The silver anniversary of rock bottom: The nadir

The Braves. losers of three straight, were 38-74 entering Game 113. A crowd of 6,070 turned out on one crazy summer night in August to watch Rick Mahler battle Andy Hawkins.

A three-run homer by Murph gave the Braves a 3-1 advantage in the 3rd. The lead held until the 9th when, as you’d expect, the roof caved in. After a Tony Gwynn single, Andres Thomas booted a grounder by Keith Moreland to put the tying runner on base. Marvell Wynne bunted the runners over to 2nd and 3rd with one out. Mahler then coaxed a grounder from Benito Santiago but unfortunately it was hit to Thomas, who committed his second error of the inning.

The Braves still led by 1 and, following a strikeout of Randy Ready, were just one out away from victory. Mahler did his part, getting Garry Templeton to ground softly to first. Guess what happened next.

The third error of the inning, by Gerald Perry, tied the game at three.

It would stay that way for six innings. German Jimenez allowed two runs in the top of the 16th but the Braves battled back, scoring one and putting the tying run on third with Thomas coming to bat. Appropriately, he recorded the final out, dropping the Braves 25.5 games out of first.

andres

The 20 worst A-Braves players: #1 Andres Thomas

It was difficult omitting Corky Miller, who had 5 hits as B-Mac’s back-up in 2008 and batted .138 in 87 AB’s as a Brave.¬†But how do you exclude Andres Thomas, the 7th SS to make our register? (Go here for the complete list.)

Stat awareness works for and against Andres, a Brave from 1985-90. I was a kid when he played, back when hitters were measured solely by batting average, homers and RBI. For infielders like Andres, it was all about errors, and he made a ton. Andres led all shortstops in errors in 1988 and was the runner-up in ’89. In ’87 he was charged with 20 errors despite appearing in only 82 games. Not good, though not as bad as it appeared at the time, as Andres ranked tops in range factor among all shortstops in ’87 and in the top 5 the next two seasons.

Conversely, Andres was generally thought of as productive bat for a SS. In the days before ‘roids became so widespread a .252-13-68 line, Andres’ line in ’88, looked pretty good. There were persistent rumblings of a Thomas for Barry Bonds swap back then, though I can’t imagine Pittsburgh ever seriously pondered it.

Andres was the anti-Bonds when it came to OBP, a basic stat today but one that was largely ignored in the ’80s. Good thing for Andres, because his was disproportionately awful.

He walked 59 times in 6 years with the Braves. Freddie, Uggla and Bourn each accrued more bases on balls in 2012. Andres was consistent, at least, never walking more than 14 times in a season, which explains his career .255 OBP, lower even than fellow 20 worsters Pat Rockett and Luis Gomez. His lifetime offensive WAR was -3.9 may not mean much until you compare it to those of Jason Bay and Jeff Francoeur, who in 2012 ranked near the bottom of the league with -0.8 and -1.2, respectively.

Andres, who had become the face off the franchise’s low point in Atlanta, was released following the 1990 season. His departure and the glory days that followed were no coincidence.