Braves vs. Red Sox: Whose Wild Card Collapse Would Be Most Debilitating?

Will BrownContributor ISeptember 26, 2011

WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 24: Chipper Jones #10 of the Atlanta Braves walks to bat against the Washington Nationals in the eighth inning at Nationals Park on September 24, 2011 in Washington, DC. The Washington Nationals won, 4-1. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
Patrick Smith/Getty Images

The Atlanta Braves and Boston Red Sox came into September with the wild card spot in the playoffs seemingly locked up. They were both teams that had dominated at times, the Braves with pitching, the Red Sox with hitting. They were considered two of the best teams in the league and definite World Series contenders.

Oh, how things change.

To decide which collapse would be most debilitating, let's first have a recap of where things were as we entered September.

The Braves sat with a record of 81-55 and were 8.5 games up on the St. Louis Cardinals. They have seen that lead shrink to just one game thanks to an 8-15 record this month. 

The Braves offense hasn't exactly been great all year, but it has been just awful in September. It looks even worse because they really have needed it to step up with some of the injuries they've had with the pitching staff.

ESPN says that the Braves have a 63.4 percent chance of making the playoffs.

Now to the Red Sox.

The boys from Boston were sitting in first place in their division by .5 games, while the Yankees were 8.5 games up on the Tampa Bay Rays in the wild card. Their record was 83-53 at the time, the second best record int he league.

Since then, they have fallen to second place in their division and are up just one game over those same Rays. This happened because of a record of just 5-17 this month. The main culprit for the Red Sox has been very bad pitching and a bit of a fall with their offense.

NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 25: David Ortiz #34 of the Boston Red Sox walks to the dugout after being out on base against the New York Yankees on September 25, 2011 at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx borough of New York City.  (Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images)
Nick Laham/Getty Images

ESPN says that the Red Sox have a 88.4 percent chance of making the playoffs.

So, as we stand today, which team's collapse would be worse?

Well, the Braves were thriving off of their pitching this whole season with just some situational hitting. Once their pitching started to wear down, the team began to struggle. They now have a three game series against the Philadelphia Phillies, the best in baseball. If they can win two of the games, then the Cardinals will have to win out against the Houston Astros

The Red Sox, on the other hand, had some terrible pitching throughout the month and did fall from first place as well in their own division. They have three games left against the Baltimore Orioles, one of the worst teams in baseball. The Rays have three more games against the Yankees coming up.

So it would seem more likely, as the percentages show, that the Braves are more likely to be out of the playoffs. This doesn't make it any worse, though, as I would go for the Red Sox.

My biggest reason is the difference in payrolls. Because of their of $167 million payroll, the Red Sox came into the season as one of the three biggest World Series favorites with the Yankees and Phillies. The Braves payroll is "just" $101 million this year.

The Braves were once of the favorites, but weren't quite as much as the Red Sox coming into the season.

I would go with the Red Sox, who are way more talented offensively and do have talent pitching wise, though the numbers don't really show it. It's by the slimmest of margins, though, as both teams seemed to have a playoff spot locked up 30 days ago.