Posted: 6:20 am Monday, June 2nd, 2014

The Braves’ second-greatest asset? Their division 

By Mark Bradley

"Yeah, baby! We're beasts in the East!" (Joe Skipper/AP)

“Yeah, baby! We’re beasts in the East!” (Joe Skipper/AP)

The best thing the Atlanta Braves have going for them is their pitching. The second-best thing is the National League East. Over the past two seasons, the Braves are 65-53 against out-of-division opposition; they’re 62-38 against NL East brethren.

Dominating their division is how the Braves won the East by 10 games last season; it’s also how they’re leading by three games now. They entered the weekend tied with the Marlins. They exited having swept three games in Miami. The Braves are 5-4 against the Fish, 5-1 against the Nationals, 3-3 against the Mets and 2-1 against the Phillies.

Contrast this, say, with how the 2014 Braves have fared against the winners of the past four World Series: They’re 1-5 against the Giants, 2-4 against the Cardinals, 0-4 against the Red Sox. Not to say the Braves can’t beat good competition — they went 5-2 against Milwaukee and Colorado only a week back — but there’s no denying the numerical truth: At 31-25, they wouldn’t be leading any other division.

One of Frank Wren’s favorite indicators of a team’s worth is run differential. In that, his Braves are plus-11. That’s the 13th-best differential in the majors, the eighth-best in the National League. (Then again, the Nationals are plus-17 but a game under .500, so who cares?)

There are times, let’s concede, when these Braves don’t look much like a playoff team. (Witness last week’s four losses to a Boston club that held last place as of Memorial Day.) But those times come only when they’re playing somebody from another division. When matched against another NL East entry, they’re a comparative colossus. And 52 of the Braves’ remaining 106 games — almost half, in other words — will come against this Eastern bloc. That alone should push them into the playoffs.

Further reading: The Braves really need La Stella to keep hitting.

Still further: Are the Braves a playoff team? (Yes, I think.)

Further still: Big Papi pops the Braves’ holiday balloon.

44 comments
LostGoat
LostGoat

fortunately the braves are in the weakest division in baseball--the other teams are terrible.  they should win this division easily and hopefully upset some team in round 1 of the playoffs.

reckingball
reckingball

I would not be surprised if the Braves were eliminated in the 1st round of the playoffs, if they get to the playoffs.

There goal right now should be to make the playoffs. And yes, it is possible that they could win it all, if they get to the playoffs.

ColdSplash
ColdSplash

And once again they will lose in the first round of the playoffs. The problem with this franchise is that just making the playoffs is the goal. You'll never win a championship that way.

GloryBetweenTheHedges
GloryBetweenTheHedges

At the end of the day the Braves will do nothing in October. The quicker everybody lets go of their false hope the better.

jon1950
jon1950

The East division is only 3 games under 500, while the Central is 7 games under.  The powerful (LOL) West is all of one game over 500.  This data does not support MBs contention that the Braves play in a weak division.

journalist jimmy smith
journalist jimmy smith

journalism is not easy.  writing journalism about the braves is especially difficult because fredi "you know what?" is one of those managers that likes crooked numbers and the backs of baseball cards long ago.  imagine if fredi managed a game and could then discuss it afterward with cogent thoughts and recall.  you know what?  that ain't going to happen. 

Terry1961
Terry1961

There are times, let’s concede, when these Braves don’t look much like a playoff team. (Witness last week’s four losses to a Boston club that held last place as of Memorial Day.)

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Bradley, Just because the Braves loss to the Red Sox, who were in last place last week, does not have anything to do with them looking like a playoff team, that same Red Sox team won the World Series last year, You could say that about almost every baseball team, look at the Giants, they have gone 3-3 against the Padres, 4-4 against the Rockies, 2-2 against the Marlins and 1-2 against the Pirates. The Cardinals have gone 3-3 against the Brewers, 4-5 against the Pirates, 1-2 against the Yankees, and 1-3 against the Giants. All teams lose games we think they shouldn't, and you say Atlanta, at 31-25, they wouldn’t be leading any other division, I would have to disagree, they are 13-6 against the Central Division, and 15-9 in the east, compare to the Brewers who are only 17-12 in the Central Division and 7-6 against the east, the Cards are 18-15 in the central division, and only 7-7 against the east, Atlanta has a better record against the Central and East Divisions, than either the Cards or the Brewers.  If the Playoffs started today, the Braves would be a playoff team, whether they look like one, or not.

