Atlanta Braves Need to Play for Postseason Home-Field Advantage
The Atlanta Braves are 44-18 at home this season, compared to a much less impressive 34-34 record on the road. In Atlanta, the Braves are one of the best teams in baseball. Their pitching leads the majors with a 2.65 ERA and their batting average ranks eighth at .263. The Braves have scored 299 runs in 62 games at home, which happens to be fewer played than any of the teams with more runs scored. Watching the Braves play at home has been a real pleasure this season; when they’re in Atlanta, chances are you’re going to see great pitching and timely hitting.
To say the least, watching away games has been challenging. The Braves have been mediocre away from Atlanta; their pitching has been merely decent while their batting has been atrocious. Their away ERA ranks only tenth in the majors, sitting at a 3.78, and their slash line changes dramatically. While the Braves have put up .263/.338/.430 in Atlanta, their away statistics show they’ve put up .242/.312/.388, which ranks in the bottom half of the majors in all three categories.
In short, the Braves are bad when away. They aren’t the worst, but I wouldn’t put my money on them. In the playoffs, where a six month season can be decided in a mere nine innings, home-field advantage is essential. To get home-field advantage, Atlanta needs to finish the season with the best record in the National League. If they do, the Braves would host the first two games of the division series as well as a fifth game if needed. Home-field advantage continues into the NLCS, with it going to the team with the best regular season record.
The Pittsburgh Pirates, Los Angeles Dodgers and St. Louis Cardinals all have excellent home ERAs, ranking second through fourth respectively. If the Braves wish to find themselves playing in the Fall Classic, they need to play to their strengths which means they need more games at home. The NL East may be locked up, but Atlanta still has a lot to play for.