Atlanta enters the weekend series tied for second place in the NL East and three games back of New York. The Braves are tied with the Diamondbacks for first in the NL in run differential at +27, suggesting that their strong early play may not just be a flash in the pan. (The Mets’ run differential is +23). They have had some fill-in guys make big contributions, but also relied on the young duo in the middle infield, who are both highlighted below.
Flaherty’s BABIP: Ryan Flaherty’s hot start is not completely due to an unsustainable BABIP, as he has positive marks in the field (1.4 FRAA) and has better than career average walk (12.5%) and strikeout rates (17.95). And that was before his home run Wednesday. However, his .447 BABIP will certainly fall, and so will his productiveness. The Braves have to be happy with the value they have received as he manned the hot corner while Johan Camargo rehabbed from injury, though.
Swanson’s Hot Start: Dansby has been raking through the first few weeks, trailing only Freddie Freeman for the team lead in True Average at .334. His contributions at the plate have been tempered somewhat, though, by a poor showing the field (-3.8 FRAA). Swanson was the second worst fielding shortstop last season (-10.1 FRAA), so the poor early showing there is somewhat concerning for the Braves. They will probably live with the defense if the offense stays strong, though, as last season he provided neither, with a True Average of .237.
Vizcaino’s Curve: Braves’ closer Arodys Vizcaino’s curve was one of extremes last season. It was the third- and second-lowest for horizontal and vertical movement among relievers, but the second fastest (86.2 mph). He got the fourth-highest swing rate on the pitch (50%), and the second-highest whiff rate on swings (55%). When batters put the ball in play, though, his curve had the highest fly ball percentage (44%). So if Vizcaino makes an appearance over the weekend, look for lots of swings and misses as well as balls in the air on his curveball.
The Good: Ozzie Albies has been an extra base hit machine early in the season, totaling 14 thus far; that’s nearly one extra base hit per game. The Mets’ leader is Asdrubal Cabrera with 9.
The Bad: Carlos Perez has a .123 True Average while filling in for injured backstop Tyler Flowers.
The Ugly: This is not a stat, but one has to feel bad for Anibal Sanchez, who was carted off the field with an air cast on his leg during warmups Wednesday. For a guy who had made a few good starts, this injury may have derailed his comeback attempt. Sanchez was scheduled to start the first game of the series.
Mets’ Early Check-in
Cespedes’ numbers remain concerning, even coming off of his home run in Wednesday’s game. His strikeout rate is still near 40%, and his BABIP is right around his career norm. His True Average was a paltry .226 entering play Wednesday.
Photo credit: Dale Zunino – USA Today Sports