GeorgeStein
GeorgeStein

The offensive problems are a direct result of the organization not valuing patience and encouraging aggressiveness.   Heyward hung a .393 OBP up as a 20 year old and has not come close to that since Fredi got here.   The fact is we only have three regulars that can be expected to put up a .300 OBP (Upton, Heyward, and Freeman).   Simmons, Gattis, Upton, and to now, second base, and the pitcher have been black holes in the lineup.   It's tough to score runs with five players making outs more than 70% of the time.

rockinreel
rockinreel

Every single post is a negative comment.  I'm glad I'm a fan of the Braves in our division because none of the others have consistently made the play-offs like we have.  Other ML teams have holes in their line-ups too.  I guess you all think their GM's and Coaches are doing much better jobs than ours, even though we go to the play-offs every year.


I support the Braves and believe if we get to the play-offs that we stand a good chance with some improved hitting with RISP later in the year.  We just need to get hot at the right time, at the end of the season. 

slydawg
slydawg

Trade Heyward and whoever else the Rays want for David Price right now while he's still affordable. If not, this team is going to stink for a couple of seasons. At best, mediocre. J. Upton and Struggla come off the books in 2015. Medlan, Beachy, Venters, and Santana cannot be counted on as contributors next year. And you still have Shaggy and Scooby Doo running things. Just like Matt Ryan, you paid Freeman too much too soon when that same player may have been willing to wait. Now both are just collecting big checks and racking up stats with no help and no post season help in order to utilize their gifts.

Baghead
Baghead

"Not to say the Braves can't beat good competition".  Nah.  They can't.  This team is incapable of winning a 5 or 7 game series against any good competition, let alone a division winner.  You gotta have a team comprised of players that can get on base and move runners.  We have the pitching sure, but the offense is a joke.  

Mr. Negative
Mr. Negative

Scoutin out a new place fo my grill up in Cobb. The demons of Capital Ave gonna make there way up there soon enough. I got me a seance where I talked to Gen Shermans ghost an he told me the Curse extend up there too.

Peachs
Peachs

Not much different than Georgia in football.

crackbaby
crackbaby

MB,

Just a few weeks ago, every team in the NL East was above .500.  Lots of injuries have derailed these teams recently.  We'll see how it ends up in the Fall.


No disputing that the Braves bats can't handle top flight starting pitching tho.


LaStella should bat 2nd, no?

DrPhill
DrPhill

This team is maddening. They may win the division, but they are too flakey to go any farther.  The Braves are lucky that the Miami pitcher is out.

We_Will_Get_Fooled_Again
We_Will_Get_Fooled_Again

As always, it comes down to matchups in the playoffs. The last several times the Braves have made the postseason, they've gotten terrible draws. And that's not making excuses either - it's simply an acknowledgment of the fact that the Braves have run into teams that were surging going into the playoffs and had better front-line starting pitching and/or playoff pedigree.

I could see us beating the Brewers in a five-game series. I don't think we'd stand a chance against the Giants or Cardinals, and I wouldn't love our chances against the Dodgers either.

BRAVES2143
BRAVES2143

Mark you might want to change your first sentence to read the best thing the Braves have going for them is their STARTING pitching because the bullpen is very shaky.  Carpenter is showing why so many teams gave up on him and why he had a career 6 plus ERA prior to last year and Avilan is not fooling hitters this year like he did last and guys are just waiting for the fast ball and teeing off on him.   Alex Wood is another who pitched good yesterday but has not been the same pitcher coming out of the bullpen that he was starting.   Hale on the other hand has been decent  since his move and Varvaro has looked good of late and hopefully Simmons is the real deal but like so many teams the Braves need help in the pen.

RangeRover
RangeRover

And what is the worst thing going for them?  Easy.  Their manager; indisputably the the most overmatched, ill prepared man leading a professional sports franchise.  

Dumb as a box of rocks too, as evidence when he asked a reporter to conform last night what he wasn't sure of (it's on video) regarding who got the win.  "Woody got the win, right," referring to Alexi Wood who pitch the final out of the 8th inning just prior to Gattis' two run homer in the top of the 9th.

Birdhair
Birdhair

And every offseason Mark Bradley writes the same thing about the playoffs - it's a crapshoot. Calling the playoffs a crapshoot is lazy analysis and is far from the truth. It's almost like Mark is laying down an excuse for the Braves' continued failure. If the playoffs truly are a crapshoot then the Braves sure have done of a lot of crapping. 0 playoff series wins since 2001. Hmmm.

There is nothing "complete" or "compelling" about the AJC. The AJC supports mediocrity and doesn't provide critical analysis. None of these articles provide the reader with any value. The lack of analysis is perpetuating atlanta as sports losersville. If atlanta is sports losersville what are our writers?

