Philadelphia Phillies vs. Atlanta Braves : Who is Better?

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Philadelphia Phillies vs. Atlanta Braves : Who is Better?

Philadelphia Phillies vs. Atlanta Braves : Who is Better?
Howard Smith - USATODAY Sports

The Philadelphia Phillies and the Atlanta Braves, along with the Washington Nationals, will square off in 2013 for the National League East Division Title (unless there is an unforeseen surge by the New York Mets or Florida Marlins).

Because of the Phillies and Braves rivalry I decided to go through each position, weighed both offense and defense and decided who the best player at each place is. Then I looked at the bullpens, front three starting pitchers and back three starters and weighed them as well, and arrived at a raw score in the final slide.

Going position by position and grading teams against each other is not a perfect way to predict the outcome of a season. Not every position is created equal, and some strengths on a team adequately cover up other deficiencies. For example, did the Detroit Tigers poor defensive play stop them from winning the American League Central and making it to the World Series? No, because their bats covered up the problem.

The Braves are one of the most successful franchises in sports history. Sure, they only won the World Series once in 1995, but I can count how many times they’ve missed the playoffs since the early 1990’s on one hand.

The Phillies are on the tail end of a run of dominance the franchise has never seen before. Last season was the first since 2007 that they did not make the playoffs. The Phillies are trying to win before their gets too old to compete.

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Catcher

Catcher
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Phillies: Carlos Ruiz

2012 |114 GP |16 HR |68 RBI |.325 AVG |3.4 FLD |5.5 WAR

Braves: Brian McCann

2012 |121 GP |20 HR |71 RBI |.230 AVG |2.5 FLD |2.0 WAR

Advantage: Push

Reasoning: in 2012 Carlos Ruiz enjoyed the highest WAR of his career, while McCann had the worst, and McCann played fewer games in 2012 than at any other point in his career. Look for both to stabilize to more average numbers (Ruiz goes down, McCann goes up).

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First Base

First Base
Steve Mitchell - USATODAY Sports

Phillies: Ryan Howard

2012 |71 GP |14 HR |56 RBI |.219 AVG |-5.8 FLD |-1.0 WAR

Braves: Freddie Freeman

2012 |147 GP|23 HR|94 RBI |.259 AVG |-4.0 FLD | 2.0 WAR

Advantage: Push

Reasoning: I gave these two a push because Howard is a historically prolific home run hitter who was getting over an injury, and despite his poor average, was on pace for more home runs and RBI than Freeman if the two played the same number of games. Howard also has better fielding metrics (unbelievably). What works to Freddie’s advantage is that he is young, seemingly only getting better, and has a more talented lineup around him. Still, he has yet to approach Howards power numbers. Basically, Howard is trending down, Freeman is trending up, and this season is a make or break year between the two.

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Second Base

Second Base
Howard Smith - USATODAY Sports

Phillies: Chase Utley

2012 |83 GP |11 HR |45 RBI |.256 AVG |5.3 FLD |3.2 WAR

Braves: Dan Uggla

2012 |154 G |19 HR |78 RBI |.220 AVG |2.0 FLD |3.5 WAR

Advantage: Utley

Reasoning: Utley had only 8 fewer HR in 71 few games, plus throughout their careers Utley has proven himself a superior defenseman and baserunner. On the other side of the coin this was the first season since 2007 that Uggla did not hit 31+ HRs, a plateau Chase Utley will likely never reach again. Still, even on achy knees I think Utley will be more valuable to the Phils than Uggla is to the Braves.

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Shortstop

Shortstop
Steve Mitchell - USATODAY Sports

Phillies: Jimmy Rollins

2012 |156 GP | 23 HR | 102 R |68 RBI |4.4 FLD |4.9 WAR

Braves: Andrelton Simmons

2012 | 49 GP | 3 HR | 17 R | 19 RBI |10.4 FLD | 2.2 WAR

Advantage: Rollins

Reasoning: Jimmy Rollins is essential the Derek Jeter of the National League. Andrelton Simmons doesn’t have any power, but he may be able to get on base at a decent rate and swipe 20 bags, but probably not his rookie year. Simmon’s true value lies in his defense, they say he is a rare defenseman, a once in a decade caliber guy, an Omar Vizquel type shortstop. Jimmy Rollins is no slouch in the field either, and his value at the plate trounces Simmons, which gives Rollins the overall advantage.

