Mark Bradley

Mark Bradley is a sports columnist and blogger for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

For the new Braves, small ball yields a big first week

Jonny Gomes admires his Sunday circuit clout. (AP Photo/Todd Kirkland)

We stress that one week does not a season make. (To be accurate, one week does even not a month make. On the other hand, a bad month can make one weak. And here I'm going to shut up.)

OK, I lied. I'm just getting started. If you're looking for signs of hope in the 2015 Atlanta Braves -- a sign apart from them being 5-1 -- you need look no further than their offensive stats.

Through six games, they're seventh in the majors in batting average, 10th in runs, 13th in on-base percentage and 10th in batting average with runners in scoring position. They're also third-best at not striking out.

Last season's Braves were 26th in batting average, 29th in runs, 24th in on-base percentage and 28th with RISP. They were also the fourth-best -- or fourth-worst, depending on your slant -- at striking out.

Again, we note that a week is a small sample size, but still: The Braves seem to be making contact at a higher rate. With that contact has come a (slight) reduction in power. In 2013, when they led the National League in homers, they averaged 1.12 a game. Last year, when everything collapsed, they averaged 0.76 homers per game. Through six games, they're averaging 0.67.

That's not surprising. This lineup wasn't designed to hit home runs; the one in 2013 was and did. (The one in 2014 was and didn't.) Over the course of a six-month season, we'll see if the emphasis on small ball bears fruit.

Oh, and one thing more: If you're really wondering why the Braves are 5-1, check the pitching stats. They lead the majors in ERA. Roger McDowell and his merry men are at it again.

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About the Author

Mark Bradley is a sports columnist and blogger for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. He has been with the AJC since 1984.