I guess this isn't too surprising, but as it turns out, it is difficult to beat a good team by using its own castoffs. The Royals' roster coming in to their series in Atlanta was nearly 1/4 former Braves, not to mention a coach and a GM that apprenticed in the Braves' organization. While the Junior Braves did manage to keep each game close, they only actually led for 3 innings in the entire series. It was a good effort (this series was much more competitive than the Braves' other recent sweeps over the Phillies, Pirates, and Brewers), but it's clear that the apprentice has not yet surpassed the master.
I know I harped on this earlier, but it should be noted that the Royals just lost 3 straight close games (2 of which were tied in the late innings) and did not use their best reliever (Joakim Soria) in the entire series. While you can certainly lay some blame on Robinson Tejeda and Blake Wood for giving up the winning runs on Saturday and Sunday, respectively, I feel like the greater blame lies on Royals manager Ned Yost. It's just criminal to let a dominant reliever rot in the bullpen as your other (decent, but not great) relievers give away games. So thank you, Ned. We Braves fans appreciate your largess.
It was a profitable series for the Braves, who picked up 2 games on both the Mets and Phillies, and now have easily the best record and run differential in the NL. They have not lost in their past 13 series (a 29-10 record in that span) and have won 14 of 15 at home. They're also 7-2 in interleague play so far. Though this team is not perfect, it sure looks like the best team in the NL right now.
Here are links to the Talking Chop recaps and the FanGraphs pages for each game:
Series Awards and Unawards after the jump.
Braves' Hitting MVPs
Chipper Jones-- 5/9, 3 BB, 2 2B, 3 R, 6 RBI, SB, 2 K, and a whopping 0.584 WPA
Troy Glaus-- 1/9, 4 BB, walkoff HR, 3 R, 2 RBI, and a 0.552 WPA (way to make your 1 hit count, Troy!)
Eric Hinske-- 3/11, BB, 2B, 2 R, 2 RBI, 3 K, 0.259 WPA
Martin Prado-- 5/13, BB, 2 2B, 2 R, SB, K, 0.171 WPA
Melky Cabrera-- 5/12, BB, 2B, 2 R, 2 RBI, 0.116 WPA
Royals' Pitching MVP
Victor Marte-- 2.2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, BB, 2 K, 0.154 WPA
(Marte was the only Royals pitcher with a WPA above 0.008 for the series)
Braves' Pitching LVP
Kenshin Kawakami -- 2 IP, 6 H, 5 R (4 ER), 0 BB, 1 K, fielding error, and a -0.277 WPA
Royals' Pitching LVPs
Brian Bannister -- 4 IP, 7 H, 5 R, 3 BB, 2 K, and a -0.396 WPA
Kyle Davies -- 4.1 IP, 4 H, 4 R, 7 BB, 6 K, -0.229 WPA
Robinson Tejeda-- 0 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 1 HR, 0 BB, 0 K, -0.375 WPA
Blake Wood-- 2 IP, 4 H, 3 R, 2 BB, 1 K, -0.274 WPA
It's interesting that none of the Royals' hitters were that great or that bad in the series. DeJesus had 4 doubles, but barely had a positive WPA. Alberto Callaspo had 5 hits but had a very bad WPA on the series (-0.136). Mike Aviles had a terrible WPA but got on base 4 times and scored 3 runs. All of the Royals' hitters were more or less mediocre.
Another interesting fact is that no starting pitcher for either team had a positive WPA (Kris Medlen was very close, though, at -0.007). The difference in the series was that the Braves' bullpen was much better than its Royals' counterpart.
Great sweep, boys! Enjoy your off day, then get right back to it. Let's keep winning series!