(Hi again. This is me in italics. Just wanted to say that I don’t want this blog to die, but it definitely will take a backseat for the most part. I started three online classes last Monday and am looking to finally secure my bachelor’s degree. As you can expect, that knocked down the priority this blog has. That said, I am hoping to adopt a schedule for updating. Basically, between Wednesday and Sunday, I want to update at least four times. The main reason for that is that my classes that I have to meet for a virtual classroom are on Mondays and Tuesdays and I don’t want to overdo it on those days. But today is Tuesday, what gives? I’m still going to update occasionally and the Best and Worst of the Month column doesn’t take a lot of critical thought. Some would argue that none of the posts here require much critical thought. What are you, some kind of wise guy? Anyway, thanks for reading and I hope you stick around.)
I’m a little late, but here are August’s Best and Worst. It was a wonderful month for the Braves as they went 20-7. Somewhere, Jeff Schultz and ESPN just said, “yeah, well, if you take out the 14-game win streak (though the streak actually began in late July)…” Despite scoring their second-worst amount of runs, they cruised with the help of a tremendous month for the pitching staff as they allowed an average of 2.7 R/G. Course, the offense took a step back when Jason Heyward broke his jaw on August 21st. Just the same, anytime you gain 4.5 games on the opposition can be regarded as a good month.
Rookie of the Month
Alex Wood – For the second consecutive month, Wood earns the Walk-Off Walk Rookie of the Month. In five starts, he allowed just three earned runs in 30 innings, a superb effort that also included a 2.60 FIP. When the calander changed to September, he suddenly looked like a rookie for the first time, but hopefully when he makes his next start, we will witness the July-to-August Wood. At this pace, Wood will slot nicely in the third spot in a postseason rotation. Not bad for a guy whose future looked like it belonged in the pen.
Honorable Mentions: Julio Teheran (10.7 K/9, 3.75 FIP)
Worst Position Player of the Month
Dan Uggla – Maybe a little unfair because he was apparently blind for half of the month, but Uggla had an August to forget. In 63 plate appearances, he managed four singles. He did manage an on-base percentage that was a shade over two hundred points higher than his batting average, but that’s of small consolation. He managed a 21 RC+ for the month. Well, Laser Eyes will hopefully end the season with a better month, but let’s be honest…he couldn’t have done much worse.
Worst Pitcher of the Month
Luis Ayala – It should be telling that I picked a depth guy in the bullpen for worst pitcher. The options were minimal. In the first month without Tim Hudson, the Braves pitchers rolled. There was little to choose from so I went with Ayala, who was used frequently and without consistent results. Aided by a 94.8 LOB%, he was able to look better than he pitched. Compare his 2.00 ERA to his 5.04 FIP. Course, that’s an exceedingly low sample size, but the Braves didn’t give me a shitty starter to plug in here. As such, no dishonorable mention.
Best Position Player of the Month
Justin Upton – This could easily have been Heyward, but he missed the final week. The younger Upton had been missing in action for some time, but over the last five or six weeks, he’s back in form and the National League pitchers realized just how lucky they were before he found his swing. He homered eight times in August while OPSing over a thousand. In the number two spot, Upton got a lot of good pitches with Heyward on in front of him and he didn’t miss too often.
Honorable Mentions: Heyward (.348/.419/.621), Freddie Freeman (.301/.378/.456)
Best Pitcher of the Month
Wood – As ridiculousness as Craig Kimbrel was in August, I will always lean toward giving starters awards when possible. I don’t have much else to say about Wood, though. He’s good.
Honorable Mentions: Kimbrel (16.1 scoreless innings, 1.08 FIP)
Here’s a few additional notes:
- Andrelton Simmons wasn’t included in the discussion for best position player because his bat slumped throughout August, but his glove remained other-worldly and he posted the fifth best UZR for the month. It’s a shame it’s difficult to look up DRS splits.
- How much does your spot in the lineup impact your counting stats? Chris Johnson hit mostly fifth and sixth in August and responded with 21 RBI’s. He had 23 during the first three months of the season. However, after scoring 18 runs while batting mostly seventh and eighth in July, he crossed the plate only five times in August and only ONCE did he score without hitting a homer. Having the ineptitude of B.J. Upton, Uggla, and Simmons behind him puts the onus on Johnson to get hits when runners are on base. Fortunately, he’s a good hitter.
- Kimbrel’s fastball averaged a team-high 97.5 mph.
- Lefties Luis Avilan and Scott Downs went with the hard stuff a lot in August. For Downs, he threw his fastball 88.1% and Avilan wasn’t much behind.
- The Braves stole 16 of 21 bases during August with half of the successful swipes coming from Schafer. That bested the previous high in stolen bases for a month by two.