We have hit the midway point of the 2013 MLB season, and the Atlanta Braves (48-34) find themselves in a favorable position with a 6.5 game lead in the National League East. They have the third best record in the NL behind the Pittsburgh Pirates (51-30) and the St. Louis Cardinals (49-32) and are one of six NL teams with a winning record— Cincinnati Reds (46-36), Arizona Diamondbacks (42-39) and Washington Nationals (41-40).
These look to be the teams in contention for the playoffs with the NL West being the wild card with all teams within four games of the Diamondbacks. So how have the Braves fared against these teams?
So far so good for the Braves, who are 17-9 against winning teams in the NL with the Cardinals being the only team they haven’t faced. Included in that record are sweeps over the Nationals, Pirates and Diamondbacks. That 17-9 mark is actually the best amongst the NL teams over .500. The Pirates (15-13) and Cardinals (14-10) both have winning records while the Diamondbacks (10-12), Nationals (11-15) and Reds (12-20) all have losing records.
The Braves have the second best run differential at plus-68 with the Cardinals leading the league with an impressive plus-112. The Pirates, Reds and Diamondbacks each have positive run differentials at 45, 44 and seven respectively while the Nationals are a minus-19.
While these numbers don’t guarantee anything for the rest of the season, they are at least encouraging news for Braves’ fans who are starving for some postseason success. It’s hard to believe but the last playoff series win for the Braves was back in 2001. Obviously there’s a long way to go to even get to the postseason, but the Braves have positioned themselves nicely to earn a berth. If that happens, the success in the first half of the season against teams in playoff contention should generate optimism about the team’s chances to advance.
It’s only July, but perhaps these numbers will offer fans a glimmer of hope that this will be the team to end that playoff drought.