Watching the Atlanta Braves for the past couple of months has been like watching a train wreck in super-slow motion. Every few games, you can see a few fans jump off in anticipation of the inevitable crash. Every time a runner is left in scoring position, a fan changes the channel.

To the daily TV viewer, the tomahawk-clad team has seemed like a team incapable of scoring runs. But just how offensively inept this team has been cannot be truly “appreciated” unless one looks at the stats.

While the Braves have traditionally been built on pitching, they have also usually had an offense that was league average or better. While their pitching has been solid this season, their offensive woes have been, and will continue to be, their downfall.

I could tell you about this 2014 Braves team, a team drawing fewer walks per game than any Atlanta team since 1990.

I could tell you about this Braves team, a team built around hitting home runs, which has hit fewer home runs per game than any Atlanta team since 1989.

I could tell you about the lowest slugging percentage since 1989. Or the lowest batting average since 1989. All of those awful stats this season have conspired to keep their offense from scoring runs. The Braves’ 3.69 runs per game this year is the lowest in any year since 1989, when they scored 3.63 runs per game.

The futility of Atlanta’s offense has been especially noticeable lately. Entering play on Monday, the Braves’ last nine games were against two sub-.500 teams—the Marlins (six) and Phillies (three). During that span, they were shut out four times, including getting no-hit once, while posting a losing record of 4-5.

The numbers from month to month don’t paint a trend. The Braves offense hasn’t gotten noticeably better or worse as the season has gone on.

The offense is instead prone to extreme streaks, with prolonged stretches of wins and losses. There have been five winning streaks of four or more games and four losing streaks of four or more games.

Last year’s team struck out more than any team in Braves’ franchise history. The 2014 squad may not break that record, but they’ll come mighty close.

Last year’s team got on base more often and hit more home runs, making the strikeouts tolerable. This season’s club has retained the bad habit of the strikeout without the benefit of the additional walks or consistent power.

The power outage might be the most troublesome stat of all. When the Braves signed Dan Uggla and B.J. Upton, they knew they would be adding strikeouts, but they also hoped that the home run power each player brought with him would offset the whiffs.

The struggles of those two players have been well-chronicled, but they also struggled just as much last season. This year, the offensive output from other key members of the lineup is also down, with Chris Johnson and Andrelton Simmons performing well below their numbers from a season ago.

A good way to measure overall offensive output is with weighted runs created plus (wRC+). This is a rate stat that takes into account all facets of offense and adjusts for park and year, with a wRC+ of 100 being league average.

Last year, the Braves had five lineup regulars with wRC+ of over 100 and three key role players over 100. Even guys like Simmons and Uggla had a respectable wRC+ of 91. That 2013 team averaged 4.25 runs per game, which was fourth in the NL, compared to this year’s 3.69, which is second to last.

This season, just four lineup regulars have wRC+ of over 100, with just about everyone else languishing below 90. They have a core of players—Freddie Freeman, Justin Upton, Jason Heyward and Evan Gattis—creating above-average offensive outcomes but virtually no supporting cast around them approaching league average.

Atlanta was 17-8 in April and has been 57-61 since then. The offense has not improved since April, and it wasn’t particularly good that month either. The difference in April was an otherworldly performance from the pitching staff, which posted a 2.59 ERA.

While the pitching has been decent since April, and generally better than league average, it has not been good enough to cover up for the woefully deficient offense.

With shutouts against Atlanta becoming increasingly more familiar, it’s hard to imagine the offense suddenly finding their hitting shoes. The pitching will keep them in games, but until the eight other guys in the lineup start adding another run or two per game, the team’s worst offense in 25 years will prove to be the downfall of the 2014 Atlanta Braves.  


All stats are through the games of September 7 and taken from and

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