58Supersports
58Supersports

So true,  so true Mark.. If Braves make play off it will  be "one and done" just like in the past. But if Braves make play off Wren is hero an all management  is happy.. Total bs. They are just happy to make it in a sorry division. Braves are not build to win it all, just show.  Management is a joke.  The  Fish are not Boston that's for sure!

BRAVES2143
BRAVES2143

This team is probably the best in the NL East but I still don't see them winning a playoff series against the Giants or Cardinals.  Too many holes in the lineup that good pitching staffs can dominate.   Sorry folks I hope they improve and I did like the way they looked this weekend but I have gotten my hopes up before  thinking they were turning a corner and then all of the sudden, Boom,  they go 3 or 4 games and only score 2 or 3 runs. Too many swingers and not enough hitters in this lineup.

BANSHEE296402
BANSHEE296402

Too bad the world series isn't intra divisional

RockdaleJ
RockdaleJ

Kind of makes you scratch your head about the Marlins' sweep of the Braves in April. Otherwise, I'm happy for this sweep. Makes me forget about the Red Sox.

gtyjackets0003
gtyjackets0003

@jon1950 He didn't say they play in a weak division. He's saying the Braves play WELL within the division.

Snagglepuss
Snagglepuss

@Terry1961 


Last time I checked only two or three teams in MLB had a better winning percentage than the Braves!!!!!!!!!!!!

Zing
Zing

@GeorgeStein Neither Simmons nor Gattis have been blackholes.  They--especially Gattis--have been good slugging %ers, which is also good.  With you on BJ and 2B(Uggs), but it looks like we've got 2B figured out.

58Supersports
58Supersports

@rockinreel  That's the problem fans and Management are just happy to get there not win  like you.

Baghead
Baghead

@rockinreel You're the guy I want to smack across the face in October when you're sitting there with your hands in the air asking "but, but, but, we had such a good team.  How did we get completely shut down and lose this series so quick?  Now we can't win the World Series."  That's great that you support the team, and I do too, but you have to be willing to criticize management.  The problem is that if you believe we "stand a good chance" at winning the whole thing, you are a delusional fan. We have more than holes.  We have gaping Joslyn crevices.  This team is incapable of getting batters on base and moving runners consistently.  FIRE WREN!

slydawg
slydawg

That's good weed you're smoking.

BRAVES2143
BRAVES2143

@slydawg Justin Upton and Dan Uggla don't come off the books until 2016.  27.5 million for these two NEXT year.   

Spider29
Spider29

We need offense.  The pitching has been solid and leads (or is second) in many categories.  I like Price but he isn't what the team needs right now.

Snagglepuss
Snagglepuss

@Baghead 


However, they are currently L E A D I N G   T H E I R    D I V I S I O N!!!!!!!!!


What will it take to satisfy you PI$$ERS  &   Moaners???


162 - 0???   Get a life!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

slydawg
slydawg

The pitching ain't there either bro. Would you trust this staff in the post season, even without all those Tommy John's? There is not one intimidating pitcher in this entire organization save Kimbrel and Smoltz ( oh yeah, forgot, he's in the booth...lol).

Baghead
Baghead

@Peachs 10-4.  The team is built to fill up the seats, which ironically they never do, NOT to win championships.  Ownership and Wren don't care about winning it all.  A divisional series win is enough.  

slydawg
slydawg

That last sentence was gold. Let's not forget the "old" Phillies, Matt Harvey, and the underachieving Bryce Harper.

Birdhair
Birdhair

Rangerover, FG can only do so much. His primary responsibility is making out the lineup card. The white haired clown upstairs (wren) has forced uggla and Bj and other awful inning ending players on FG. FG is forced to play these players bec of the money that wren has given them. I feel really bad for FG. Imagine if we were managed by cox last couple of years with Bj and uggla on the roster. Cox would play both every day. FG has sat both of these losers as much as he can get away with. FG walks a fine line. He wants to keep his job but he clearly he also wants to win. The clown upstairs doesn't give FG much to work with and calls the shots. Wren has to go if you want to take a leap forward. Leave the manager in place and find a competent gm and see what happens

GeorgeStein
GeorgeStein

@Zing Simmons has an OBP under .300 and has hit for very little power.   I have no real problem with that because his glove is that good.   Gattis has an OBP of .302, which is terrible.   However, he does offer huge power, which keeps him playable, because his defense is otherwise pretty mediocre (and we have Bethancourt if we want to punt offesively at catcher).


We'll see how young Tommy turns out.