The bad news: The Braves still aren’t hitting. Their team batting average is .232, second-worst in the National League. But to say they’re not hitting actually misleads. Because they actually are pretty good at putting the ball in play.
They’ve struck out only 208 times, which is the sixth-fewest among 16 NL clubs. They’ve walked 136 times, which leads the league. Their on-base percentage is .328, which is pretty darn good for a team batting .232. It’s what happens — or, put another way, what doesn’t happen — when they hit the ball that’s scary.
The Braves are next-to-last in the league in slugging percentage. They’re ahead of Houston, which is awful, and they’re quite a distance behind 14th-place Pittsburgh, which is Pittsburgh. Without making non-stathead’s eyes glaze over — too late, I fear — slugging percentage is useful for telling us how hard balls are being hit. And here are your Atlanta Braves: Twelfth in the league in doubles, last in triples, next-to-last in homers, next-to-last in extra-base hits.
(Oh, they’re also very good at making two outs on one swing. They’ve hit into 29 double plays, second-worst in the league.)
Jason Heyward has hit eight home runs; no other Brave has managed more than two. (By way of comparison, former Brave Mark Teixeira just hit three in one game in Fenway Park.) Heyward has 26 RBIs; apart from the surging Troy Glaus, no other Brave has more than nine. Indeed, the maligned Mr. Glaus has driven in more runs than Chipper Jones and Brian McCann combined.
And that’s the part that’s killing the Braves. They might be able to get away with having Melky Cabrera and Nate McLouth and Matt Diaz in their outfield if the Nos. 3 and 4 hitters were producing, but they aren’t. And McCann has decided he needs glasses again, and Chipper is 38 and can barely swing the bat. Yikes.