If it's not the constant updates on Yasiel Puig in his first season, it's how the pitching staff is the best thing since sliced bread. Because of that, many believe them to be favorites to represent the National League in the World Series.
However, why is it that the Dodgers continue to receive this praise when another NL team is playing just as good of baseball?
The Atlanta Braves currently sit with the best record in all of baseball at 85-54, and are two games up on the Dodgers for home-field advantage.
So, what is it? Is it the bright lights of Hollywood shining for the Dodgers or is it the fact that ESPN has become the personal cheerleader for the team? Any way you look at it, both teams are playing just as good as the other, but yet the Dodgers are the only ones receiving the attention.
So, let's look at some of the stats:
|Braves||606 (4th)||160 (1st)||.253 (7th)||.732 (2nd)||392 (6th)|
|Dodgers||571 (6th)||111 (12th)||.268 (2nd)||.726 (4th)||367 (13th)|
When we look at the numbers, the only one the Dodgers lead in is average. That could be attributed to the Braves' high number of strikeouts (1,186) compared to the Dodgers' (973). But the Braves have also taken 53 more walks (466-413).
Other than that, the Braves have scored more runs, are hitting a lot more home runs and hitting with more power in general. So, it can’t be the offense as to why the Dodgers are receiving more recognition than the Braves.
But what about pitching? Surely the Dodgers have an advantage there since they have Clayton Kershaw, Zack Greinke, Hyun-Jin Ryu and Ricky Nolasco.
|Braves||3.19 (1st)||86 (1st)||1,054 (8th)||.241 (3rd)||1.19 (2nd)|
|Dodgers||3.23 (3rd)||79 (4th)||1,101 (2nd)||.245 (4th)||1.23 (3rd)|
So you mean to tell me the Braves are ahead of the Dodgers in four out of five pitching categories as well? For a team that has such a dominant rotation, you would think they would have more quality starts than a young, inexperienced rotation in Atlanta.
While the difference isn’t that big between some categories, it’s still a difference nonetheless. But yet, the team trailing is considered to be the favorite.
Let's Be Honest
I'll be honest in saying that I would love to have Kershaw, Greinke and Ryu to start the first three games of any playoff series for me.
But when it comes to playing the Braves, none of those hurlers have dominated Atlanta.
Kershaw hasn't picked up a decision in four starts against the Braves, garnering a 2.45 ERA in 29.1 innings. Ryu's been more successful with a 2.13 ERA in 12.2 innings. Greinke did dominate the Braves earlier this year, giving up no runs in seven innings. But he also has an ERA of 3.50 in his career against Atlanta, including a 5.73 mark at Turner Field.
The trio of pitchers is good, but they are beatable.
The biggest knock on the Braves rotation is they don't have any playoff experience outside of Kris Medlen's start in last year's Wild-Card Game.
For the record, Kershaw has a career 5.87 postseason ERA, while Greinke's stands at 6.48. So, it's not like either have had success in the playoffs.
Even with Tim Hudson out for the year, the Braves still have Mike Minor and Julio Teheran who will take the ball in the first two games of a series.
Minor has given up three runs in 12 innings against the Dodgers this year and has a lifetime ERA of 2.32 against the Dodgers. Teheran has never faced the Dodgers, so you don't know what you're getting there.
Putting fandom aside, who would win in a playoff series?
Then there's Kris Medlen (likely Game 3 starter), who has given up no runs in 13.2 innings against the Dodgers this year. In fact, in his career he has a 1.23 ERA against the Dodgers.
So, What Is It?
The numbers clearly show the Dodgers have no advantage over the Braves. In fact, it is the Braves who have multiple advantages.
Atlanta is 5-2 against Los Angeles this year, outscoring the Dodgers 27-17.
While I'm not saying the Braves will sweep the Dodgers, I am saying the Braves deserve a little more respect than what they're getting.
They have been playing just as good of baseball as the Dodgers but are still considered the underdogs.
Regardless, the teams will have to meet up in a series to determine who is the best.