2003 Atlanta Braves Graphs Review

Following are graphs and commentary regarding the 2003 season of the Atlanta Braves. Questions or comments can be sent to me at dave@baseballgraphs.com.

NL East Standings The National League East Race

The Braves dominated this race from start to finish, outside of a small run by the Phillies in early July. Of all the division races, there was probably the least doubt associated with this one, despite the fact that the wild card team came from this league.

The Braves beat their Pythagorean projection (wins based on runs scored and allowed) by about four wins. The curious thing about this is that they actually had a bad record in one-run games (17-25), which is usually a function of luck. What happened was that they were 21-7 in two-run games and 17-4 in three-run games. That is wacky.

Comments How to Read this Graph

All that Pythagorean talk takes nothing away from Atlanta. They were the best in terms of runs scored and allowed, as you can see on this chart (they're almost touching the .600 isobar).

As has been pointed out in the Diamond Mind weblog, the Braves had an offensive year of historic proportions. Actually, the Cardinals scored slightly more per game than the Braves on a park-adjusted basis. Okay, I've got to admit that I need to update my Park Factors. The park factors that Pete uses for Win Shares are more valid.

If you move your mouse over the graph, you'll see that the offense actually got better during the year and the pitching/fielding stayed about the same.

Move your mouse over this graph to view the status of each team at the season's midpoint (July 1st).

Pitching and Fielding

Fielding Independent Pitching is based on the following formula: (13*HR+3*BB-2*K)/IP. Defense Efficiency Ratio is (Non-catcher putouts/Batted Balls in Play), adjusted for ballpark. Circle sizes in this graph are proportional to the percent of fieldable balls successfully converted into outs by the fielders.
The Braves' Pitching and Fielding

The Braves' pitching, as measured by FIP, was about average. But their team DER was decidedly above average and their fielding was among the best in the league.

Atlanta had a ground ball staff (a GB/FB ratio of 1.50, third highest in the league) and their good fielding is presumably due to their infield. Giles led the league in Zone Rating at second and he was third in 2b fielding Win Shares, but Furcal doesn't rate highly at shortstop. So this one is hard to figure.

Anyone have an opinion about Andruw Jones? His Zone Rating was close to the bottom, but he led all league outfielders in fielding Win Shares. My own guess is that his Win Share ranking is more indicative of his true worth.

How to Read this Graph

Atlanta Braves Ten Game Averages
April May June July Aug Sept
OBP .347 .355 .325 .378 .338 .344
SLG .444 .535 .447 .495 .463 .463
FIP 1.46 1.11 0.66 1.34 1.12 0.81
DER .743 .740 .710 .696 .733 .737
The DER stats in this table are based on limited data; the trend between months per team is more valid than the absolute number.
The Braves Day-by-Day

The Braves were simply awesome through the middle of July, and then they seemed to coast for the rest of the season. May was an incredible month for the offense but July was even better (a TEAM OBP of .378 for the month).

Another note: the Braves' runs allowed were consistently better than average except for the month of July. Early on, it was the defense/DER that kept the opposition under control, while June and September were strong pitching months. July was the only month in which the Braves didn't deliver a strong FIP or DER.

Atlanta Braves' Win Shares

Player          Team    Pos     Hit     Field   Pitch   Sum     WS	
--------	----	----	-----	-----	-----	-----	---	
G Sheffield     ATL     OF      31.55   2.95    0.00    34.51   35	
J Lopez         ATL     C       24.38   5.35    0.00    29.73   30	
M Giles         ATL     2B      21.13   6.61    0.00    27.74   28	
C Jones         ATL     OF      23.61   2.06    0.00    25.67   26	
R Furcal        ATL     SS      20.23   4.91    0.00    25.14   25	
A Jones         ATL     OF      16.76   6.04    0.00    22.80   23	
J Smoltz        ATL     P       0.00    0.00    16.08   16.08   16	
R Ortiz         ATL     P       1.50    0.00    14.49   15.99   16	
V Castilla      ATL     3B      10.43   3.30    0.00    13.72   14	
R Fick          ATL     1B      12.78   0.85    0.00    13.64   14	
M Hampton       ATL     P       0.00    0.00    11.47   11.47   11	
G Maddux        ATL     P       0.00    0.00    10.83   10.83   11	
H Ramirez       ATL     P       0.00    0.00    9.15    9.15    9	
J Franco        ATL     1B      5.68    0.40    0.00    6.08    6	
M DeRosa        ATL     2B      2.92    2.17    0.00    5.08    5	
R King          ATL     P       0.00    0.00    4.49    4.49    5	
K Gryboski      ATL     P       0.00    0.00    3.41    3.41    3	
W Cunnane       ATL     P       0.00    0.00    3.29    3.29    3	
S Reynolds      ATL     P       0.00    0.00    3.03    3.03    3	
J Bong          ATL     P       0.00    0.00    2.67    2.67    3	
R Hernandez     ATL     P       0.00    0.00    2.54    2.54    3	
T Hodges        ATL     P       0.00    0.00    2.28    2.28    2	
H Blanco        ATL     C       0.57    1.67    0.00    2.24    2	
K Mercker       ATL     P       0.00    0.00    2.22    2.22    2	
D Holmes        ATL     P       0.00    0.00    2.03    2.03    2	
D Bragg         ATL     OF      0.54    0.79    0.00    1.33    1	
J Wright        ATL     P       0.00    0.00    1.30    1.30    1	
M Franco        ATL     1B      1.09    0.11    0.00    1.20    1	
M Hessman       ATL     OF      1.11    0.06    0.00    1.17    1	
J Garcia        ATL     2B      0.76    0.13    0.00    0.88    1	
J Marquis       ATL     P       0.23    0.00    0.57    0.81    1	
J Estrada       ATL     C       0.00    0.27    0.00    0.27    0	
R Langerhans    ATL     OF      0.00    0.22    0.00    0.22    0	
J Dawley        ATL     P       0.00    0.00    0.00    0.00    0	

The Braves' Individual Players

In a lot of years, Gary Sheffield would have had a chance for MVP, but he ran into Bonds and Pujols this year. Similarly, John Smoltz would have stood out as the best reliever in the league, were it not for Eric Gagne and a week on the disabled list.

In fact, virtually all of the Atlanta players were near the top of their position Win Share ranks. Lopez was first at C, Giles was first at 2b, Furcal tied for first at short, and Sheffield, Jones and Jones were among the top nine outfielders.

You can view all National League Win Shares data via the following links:
All Players, Top to Bottom
Players Ranked by Position
Players Fielding WS by Position