The Atlanta Braves bullpen has been a team strength the past few seasons, ranking high among all major league bullpens in most categories each year. What is exciting for Braves fans is that the 2013 Atlanta Braves bullpen may be the best we’ve seen in recent years.
Before we look at the Atlanta Braves 2013 bullpen, lets review recent seasons. ESPN.com has excellent stats that make it very easy to compare major league bullpens.
Last season the Braves bullpen pitched in 486 1/3 innings, that ranked fifteenth in the major leagues in total innings pitched. That surprised me, as it seemed that Braves manager, Fredi Gonzalez, went to his bullpen early and often. Fifteenth in innings pitched is a very comfortable number, as it indicates that Gonzalez utilized a valuable team strength, but didn’t overuse that asset.
The Atlanta Braves’ bullpen had a 2.76 earned run average in 2012, that ranked second in the major leagues, behind only Cincinnati. The Atlanta bullpen totaled 481 strikeouts, while yielding only 157 walks. That is better than a 3 to 1 strikeout to walk ratio, the second best ratio in the major leagues, best in the National League. The Braves WHIP (walks + hits/divided by innings pitched) was 1.19, tied for fourth in the major leagues, and best in the National League.
Virtually every major stat you look at that measures pitching, shows that the Atlanta Braves bullpen was outstanding in 2012.
ERA (earned run average) is a pitching stat that only tells a partial story, but for simplicity, lets use that stat to compare how the Braves bullpen has fared in recent seasons.
The 2011 Atlanta Braves bullpen led the majors in ERA at 3.03, in 2010 the Braves were third in the majors with a 3.11 ERA, in 2009 the Braves bullpen was sixth in the majors with a 3.68 ERA. That is four straight seasons that the Atlanta Braves bullpen was outstanding.
Hats off to Braves GM Frank Wren for keeping the Braves bullpen stocked with lives arms that know how to pitch, and to managers Bobby Cox and Fredi Gonzalez for knowing how to maximize the talent they have available.
In Part 2 on the Atlanta Braves bullpen I will take a close look at the 2013 edition, and give my analysis and breakdown.