Good Pitching Always Beats Good Hitting…Maybe?

Whether it was Casey Stengel, Yogi Berra or Bob Veale who first coined the phrase “good pitching always beats good hitting”, one thing I know for sure is that once a “good” pitcher finds his groove, hitters start walking back to the dugout with their heads down. And that has been happening a lot to hitters facing the Atlanta Braves pitching staff this year.

Through the first 65 games of the 2011 MLB season the Atlanta Braves are ranked 23rd out of 30 in team batting average, hitting a humble .244. The Braves have scored 254 runs so far this year. In contrast the Boston Red Sox have scored 336 runs and are batting .274. So one might think that the “Bravos” are near the cellar in their division.

Not so! Atlanta’s pitching staff is currently ranked number one in team ERA, giving up a stingy 2.99 runs per game. The Braves not only have a strong starting rotation but they also have a formidable bullpen that includes Johnny Venters who currently has an amazing 0.45 ERA. Not bad considering Venters has pitched in over half the Braves games so far this year! Johnny Venters recent success sparked Cincinnati Reds manager Dusty Baker to comment, “He’s a nasty man”. “The game plan is to have the lead when he might be in the game”. Not a bad game plan since Johnny’s “drop off the table” sinker ball makes batters walk away shaking their heads. I think I can hear them saying “how am I supposed to hit that pitch?”

So how does all this translate to the success of the Atlanta Braves so far this season? Well, the Braves are currently 37-28 and just 2 games behind the first place Philadelphia Phillies in the National League Eastern Division. That’s pretty good considering the Phillies are acknowledged as one of the best teams in baseball and the odds on favorite to win the NL East again this year because of their remarkable starting pitching. But the Braves pitching has been good too and that has enabled them to stay in the race despite their current hitting woes.

Earlier this week the Braves played a game against the Florida Marlins, defeating the Marlins 1-0. The Braves managed only 2 hits in 9 innings off Marlins pitching. But one of those hits was a solo home run by Braves shortstop Alex Gonzalez which was good enough to win the game. That particular baseball game pretty much sums up the Braves season so far. Atlanta gets a ton of good pitching but only a smidgen of hitting. So far that has been just enough to win ball games. Once Dan Uggla and the rest of the Braves hitters get some of that magic fairy dust sprinkled on their bats, Atlanta could be a team to reckon with come September. Unless the injury bug decides to bite.

Player Of The Week

Goes to Atlanta Braves center fielder Jordan Schafer who has helped ignite the Braves offense by getting to first base, stealing 5 bases and scoring 5 runs. May not sound like much but Schafer has provided the spark that the Braves have lacked all season. A speedy lead off hitter who can steal 2nd base and get into scoring position in front of Chipper Jones and Brian McCann. And given Atlanta’s recent offensive woes, 5 runs and 5 stolen bases in one week is big news!

Vintage Baseball Card Of The Week

I was recently inspired by an article written by Jim Caple called “Modern spin on baseball card cartoons”. After reading the article I starting going through some of my old baseball cards and reading the cartoons on the back. One of the first cards I looked at immediately caught my interest, the 1954 Topps Ted Kluszewski card. The cartoon on the back of Ted’s card had an odd fact about “The Klu” that took me completely by surprise. If you read the three-paned cartoon strip called “Inside Baseball” on the back of Ted’s card, it states:

Back of 1954 Topps Ted Kluszewski baseball card

Back of 1954 Topps Ted Kluszewski baseball card

“To improve his 1951 BA, Ted’s wife took movies of his swing. At home Ted studied the films and found what mistakes he made. The next year ‘Klu’ not only corrected those mistakes but jumped his average from .259 to .320!”. Not only is that an impressive improvement for Kluszewski’s BA, but what is equally impressive is that Ted’s wife filmed her husband in the early 1950’s probably using either an 8mm or 16mm movie camera. Families often used 8mm home movie cameras during this period to film their children on holidays or film their vacation. Possibly Ted and his wife borrowed a 16mm movie camera from the Reds organization so they could film his swing. I’m not sure when MLB teams started using film to help their players, but this could be an early example. And perhaps “The Klu” was already grooming himself for becoming a successful hitting coach, as he would prove to be for “The Big Red Machine”, i.e., the Cincinnati Reds of the 1970’s. Big kudos to Ted’s wife for doing the filming. I wonder if that film still exists! By the way, occasionally I try to digitize 8mm home movies using the “poor mans” method of film transfer (record film using a cheap camcorder). In case you’re interested, here’s one of my efforts:

Also, I collect and sell old 8mm home movies on eBay (my eBay ID is cokerobc) and in my e-store.

On This Day In 1951

The Cincinnati Reds were defeated by the New York Giants 5-3 at Crosley Field. The Reds starting pitcher Ken Raffensberger pitched a complete 10 inning game, and lost. Ted Kluszewski went 1 for 5 and scored a run. The Giants would go on to win the NL Pennant on Bobby Thomson’s “shot heard round the world”, off Ralph Branca.

Front of 1954 Topps Ted Kluszewski front of card

1954 Topps Ted Kluszewski baseball card.

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2 thoughts on “Good Pitching Always Beats Good Hitting…Maybe?

  1. Edison

    I drop a comment when I appreciate a post on a site or I have something to add to the
    discussion. It is triggered by the sincerness displayed in the article I
    looked at. And on this post Good Pitching Always Beats Good HittingMaybe?
    | A Home Plate Weblog. I was actually excited enough to post a thought 😉 I actually do have 2 questions for you if
    you usually do not mind. Could it be only me or do some of these comments look like they are left by brain dead visitors?
    😛 And, if you are posting on additional social sites, I
    would like to keep up with you. Would you list every one of all
    your shared pages like your Facebook page, twitter feed, or linkedin profile?

    Reply
    1. obcbeatle Post author

      Hello … thanks for reading … and for the comments! It has been a while since I’ve posted to this blog only because I can never seem to find the time to write something that I consider meaningful enough that someone else might take the time to read 🙂 I don’t think I’m a very good writer, so it takes me a little longer than most folks just to write a few paragraphs 😉 Anyway … to answer your questions … I haven’t had too many comments to this blog. And … right now this is about the only place I write about stuff. However … I’ve been giving some though to changing the theme (look) of this blog since it looks visually outdated … and then start writing again. Maybe I’ll do that this month! Thanks again for reading!

      Reply

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