Atlanta Braves: Should Offensive Approach Change?

Fulton County Stadium

Fulton County Stadium

The Atlanta Braves have been a highly successful organization  the past 20+ years.  Despite that success, I think it is legitimate to question their organizational approach towards offense.  Again.

Pitching and defense have always been the Braves number one priority.  They have done a great job with that philosophy, developing top pitchers in their minor league organization and stressing defensive fundamentals.   

Questioning the Braves offensive approach is not something new…

What I don’t understand is why the Braves continue to build the offense around the home run when Turner Field is not home run friendly.  Fan Graphs ranked Turner Field only the 19th best home run park in major league baseball in 2013.  I can understand why the Braves featured the home run when they played in Atlanta Fulton County Stadium, affectionately known back in the day as “The Launching Pad.”  But why now when Turner Field is not a home run friendly park?

Even when the Braves played at Fulton County Stadium during their run of Division Championships and featured the home run, they often were inept offensively in the playoffs.  Teams with great pitching and defense need offenses that are consistent, not explosive.  Home run hitting teams score runs in bunches and go through droughts.  Teams built around on base percentage and speed aren’t as explosive, but are more consistent.

I will be interested to see the dimensions of the new stadium.  If the Braves are married to the home run, then why play in a park that is not homer friendly?  Might as well bring in the fences and watch the baseballs fly out of there.

I’m also wondering this season if one or more of the Braves power bats may be the lure to bring in another starter or a guy who can get on base and steal.  With Jason Heyward, Justin Upton, Freddie Freeman, Andrelton Simmons, Dan Uggla and Chris Johnson, the Braves have more than enough power.  But they are lacking in some other important areas.

Is it time to get off the power trip?

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Jim has covered the Atlanta Braves since 2008 for local and national broadcast news organizations. He also appears regularly talking Braves baseball on WCCP-FM in Clemson, South Carolina, and the ESPN Radio affiliate, 1420 Sports in St. Augustine, Florida.

  • NorthAlabamaGM

    A mix is needed. Chris Johnson has yet to prove a power hitter so he fits as is. Prado fit as was (can you tell I am still not pleased with that move). Looking forward to see if La Stella can keep his same approach when he takes over second base and leadoff!

    • http://atlantabullpen.com/ Jim Hart

      Yeah, I’ve noticed you aren’t crazy about the Prado trade.. :)

  • Lee

    The Braves have done well as a power hitting team. However, to become great, they must improve their on base percentage, and greatly decrease their strikeout rate. Offense must become a priority, if the Braves want to establish an elite, contending franchise.

    • http://atlantabullpen.com/ Jim Hart

      The big question Lee, how do they improve their on base percentage and decrease their strikeout rate. The devil is in the details as the saying goes. Do the Braves have to make a couple trades to reshape the roster to improve in the areas you mentioned?

      • Lee

        Jim, I think they need to change their mentality when they approach the plate. Having power when needed is great, but being able to place the ball to different areas of the field is often more productive. I guess what I am saying is they must become more versatile offensive players. Even bunting needs improvement. If members of the current roster are unable to achieve this versatility (at least contacting the ball), then a couple trades should be in order.

        • http://atlantabullpen.com/ Jim Hart

          I agee Lee, not sure we will so those adjustments, though.

  • Mike Crowe

    Yes, it’s time to get off the power trip. I’ve had my fill of the Andruw Jones, Uggla, and Blouser before that types, who go up there swinging for the fences, pile up the strikeputs and kill rallies. It’s about pitching and defense, but being the Braves haven’t a dominating rotation anymore, you have to get on base and you have to have RBI hitters. Why Freddi wants to put the RBI hitters at the front of the lineup is a mystery to me. Anyway, I’ll take a Tony Gwynn over a Mark McGuire anyday, and it’s time to adjust the philosopy a bit. If I were building a team I would put all of my money in pitching and defense and contact hitters, and if speed never slumps then I want speed. As it is now however, you have a good team with good pitching and defense and some speed, just get rid of the wasted at bats, and we all know who that will be. This team has proven it can pitch and score runs, but to beat the Nats we’ll have to have consistant run production. Power doesn’t always give you that.

    • http://atlantabullpen.com/ Jim Hart

      Mike, I’d be curious as to what the Braves management has to say about their philosophy. Why they think power with minimal contact is the winning formula. I’m sure they would point out all the Division titles and playoff appearances they have made since 1991 as a reason to stay the course. What would you say to that?