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Third Base

Third Base
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Phillies: Michael Young

2012 |156 GP |8 HR |79 R |67 RBI |.277 AVG |-7.7 FLD |-1.4 WAR

Braves: Chris Johnson

2012 |136 GP |15 HR |48 R |76 RBI |.281 AVG |-8.6 FLD |1.7 WAR

Advantage: Young

Reasoning: Michael Young has been one of the best players in the majors over the past decade, but last season he showed his age, and had the worst season of his career. Chris Johnson is an unknown, in his last 3 seasons he’s played 94, 107, and 136 games respectively. In the first he batted .308, then .251, and .281 last year. He’s been all over the map. I think Young will have a good year in Philadelphia, and would take him and his 8,047 AB’s over the somewhat unknown, unproved Johnson (who strikes out 25% of the time).

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Center Field

Center Field
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Philadelphia: Ben Revere

2012 |124 GP |0 HR |70 R |32 RBI |40 SB |.294 AVG |16.4 FLD |3.4 WAR

Braves: B.J. Upton

2012 |146 GP |28 HR |79 R |78 RBI |31 SB |.246 AVG |-2.4 FLD | 3.3 WAR

Advantage: Upton

Reasoning: I think Revere is obviously a better value for the Phillies than Upton is for the Braves (Under 500k, this and next year, arbitration after 2014-16, free agent after 2017 vs Upton’s 5 year $72.5M). Just because the value is better doesn’t mean Revere is the superior player, because he’s not. I’m no huge fan of the Upton brothers, but I recognize they are superior to anyone the Phillies have for the time being.

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Corner Outfielders

Corner Outfielders
Kim Klement - USATODAY Sports

Phillies: Domonic Brown/Darin Ruf, Delmon Young

Braves: Justin Upton, Jason Heyward

Advantage: Braves

Reasoning: You don’t need to see any statistics on this matchup, just trust me, the Braves corner outfielders are far superior to the Phillies, which is why I put them both in one slide. If you didn’t know that coming in then you just aren’t paying enough attention to baseball

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Top Three Starting Pitchers

Top Three Starting Pitchers
Steve Mitchell - USATODAY Sports

Phillies: Roy Halladay, Cole Hamels, Cliff Lee

Braves: Kris Medlen, Tim Hudson, Paul Maholm

Advantage: Phillies

Reasoning: The Braves front three isn’t bad, but the Phillies have arguably the best top three in the Majors. I put the pitchers in the same slide for the same reason I put the corner outfielders on the same slide, they’re clearly better, without argument.

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Bottom Three Starters

Bottom Three Starters
Dan Shirey - USATODAY Sports

Phillies: Kyle Kendrick, John Lannan, Aaron Cook/Tyler Cloyd

Braves: Mike Minor, Julio Teheran, Brandon Beachy

Advantage: Braves

Reasoning: I included three pitchers at the back end because it is very unlikely, almost impossible, to get through a season without at least one extra starter. The Braves back end is full of highly regarded prospects, and while they don’t beat the Phillies trio by a mile, they are definitely the preferable of the two. Maholm and Beachy will swap positions when the young pitcher returns around June from Tommy John surgery

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Top Four Relief Pitchers

Top Four Relief Pitchers
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Phillies: Jonathan Papelbon, Mike Adams, Antonio Bastardo, Chad Durbin

Braves: Craig Kimbrel, Jonny Venters, Eric O’Flaherty, Jordan Walden

Advantage: Braves

Reasoning: Papelbon is a great closer, but Kimbrel is simply the best. Same with Mike Adams, who was once one of the best setup men, but this season he is a question mark because of offseason surgery, which makes Venters preferable (and one of the best in the league). The Braves have had one of the best overall bullpens in the league for the last few years, I see no reason for that to change this year.

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Final Result

Final Result
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Braves win, 5-4

On a seperate note, look at Chipper showing those kids how to party. Real men don't need goggles.

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