A lot of people are putting the blame for the Atlanta Braves' four-game exit from the National League Division Series with the Los Angeles Dodgers squarely on the shoulders of Fredi Gonzalez. A lot of those people are also calling for him to be fired.
Seriously, just stop.
It was understandable when the Braves collapsed in 2010, his first year at the helm, but they've made marked improvements since then, and it's not in spite of him.
Teams don't win 96 games and a division title in spite of their manager. Someone was going around Twitter claiming he cost them 10-15 wins. Sorry, but the Braves weren't going to win 105 games this season.
And let's examine his decision to keep Craig Kimbrel to four outs in game four's elimination loss, which pissed off pretty much everyone, including Kimbrel.
In the 239 appearances Kimbrel has made combined between the regular season and playoffs, he's gone two innings exactly three times. David Schoenfield also notes that there were only four combined two-inning saves in the playoffs from 2008-12, those being Jason Motte in Game 3 of last year's NLCS, Phil Coke in Game 2 of the ALCS last year (with a three-run lead) and Mariano Rivera twice in 2009..
So, while it's true that two-inning saves happen, they're exceptionally rare in the first place.
But let's not forget that the Braves struck out a whopping 42 times in four games. Six of those were by Brian McCann, and three of those were by B.J. Upton in every at-bat he had.
Some were miffed that Elliot Johnson started at second base while Dan Uggla was left off the roster, and said their point was proven when Johnson booted a ball in the first game and struggled at the plate.
They then seemed to turn a blind eye when he turned double plays that Uggla would struggle to get to in the first place. And that whole triple that set up the go-ahead run in game four? Yeah, don't worry about that.
Really, did you trust the skills of a man with 10 hits in his last 101 at-bats? The guy who struck out 177 times in 136 games? No, you didn't. You just wanted someone to blame.
Gonzalez managed a team that actually overperformed, especially considering season-ending injuries to Jonny Venters, Eric O'Flaherty, Cristhian Martinez, Ramiro Pena, Tyler Pastornicky and TIm Hudson.
There was also that Brandon Beachy guy, whom the Braves thought would come back in June from Tommy John. He made five starts. There was also Jason Heyward's rash of injuries and juggling Evan Gattis between outfield and catching just to get his bat in the lineup after McCann returned from his surgery.
All this, and they won 96 games with the youngest 25-man roster in baseball. Yes, even younger than the Houston Astros.
Keep a straight face and tell someone that Gonzalez is to blame for all their problems.
You can't, if you actually know baseball.
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