This season, the Braves are 3rd in MLB in runs scored, and have outscored their opponents by 15 runs through 12 games. Usually this would lead to a good record, but not this year for this team. The Braves are 5-7, and have already lost 6 one run games!!! How is this possible? The offense is either all the way ON or all the way OFF.
The Braves have scored 4 runs or less in 7 games so far, and are 2-5 in those games. All 5 of those losses are by one run, and the 2 wins were both 1-0 games going into the 8th inning before a couple insurance runs were added. To get their run total up, the Braves have scored in double figures 4 times (3-1).
So where does the blame lie for this inconsistency? A big part of the problem is that no one gets on base for extended periods. I wouldn't be surprised if the Braves lead the league in 1-2-3 innings. Let's start at the top. Kelly Johnson is killing the Braves as a leadoff hitter. Ignoring his PH slam (which was huge), he has 0 RBI's and 3 runs in 37 AB's. His 10 total bases and 1 walk are pitiful for a leadoff man expected to set the table for Chipper and Tex. For comparison, Prado, the backup infielder who came in for Kelly when he was hurt, has an OBP over .100 higher. He has scored 6 runs in only 16 AB's, notching 7 total bases and 4 walks in way fewer trips to the plate than Kelly. With Chipper again leading the league in BA, someone needs to be on base. Prado scores 3/4 of the time when he gets on base. Yunel has scored 11 times out of 24 on base.
Not only does Kelly not get on base, his 0 RBI's as a leadoff man result in Diaz scoring 1/11 times on base. Rallies can't make it past the two outs of the pitcher plus Kelly.
Teixeira is known for slow starts and has hit the ball hard at times, but his struggles have hurt too. The big cleanup hitter is at .213 right now, with only 6 RBI's (6th of the Braves' 8 position players, ahead of Kelly and Kotsay). Diaz has had some clutch hits, but also has the worst possible K/BB ratio with 13 K's and 0 BB's, both worst on the team. No other Brave has more than 7 K's. His .245 OBP combined with Kelly's struggles, the pitcher's spot, and Kotsay's .250 BA pretty much kills any rally trying to make it back to the heart of the order.
ESPN's secondary average, which looks at other ways than BA that hitters contribute to run scoring, shows that Kelly and Diaz (.132 and .102) are pretty bad in that regard also. It's devastating when Kelly is creating fewer than 4 runs per 27 outs, while Cristian Guzman is at 6.5 and Rafael Furcal (ex-Brave) is at almost 13.
The Braves need to turn this around in a hurry, as the quality of the pitching will be hurting the next few weeks. Glavine just pulled a hammy, Hampton is doing rehab (permanently?), and Soriano the closer is on the DL. Smoltz just came off the DL, and James got shelled in his only outing. Chipper's a little lame in one leg, and may leave a big hole in the lineup for a week or two.
The Braves just need a consistent 6 runs/game, which would make them 10-2 right now. Their current 5.6 runs/game has had the worst possible distribution and has been very inconsistent, leaving them at 5-7.