The Atlanta Braves have done it; they’ve won the NL East for the first time since 2005. It’s been a long time coming, and they did it with some unlikely heroes and some even more unlikely disappointments. If one were to look at the Braves’ record and position in the standings, they would never expect that Atlanta had lost their ace pitcher, that their two highest paid players hit under .200 or that the average age of their top four starters is 24 years old.
It happened in the top of the 6th inning while the Braves were playing against the Chicago Cubs. While they didn’t manage to score in that inning, they did manage to pull off the division win as the Washington Nationals were eliminated by the Miami Marlins.
This team battled and nothing came easy. Brian McCann spent a month out, Freddie Freeman had a stint of the DL, Jason Heyward still isn’t 100 percent and the bullpen looks almost completely different than it did at the beginning of April. Despite all of that, the Braves have handily won their division, a feat they had failed to achieve seven seasons in a row.
In their wake they swept 11 teams and posted a .703 home win percentage. Their best months were April when they posted .654 WP and August when they streaked again and finished with a 20-7 record, good enough for a beautiful .741 WP.
September hasn’t been pretty as the Braves are below .500 for the first time in any month. They’ve been dealing with the key injury to Heyward, but with him back I hope to see the Braves surge again.
The season’s not over for the Braves; they still need to win home field advantage by finishing with the best record in the NL. While they have a .703 WP at home, they’re only .494 on the road. That makes them the only division leader with a losing record in away games. They Braves have to minimize that weakness as much as possible by finishing strong and continuing to win until game 162 is in the books.