The 2009 Braves: What Was Their True Weakness?

Benjamin upchurchContributor IIDecember 14, 2009

ATLANTA - AUGUST 23:  Closing pitcher Rafael Soriano #39 of the Atlanta Braves makes a mark on the back of the pitching mound after a strikeout against the Florida Marlins on August 23, 2009 at Turner Field in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Over the course of 2009, the Braves pitching staff had a quality pitching staff.  On the other hand the total offense was less than stellar; so why does it seem like the Braves are moving slowly on this blatant issue?

Well if you look back at the end of June last year, the Braves were a struggling team that was below .500.  By the end of the year, they were contenders for the playoffs. What could have caused this turn around?

Was it the overall pitching staff?  ERA dropped by .6 runs. In the second half, only the Dodgers were better in the National league. The difference in ERA was .01.  Still this wouldn't have been enough with minimal run support.

What did the offense contribute the cause? The apparently weak offense produced 362 runs. This was second best in the National League.  So the Braves by July had already sorted out a number of issues with its offensive production.

So what was the weakness that caused the Braves to miss their shot at the 2009 World Series?

It was closing. In the second half, the Braves had troubles closing games.  Soriano and Gonzalez had 17 saves (12 in the NL).  With a saving percentage at abysmal 68 percent. It cost us some key games in the second half.  Soriano was particularly horrible with a 4.91 ERA during the Braves charge for the playoffs. Gonzalez was inconsistent in his outings blowing three out of four saves even though he had a 1.11 

This is why the Braves needed a solid closer more than anything this offseason. It's not a good situation for Bobby Cox or the Braves organization.