This week's comment focuses on the Atlanta Braves (yes, all you football nuts, it's still baseball season), and just like the first installment of RFC, comes from the Atlanta Journal Constuition's website (which is proving to be a real RFC hotbed). More specifically, this comment comes from Mark Bradely's blog post titled "It's a big day for the reeling Braves, and they don't even play."
Just like before, the comment first, then my response.
I believe that Braves have wilted for second straight year due to some conditioning issues. If you at this disturbing trend, it’s apparent that something may need to be implemented in order to avoid this type of situation in the future. Last year it was the regulars breaking down (Chipper, Prado, Jurjens, etc), and this year it’s starting pitching (Jurjens again, Hanson). It’s the old axiom that “fatigue makes losers of everybody”.
Also, it wouldn’t hurt to put Costanza back in the lineup at the number 1 or 2 spot in the batting order. I know Heyward is starting to hit better, but he’s just not making enough of an impact in the lineup to make a difference and SOMETHING needs to be done to manufacture runs.
posted by Braves73 on 9.22.2011 at 1:06 pm
A two-pronged comment! I haven't seen one of these effectively pulled off since the Great Commentapalooza of 1949. Unfortunately, I'm going to have to keep waiting for another good one, because this one falls short on both fronts. A piece of advice, Braves73: before you attempt the two-pronged comment, at least make sure your first prong makes sense.
You cite conditioning issues, and the injuries those issues allegedly caused, as a reason for the Braves' late-season struggles the past two seasons. Let's take a look at the injuries of the players you mention and see if your allegation holds up.
- 2010 Season
- Chipper Jones tore his ACL in August. As both WebMD and MedlinePlus state, ACL tears are common for many types of athletes. Neither article cites a lack of conditioning as a cause.
- Martin Prado suffered a torn oblique muscle and a hip pointer on September 28th, causing him to miss the rest of the season. He said himself that he got injured making a diving catch and aggravated it further swinging the bat the next inning. That sounds more like a freak injury than an injury due to poor conditioning to me.
- Jair Jurrjens had a couple of big injuries in 2010. First, he strained his hamstring, another injury that many athletes experience. He fully recovered from that injury, however, and went on to pitch very effectively in July and the first half of August. Unfortunately, the injury bug bit him again, this time in the form of a slight meniscus tear. The Stretching Institute says that traumatic events usually cause meniscus tears in active people under the age of 45. WebMD says twisting or turning quickly with the foot planted can be a cause. In other words, it's another injury that sometimes just happens. In the spirit of full disclosure, The Stretching Institute also says that balancing exercises, stretching, and strengthening are among effective preventive measures for meniscus injuries. Nevertheless, we can logically assume that the Braves' overall conditioning program isn't to blame for Jurrjens' injury since no other Braves' pitcher has suffered a meniscus tear recently. You might say that even though he's not a pitcher Chipper Jones tore his earlier this year, but I say that that could just as easily be attributed to Chipper being old (for a professional baseball player) and having knees with A LOT of miles on them (WebMD says that as a person ages the meniscus gets worn and tears more easily. Chipper has probably put more stress on his knees than the average person, which logically means he probably has more knee problems than the average person.)
- 2011 Season
- For the second straight year, Jair Jurrjens ended the regular season on the disabled list with a knee problem. As stated above, last season was a torn meniscus; this season the Braves are only calling it a knee strain. According to MedlinePlus, a knee strain can be caused by excessive physical activity, improperly warming up, or poor flexibility. You might be thinking that poor flexibility could be the result of a sub-par conditioning program. I might be inclined to grant you that assertion, except that Jurrjens said himself that he included a rigorous stretching regiment in his conditioning program this year in order to avoid the injuries he experienced last year. In other words, he's reportedly focused more on conditioning and fitness this year than ever before. That tells me that we cannot logically assume that his current knee problem is the result of poor conditioning.
- Tommy Hanson hasn't pitched since August 6th because of shoulder soreness. ESPN called it tendinitis, which MedlinePlus says can be the result of overuse or injury. Hanson was also diagnosed with a small rotator cuff tear, but such tears are common among pitchers. Hanson's main problem is inflammation and soreness in the shoulder. According to WedMD, poor stretching/conditioning does increase the risk of tendinitis, but most often it is caused by repetitive movements like pitching. Could poor conditioning have led the Hanson's shoulder issues? Quite possibly, but so could simply being a pitcher.
Jason Heyward has basically been playing everyday since August 30. Since then his line (batting average/on base percentage/slugging percentage) is .273/.400/.400 with 1 HR, 6 RBI, and 8 R. His line for the entire season is .227/.322/.394, so obviously he is playing much better lately (his line before August 30: .220/.307/.393).
Jose Constanza's line since August 30 is .190/.190/.190 with 0 HR, 1 RBI, and 2 R. Granted, he hasn't been playing that much since Heyward starting getting more time, but it's obvious that he is slipping. If you're not convinced, consider that Constanza's line on August 16 was .403/.439/.548. By August 26 (while he was still playing regularly), his line had fallen to .341/.385/.447 (From August 17-August 26 he hit .174/.240/.174). Now it stands at .311/.348/.396.
The first thing you said, Braves73, is that it wouldn't hurt to put Constanza back in the 1 or 2 spot in the batting order (I'm not even going to get into illogical thought of removing Bourn from the leadoff spot). With an overall OBP of .348 (.190 since August 30), batting Constanza in the 2 hole is definitely not a good idea. Furthermore, Braves73, Heyward has been making an impact. Since he's been playing regularly, he's been getting on base 4 out 10 times. It's not his fault that the Braves are hitting below .200 with runners in scoring position in September.
That's it for second installment of Ridiculous Fan Comments. Thanks for reading.
P.S. Heyward's slugging still may not be where you'd want it for a middle of the lineup guy, but if he can keep getting on base at a .400 clip, hitting him in the 2 hole in the playoffs (if the Braves make it) might not be a bad idea. Of course, if he's going good in the 7 or 8 spot, it's probably not a bad idea just to leave him there.
As usual, player stats came from www.baseball-reference.com.