Clutch Hits and Hope for the Braves

This quote from an article in the AJC give me some hope for the Braves,

The Braves, who led the majors with a .274 batting average in close-and-late situations in 2003, were last out of 30 teams with a .215 average in those situations before Thursday.

Chipper Jones explains why this is bad,

Most of the time last year, we had a veteran hitter up in those situations. This year a lot of times we don’t. We’ve got a lot of young guys.

Wait, but didn’t I just say this is good news? Well, the reason is that clutch hitting is not a skill, or at least no one has yet identified it as a skill. Yes, there were a lot of veterans in last year’s line-up late in the game, but it is also true that last year the line-up was a lot better in ALL hitting situations. The team hit .284 last year with more power. What is happening is that by random chance the team is not getting hits when it is close and late. Overall, the Braves batting average has been .254, and .244 in the 7-9 innings. .215 is well below that and I expect some mean reversion. As the Braves begin hitting closer to their actual ability — which is unfortunately below last year’s team — the Braves ought to win a few more games than they have been winning. It is likely that the Braves are actually a better team than the record indicates. According to Rob Neyer’s Pythagorean Standings, the Braves ought to be 35-36 and not 33-38. This is evidence that the record understates the way the team has played on the field. I know even that reacord is not all that good, but there is hope.

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