed? (by AtlCrackers Fan)

Ed. note: to see the previous installment in the 1914 Braves saga, click here

From July 5 to August 4, the 1914 Boston Braves posted a 21-5 mark, a remarkable .808 winning percentage. But thanks to their poor start, this incredible stretch brought the Braves only 2 games above .500 and left them 7 ½ games behind the defending champion New York Giants. So what changed, propelling the team from worst to first in a half season?

The difference doesn’t appear to have been their hitting. Stallings increased his use of the stereotypical Deadball Era game tactics, the stolen base and sacrifice bunt. The Braves had stolen only 44 bags through July 4 but swiped another 33 in the next month, an increase from .67 to 1.6 per game. Sacrifice bunts similarly increased from 70 over the first 66 games to 42 over the next 26 games, from 1.06 per game to 1.62 per game.

But it didn’t make a major difference. The team’s batting average remained unchanged at .242, and runs scored per game increased just slightly, as the team had scored 3.6 runs per game through July 4 but improved to 3.8 runs per game during the subsequent month.

Some of the personnel changes, most of which occurred between June 27 and July 11, may have contributed to that modest improvement. Charlie Deal, with a .219 batting average, replaced third baseman Jack Martin, who was shipped out in July after posting a .212 average. Outfielders Wilson Collins (.257) and Jim Murray (.234) were replaced by Ted Cather (.226) and Josh Devore (.211) while Larry Gilbert (.286) played sparingly during the streak. Super utility player “Possum” Whitted (.229) represented an improvement over Oscar Dugey (.183).

More importantly, the team’s fielding improved dramatically. Boston averaged almost 1.8 errors a game through July 4, led by Rabbit Maranville’s 34 miscues. Fortunately, Maranville only booted seven more balls during the 26-game stretch immediately after July 4, and the team average dropped accordingly to 1.32 errors a game.

Unsurprisingly, the improved defense accompanied improved pitching. In 66 games through July 4, the staff had recorded 38 complete games and just a single shut-out. In the following 26 games, the staff threw 19 complete games and 8 shut-outs. The biggest single improvement came from a dramatic reduction in walks. The pitchers averaged 3.3 walks per game for the games through July 4, but only 2.5 per game afterwards. Similarly, strikeouts improved from 3.5 per game to 4.4 per game. The Braves did not have a bat breaking strikeout pitcher on the staff.

A combination of things changed, but the most prominent involved better defense, especially on the part of Maranville, and better pitching, primarily in reducing base on balls.

Still, no one would have guessed how the season would end.

23 Responses to “The 1914 Braves – What Changed? (by AtlCrackers Fan)”

  1. 1
    sansho1 Says:

    If Fredi is looking to take a lesson from our 1914 forebears, I hope he doesn’t read that part about stolen bases and sac bunts….

  2. 2
    Alex Remington (Another Alex R.) Says:

    In this offensive environment, stolen bases can be very useful at the margins. And we’ve probably lost at least half a win to our pitchers being unable to get sac bunts down.

    That said, everything else matters more. But considering how terrible our hitters are, every little bit helps.

  3. 3
    sansho1 Says:

    Rest in peace, joke.

    ATLCrackers, thanks for the ongoing series. If Samardzija hadn’t already run with the possum mascot idea for the A’s, I’d suggest it myself….

  4. 4
    Alex Remington (Another Alex R.) Says:

    Sorry about that. It was a good joke. But we could honestly use the help!

  5. 5
    sansho1 Says:

    Sure, sure, I’d love to see some better base stealers and sac bunters on the roster, stipulating that they also be good at the things that earn them their paychecks (sorry, Success…).

  6. 6
    krussell Says:

    So we’re kind of a mirror image of the 1914 season…? Hope not.

  7. 7
    Alex Remington (Another Alex R.) Says:

    Okay, so, should we go after Alex Rios?

    http://hardballtalk.nbcsports.com/2014/08/07/alex-rios-has-cleared-waivers/

  8. 8
    Alex Remington (Another Alex R.) Says:

    Oh, hell. Bryce Harper just won it with a walkoff in the 13th inning. 5-3, Nats.

  9. 9
    A.West Says:

    Well, at least nobody has to complain anymore about how dependent on homers the Braves are. They are safely in the bottom third of the National league in terms of home runs.

    With Harper winning the game with a HR instead of a single, steal, groundout to second, and sac fly, it should really hardly count as a win. Same for that Oakland A victory against the Braves. Take away the home runs, and they might not have even won!

    I sure miss those games last year where home runs led to actual runs being scored and games won. A .245 team batting average with low power doesn’t scream above average team. Pitching is decent but not outstanding.

    Is there some reason I should get my hopes up that something is going to get better? Most of these players seem to be playing as they really are. BJUP is just a year or two behind Uggla as a flunked baseball player. Heyward would be a decent player in CF, but is extremely flawed if being counted on as a “star” hitter. Regression regressed. FF is the most hopeful, but doesn’t have the power or people on base ahead of him to be a one-man wrecking ball. Seems like most of the minor league prospects have already arrived. And the organization have already spent a lot of their money on failures and injured people.

  10. 10
    ryan c Says:

    @4
    Combine that with a very poor bench, and it’s probably 3-4.

  11. 11
    ryan c Says:

    Peraza could be getting the call! He was pulled from tonight’s DH after going 2-4 in first game.

  12. 12
    sdp Says:

    Big Mark Bowman is shooting it down. Says it was just a routine double switch.

  13. 13
    ryan c Says:

    Nope…taken out as precautionary. Tweaked something.

  14. 14
    Smitty Says:

    @7
    I’d take Rios.

  15. 15
    One Eye Says:

    Biggest series of the season.

    3 wins – we’re back!
    2 wins – there’s still a chance!
    1 win – time to tank the rest of the season to get a better draft pick.
    0 wins – fire Fredi and Wren

  16. 16
    sdp Says:

    The way this team is playing, they could be swept by WAS, LA, and OAK. What are the odds? An 18-game losing streak.

  17. 17
    Johnny Says:

    1 win – do we play in the NBA now?

  18. 18
    Smitty Says:

    I think we will do well this weekend. We own the Nats.

  19. 19
    coop Says:

    Pray. Wait. See.

  20. 20
    csg Says:

    Ha, we own nobody at this point.

  21. 21
    Johnny Says:

    This is a great read:
    http://www.si.com/mlb/2014/08/07/atlanta-braves-slump-national-league-east-fredi-gonzalez

    It pretty much sums up the Braves.

  22. 22
    Johnny Says:

    I agree with the author. Bonafacio has to replace one of either Chris Johnson or BUpton becuase he sucks less than they do. I say BUpton if only because (arbitrary end points warning) CJ has done ok since the break. We’ll see if Fredi has the stones to do that.

  23. 23
    Alex Remington (Another Alex R.) Says:

    New thread.

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