Mark Bradley blog 

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

Will the Braves hold on and make the playoffs?

  • 9:14 am Thursday, July 24th, 2014 by Mark Bradley
Is the Braves' run about to halt? (AP photo)

In today’s AJC, I cast a rather cold eye on the Atlanta Braves and their playoff chances. I believe they’ll have to play better than they have — perhaps better than they’re capable — to qualify for the postseason. I say this even though they’re only a game behind Washington in the National League East and they’re leading the wild-card chase. (Actually, they’re tied with the Dodgers for the first WC, and they’re a game ahead of Pittsburgh and St. Louis for the second.)

I say this in large part because the pleasure cruise that has been the Braves’ midsummer schedule [More]

Do the Braves really win in spite of Frank Wren?

  • 9:23 am Tuesday, July 8th, 2014 by Mark Bradley
The future's so bright, he's gotta wear shades. (Curtis Compton/AJC)

Today’s AJC contains 800 words in defense of Frank Wren, the general manager seen by some folks as the reason the Atlanta Braves aren’t better than they are. The crux of my defense — and it’s a considerable crux, you’ll have to admit — is one basic fact: Over the past 4 1/2 seasons, the Braves have won more regular-season games than any team in baseball.

That can’t, I submit, have happened by accident. Somebody in charge has to be doing something right. If the four massive contractual errors — Derek Lowe, Kenshin Kawakami, Dan Uggla and B.J. Upton — can’t [More]

Hooray for Julio Teheran, a most deserving All-Star

  • 6:45 am Monday, July 7th, 2014 by Mark Bradley
How about a hand for a great young pitcher? (Jason Getz/AJC)

Three Atlanta Braves made the National League All-Star squad. Two were all but certainties: Craig Kimbrel is an annual lock; Freddie Freeman is becoming one. I’m usually not one to get worked up over All-Star selections — despite MLB’s attempts to confer True Meaning, it remains an exhibition game — but I have to confess:

I’d have been ticked if Julio Teheran hadn’t made it.

As it was, he made the NL roster as a replacement for Jeff Samardzija, who was traded from Chicago to Oakland — “Moneyball” is going for it all! — over the weekend. That’s a bit of a [More]

Say hello again to the first-place Atlanta Braves

  • 6:29 am Monday, June 30th, 2014 by Mark Bradley
It's thumbs-up for Fredi G. and his resurgent team. (H Rumph Jr./AP)

The Atlanta Braves are again alone in first place, holding a half-game lead over Washington. They were two games back six days ago, but they won two of three in Houston and four of four in Philadelphia. Such are the undulations of a six-month season.

The Braves have benefited, if slightly, from having B.J. Upton bat leadoff. He’s not exactly knocking the cover off the ball — he’s 6-for-22 since moving to the No. 1 spot, which has enabled him to lift his average from .202 to .205 — but he has managed a hit in all six games and has [More]

B.J. bats leadoff. Braves win. Problem solved?

  • 9:55 am Wednesday, June 25th, 2014 by Mark Bradley
B.J. Upton, the new Rickey Henderson? Er, no. (David J. Phillip/AP)

To recap: B.J. Upton batted leadoff for the Atlanta Braves in Houston on Tuesday and didn’t go 0-for-4 but got an actual hit, and not just any hit but the go-ahead home run. (Although the homer wasn’t struck when Upton led off an inning, just for the record.) The Braves won 3-2. For one night, everybody was happy. Does this mean B.J. Upton should remain in the No. 1 slot?

No. No. No. And, just for effect, I say again: No.

The primary job of a leadoff man is to get on base. Upton’s on-base percentage is .272. The average OBP for [More]

Now the Braves can’t even dominate the Nats

  • 6:34 am Monday, June 23rd, 2014 by Mark Bradley
Chris Johnson is shocked at striking out. Like he never strikes out. (Nick Wass/AP)

Over four games in D.C., we saw the essence of the 2014 Atlanta Braves, the team that doesn’t score many runs but doesn’t yield many, the team that has come to own the Washington Nationals. We saw, in sum, what we’ve been seeing all along.

As of Friday night, the Braves had run their season record against the Nats to 7-1 and had reclaimed the lead in the National League East. With Jordan Zimmermann already beaten and Stephen Strasburg lucky not to have been stuck with a loss, the Braves were positioned to leave D.C. with a 3-1 series win if [More]

You tell me: How will the Braves fare in D.C.?

  • 10:01 am Thursday, June 19th, 2014 by Mark Bradley
Here's how it looked when last they met. (David Goldman/AP)

As John Sterling, who worked here before becoming the overheated voice of the Yankees, is wont to say: You can’t predict baseball. The Atlanta Braves are headed to Washington D.C. for four games. The Braves have lost six of their past eight series (halving one) and are but a game above .500. The Nationals, who trailed by 3 1/2 games on June 1, now hold a 1 1/2-game lead over the Braves and the Marlins.

The Braves, who were just swept by the Phillies, aren’t playing well. The Nats, who swept the Astros but were themselves swept by the Cardinals before [More]

Say hello to the tied-for-2nd-place Braves

  • 9:42 am Wednesday, June 18th, 2014 by Mark Bradley
Gerald Laird produces a run -- by hitting into a DP. (Todd Kirkland/AP)

They’re no longer in first place. They’re not even alone in second. After Tuesday night’s loss, the Atlanta Braves are 36-34, having gone 19-27 since April 27. With the series to just-out-of-last-place Philadelphia already lost, the Braves have won one of their past eight series. (Counting the two-game home-and-home sets with Boston as separate entities.)

This is not — long story short — going well. After scoring 17 runs in three games against a good band of Angels, the Braves have managed three in 22 innings against the Phillies. One of those runs came on a clean single. Another was on [More]

Those grim Braves totals: 13 innings, 1 run

  • 9:08 am Tuesday, June 17th, 2014 by Mark Bradley
Here's proof that the Braves did score a run Monday. (Todd Kirkland/AP)

In a way, it wasn’t that bad a loss: Cole Hamels started for Philadelphia and was superb, which Cole Hamels often is. But Hamels exited after seven innings, meaning that the Atlanta Braves had nearly that long — six innings — to work against five Philly relievers. The Braves managed one run, that on a rally comprised of two bloop hits and a wrong-way ground single. They lost 6-1 to a last-place team, which wound up making it …

A bad loss.

This made twice in three days that the Braves fashioned a tying rally in the ninth only to lose by [More]

The Braves’ hitters actually have started to hit

  • 9:15 am Monday, June 16th, 2014 by Mark Bradley
This guy has been hitting the ball hard for a while now. (Todd Kirkland/AP)

We stipulate that a weekend does not an uprising — not a sustained one, anyway — make. But the Atlanta Braves did rally from four runs down to force extra innings Saturday night, and they did override a three-run deficit to win Sunday. They scored 17 runs on 35 hits over three games. They were 10-for-33 (.333) with runners in scoring position. For one of the few times in 2014, they looked as if they can really hit.

In a conversation before Friday’s game, hitting coach Greg Walker noted that, even as most of the team’s offensive statistics were depressing, there [More]