MLB Playoffs 2013: 5 Reasons Why Atlanta Braves Will Not Win World Series
The Atlanta Braves Will Not Win It All
What makes a World Series Championship team?
Is it dominant pitching or an offense that scores more than John Mayer? Is timely hitting the most crucial factor or is it more important to have a defense that can make every play? Do you even have a prayer without a closer who can slam the door in the ninth – the most difficult three outs of the game (Texas Rangers fans nodding their heads). Maybe it’s all of the above, or at the very least some combination of these winning qualities.
Perhaps the answer lies in some advanced sabermetrics; or maybe it’s completely intangible – some sort of winning atmosphere that only exists within the championship team’s clubhouse (Boston Red Sox fans excitedly stroking their beards).
We’ll find out what makes a championship team soon enough – but the Atlanta Braves will not be the team who provides the answer.
They have some outstanding young pitchers, a great bullpen and their offense is led by a legitimate MVP candidate in Freddie Freeman. But there’s nothing scary about them like the Red Sox offense or Los Angeles Dodgers pitching staff. They are extremely beatable.
The Braves are currently one game behind the St. Louis Cardinals for the best record in the National League. I’ve previously argued that despite all the wins the Braves have accumulated this season, they are not the best team in baseball. Now that they’ve clinched the NL East and are officially heading to the postseason, it’s time to take it one step further: the Atlanta Braves will not win the World Series this year.
These are five reasons why.
5. Mediocre on the Road
The Braves went 40-41 on the road this year. True, most championship teams do not play as well on the road, but here’s a list of other World Series favorites and their records away from home:
Boston Red Sox, 43-35
Detroit Tigers, 42-36
Oakland Athletics, 42-36
St. Louis Cardinals, 43-38
Los Angeles Dodgers, 45-35
The Braves are the only division winner with a sub-.500 record on the road. If they don’t lock up home field advantage, they’ll have to beat teams away from Turner Field if they want to advance. Considering how poorly they play on the road and how well playoff teams tend to play at home, the Braves could be in serious trouble.
4. Not Much Offense Beyond Freddie Freeman and Chris Johnson
The Braves have two phenomenal hitters in Freddie Freeman and Chris Johnson – and not much else.
They have a team batting average of .247 – good for 21st in the Majors – and they’re 14th in runs scored. Furthermore, two of their starters, BJ Upton and Dan Uggla, are batting well under the Mendoza Line (.184 and .181, respectively).
Johnson and Freeman will not be enough to beat the likes of Clayton Kershaw, nor will they supply enough power to deliver the Braves a World Series Championship.
3. Weak Schedule
The Braves have racked up wins against bad teams all year. They play in the NL East, a division in which four of the five teams were below .500 for majority of the season.
But this trend goes beyond divisional play. In the second half of the season, the Braves have played 10 games against playoff teams – and that’s only of the Cleveland Indians lock up an AL Wild Card spot (seven games against the Cardinals, three against the Indians). Moreover, seven of those games were played at home.
World Series teams are battle-tested but the Braves have not been challenged all year.
2. Lack of Postseason Experience
The Braves do not have a veteran leader with successful playoff experience. The Tigers have basically the same roster that went to the World Series a year ago. The Red Sox have Dustin Pedroia, Jacoby Ellsbury, Jon Lester and David Ortiz – all of whom have rings. The Braves do not have anyone like that.
Brian McCaan and BJ Upton have both gone to the postseason three times, but McCaan has never made it past the first round, and Upton only has once. Justin Upton has only been to the postseason once with the Arizona Diamondbacks and Freeman’s October resume consists of a Wild Card playoff loss to the Cardinals last year.
Chris Johnson has never played in the postseason.
World Series teams need guys who have been there before, guys who the team can turn to in crucial moments. Other teams have them – the Braves do not.
1. No Momentum Heading into October
Regular season record is meaningless come playoff time. It’s all about how well a team is playing heading into October – and the Braves have been terrible.
They’re 7-8 in their last fifteen games. During that span, the Braves had a chance to deal the final blow to their division rival, the Nationals, much like the Red Sox did to the New York Yankees and the A’s did to the Rangers. The Braves could have eliminated the Nationals from playoff contention. Instead, Washington took two out of three.
Moreover, Atlanta has gotten media attention not for playing well down the stretch, or adding an exciting young player to their postseason roster, but for altercations after allowing home runs to opposing batters.
Unlike the Cardinals, Pirates and Reds who have had to fight for their playoff spots, the Braves head into October with zero momentum whatsoever.