Lately there has been a lot of talk about how the Braves are largely ignored by the media. Buster Olney and Tim Kurkjian of ESPN are probably the only ones that give Atlanta any credit for the remarkable year they have had. Everyone else seems to think it has more to do with the Phillies injuries and less to do with the great play of the Braves. It’s just like the Phillies and their fans to complain about injuries and never give credit where credit is due.
Yes, Philadelphia has had a slew of injuries this year. But Atlanta lost Jair Jurrjens for a significant amount of time at the beginning of the season. Chipper Jones is out for the year. So is Kris Medlen. Heyward, Diaz, and Prado have also missed time. What did Atlanta do while they were gone? They won. They continued to win even though Yunel Escobar wasn’t hitting and Kawakami was giving up a crooked number every game. They won despite the lack of big names that according to ESPN is the formula for winning championships. They keep winning. But it’s Philadelphia that gets all the credit. I have been hearing for over a month now that the Phillies are going to overtake the Braves and take the division. Just last week I heard Eric Karabell (An insufferable Phillies homer) say that he has Atlanta missing the playoffs all together. Just last night Aaron Boone said the Philles will take over the division.
If the Yankees or Red Sox ever won 14 division titles, we would still be hearing about it. But since the Braves did it, there is always an asterisk attached to it saying they only won a single World Series during that time. The Phillies went to consecutive World Series and all of a sudden they are the greatest team anyone has ever seen. The Braves went to 5 of them in less than 10 years. Philly has a long way to go to even come close to that.
Guys like Chipper Jones are never looked at the way Derek Jeter is. Jeter has got to be the most overrated POS I have ever seen. Jones has to be the most underrated and it’s because he is a Brave. If Jeter played for the Royals, nobody would care about him. Jones is not only one of the greatest switch-hitters of all time, but what he does for the Atlanta organization off the field speaks volumes for what kind of guy he is. Few people know that Chipper has restructured his contract several times to allow Atlanta to pick up more and better players.
So let’s get to the matter at hand. Here is the comparison between Atlanta and Philadelphia.
The easiest thing to start with is the record. Philadelphia stole a game in the standings earlier this season against Florida and Atlanta still leads the division by 3 games. Here is a short comparison of some of the important statistics:
The Braves own a 78-55 record. That is tops in the National League. On top of that they have the best home record in Major League Baseball. Guess where the Phillies are going for their final 3 games? Atlanta has a run differential of +132 while Philly stands at +76. The Braves have a better batting average and ERA as well. They are batting .262 while the pitching staff boasts a 3.52 Earned Run Average. That is good for 3rd in all of baseball. Philly is batting .255 and giving up 3.75 runs a game. That's still not bad but Atlanta is bests them in both categories. This doesn’t even include the 527 Walks and .343 on-Base percentage Atlanta has. By comparison Philadelphia has managed 447 walks and their OBP is at .324.
The Braves probably have the best bench in baseball. Their bullpen has to rank among the elite as well. These so-called experts have never let up when it comes to their prediction that the Phillies will take the NL East and the entire National League. After only 3 seasons they can't be stopped apparently. But only after the second NL crown for Atlanta, they were always being picked to lose the Division to someone else. But they kept winning. 14 years in a row.
The greatest thing about being a Braves fan is getting to say I told you so at the end of 2010.