After doing some thinking and some analysis of statistics, I've notice that there is a strong correlation between the 2010 edition of the San Francisco Giants and the 2011 Atlanta Braves. You may recall that the Giants won the World Series last year.
DISCLAIMER! I am not insinuating that the Braves are going to win the World Series this year, however, the similarities between these two teams is fairly stark, in my opinion. I'm also not much of a stat head, but I think I can illustrate some statistics that demonstrate the common ground in between these two teams. Let's take a look at some numbers:
I'll start out with some basic statistics. Through 62 games this season, the Atlanta Braves are 35-28 (with a Pythagorean W-L record of 36-27.) Through 62 games last season, the Giants were 36-27. So, there's that.
The Giants had a team batting average of .257, a team OPS of .729, and a team batting WAR of 18.0.
The Braves have a team batting average of .241, a team OPS of .688, and a projected team batting WAR of 11.0 (162/62 games played=2.61 x current team WAR of 4.2).
The Giants were a significant margin better than the Braves are offensively. Can we expect this disparity to even itself up as the law of averages take into effect during the season? Maybe. My guess is that the Braves will have a little more luck with keeping their players healthy during the season, and I expect (hope) that players such as Jason Heyward and Dan Uggla will begin to bring a little bit more to the table offensively. My guess is that this team will finish with an offensive WAR around 13 or 14.
The Giants had a team ERA of 3.36, a team WHIP of 1.271, and a team pitching WAR of 22.6
The Braves have a team ERA of 2.99, a team WHIP of 1.148, and a projected team pitching WAR of 32.9.
Do I think that the Braves' pitching is going to continue at the astonishing rate at which it is currently performing? Eh, no. Pitchers wear down as the pressure of a 162-game season wears on. I do, however, believe that the Braves' pitching staff as a whole in 2011 is stronger than that of the Giants' in 2010. What do I expect in terms of WAR from the Braves' pitchers when the season is completed? My guess would be around 28. Both teams have excellent pitching staffs with solid bullpens. Jurrjens has performed much better than any of the Giants' pitchers (to this point), and the Giants have an advantage at closer with 2010 Brian Wilson over Craig Kimbrel (although if you want to consider Venters as a closer, that advantage also goes to the Braves.)
The Giants had a team fielding percentage of .988.
The Braves have a team fielding percentage of .987.
I'll be the first to admit that I am not very knowledgeable about fielding statistics, but this would indicate that these two teams are fairly equal in terms of their capacity to field the ball.
This is a fairly rudimentary (and quickly put-together) analysis, but I thought I'd illustrate the similarities between these two teams. Are they carbon copies of each other? Obviously not. The Giants were a bit more balanced between hitting and pitching than the Braves currently are, however, by the end of the season, I expect that gap for the Braves to narrow a bit. I wouldn't expect it to be THAT much different than the types of numbers that the Giants ended their season with.
Let me know what you think.