Increased walk rate boosts Braves' run production
ATLANTA -- When the Braves returned to Turner Field last week, they were in the midst of a scoring drought that was widely blamed on a lack of plate discipline. But over the past week, they have seen the potential benefits of a more patient approach.
Through the first eight games of a nine-game homestand that concluded against the Red Sox on Tuesday night, the Braves had averaged 4.6 runs and drawn one walk in every 9.2 plate appearances. This walk rate was heavily influenced by the eight free passes Boston's Clay Buchholz issued in just three innings Monday.
But if you take away Monday's game, the Braves still had drawn a walk once every 11 plate appearances through the first seven games of this homestand. While the sample size is small, the trend has at least been similar to what they produced last year, when they ranked second in the National League with one walk every 11.3 plate appearances.
In the 42 games before this homestand, the Braves averaged 3.2 runs per game and one walk every 13.8 plate appearances.
"We're still aggressive in the strike zone, but we're walking," manager Fredi Gonzalez said. "That's good. We're swinging in the strike zone and not giving the pitcher a chance to pitch around us. I think before, we were in a stretch when if a guy threw a rosin bag, we were swinging."
According to FanGraphs.com, the Braves have swung at more pitches outside the strike zone (31 percent) than all but three other National League clubs: the Rockies, Brewers and Giants. The Giants are also the only NL club that has swung at a higher percentage (70 percent) of pitches inside the strike zone than Atlanta (68.7 percent).
The Braves have swung at a 49.2 percent of the pitches they've seen (the NL's third-highest mark and made contact with 76.4 percent of their swings (the NL's lowest percentage). The contact rate has at least improved since standing at 75.1 percent on May 15.