June 1, 2013; Atlanta, GA, USA; Atlanta Braves center fielder B.J. Upton (2) celebrates with teammates after a walk-off single in the tenth inning against the Washington Nationals at Turner Field. The Braves won 2-1. Mandatory Credit: Daniel Shirey-USA TODAY Sports

Braves: The Road Ahead

I always laugh a little when I hear people claim they can run numbers and predict how a player or a team is going to do.  You can project all you want, but in the end things rarely turn out exactly how we envision, and when they get close, you can just as easily say it was pure luck or a happy turn of chance as much as you can say your calculation skills are the stuff of legend.  You can probably rely on what you see, and your gut instincts much more than any numbers, and thus we bring back to life the ongoing debate between traditionalists and number crunchers or sabermetrists.  Baseball wouldn’t be as much fun for me if I could easily predict outcomes, and while I, too, am a stat geek and love the mental wool gathering, I know that however a team’s fortunes come out in September, it has little to do with any of my projections.

All that said, we have to run some numbers in order to continue this business of writing about baseball.  Otherwise, everything would just be man-cave grunts or talk around the proverbial water cooler.  I’m going to look at few numbers in this article, and try and project how Atlanta might do as the team approaches the break, and then prepares to head into the 2nd half of the season.  Yes, I’m going to try and let the numbers do some projecting, and then we’ll talk about my gut instincts as well.

The Atlanta Brave’s home record and away record are decidedly different.  With an overall record of 39-27 (and three failed chances most recently against a sub .500 team to get that 40th win), the Braves have played much better at home than away.  At home, the Braves have a 21-7 record, or a whopping .750 winning percentage.  Away, the Braves are playing like the aforementioned sub .500 team we just played, with a disappointing 18-20 record and a .474 winning percentage.  Those simple numbers obviously show, at least so far, that the Braves will be better served playing at home than on the road.  The good news?  Atlanta has more home games left in the season than road games.  The bad news?  Those numbers are only reliable to a certain degree, and thus cannot be relied upon for wins.  Yes, even when at home the Braves actually have to play well, field the best team, and get W’s in the win column when playing at Turner Field!  We can only hope that the numbers will be an accurate projection for the remainder of the season, because if they are, well that’s good news indeed.  Let’s take a closer look.

For the rest of the season, the Atlanta Braves will play 52 home games, and 43 away games, which is almost a 10 game differential.  That’s wonderful news if the Braves can continue to play at home as well as they have so far, but it’s easy enough to argue that just a 10 game differential doesn’t really amount to much.  In other words, it is good news that we have more home games, because home field advantage, in my opinion, is a very real advantage.  That said, if you’re putting all your eggs in that basket for hopes of a successful September and a joyful October, you might end up with yoke on your face.

The Road (and Home) Ahead – Remainder of June

Perhaps a closer look at who the Atlanta Braves will actually be playing will be helpful in projecting how the rest of the season will play out.

Home games for the Braves for the rest of June will feature the following:

  • Three game series with the San Francisco Giants (33-31 with a road record of 12-20)
  • A 5 game set with the New York Mets (24-36 with a road record of 11-16), including a double-header w/ makeup game
  • A three game series with the Arizona Diamondbacks (37-29 with a road record of 20-15).  

Away games during the remainder of June include:

  • Three game series against the Milwaukee Brewers (27-38 with a home record of 16-20).
  • Two game set against the Kansas City Royals (30-33 with a home record of 17-16)

No series is ever easy, even against the struggling Mets or Brewers, and even while the remainder of June has more games at home for the Braves than away, those series’ will not be easy by any stretch with one team that has played better on the road than the Braves have.  The Braves split a two game series with the Royals back in April, have not seen the Brewers yet this season, are just 3-2 overall in series game versus the Mets, 1-2 overall in games versus the Diamondbacks, and 1-3 overall in games versus the Giants.  In short, June could go either way, despite a remaining 10 games at home and just 5 away left in the month.

The Road Ahead – July

 Home games during July include:

  • Three game series against the Miami Marlins (19-46 with a road record of 8-24)
  • Four game series against the Cincinnati Reds (40-26 with a road record of 18-15)
  • Three game series against the St. Louis Cardinals (42-23 with a road record of 23-11)
  • Four game series against the Colorado Rockies (35-31 with a road record of 14-16)
Away games during July include:
  • Three game series against the Philadelphia Phillies (31-35 with a home road record of 16-15)
  • Three game series against the Miami Marlins (19-46 with a home record of  11-22
  • Three game series against the Chicago White Sox (28-35 with a home record of 16-14)
  • Four game series against the New York Mets (24-36 with a home record of 13-20)
July could be a rougher month for the Braves, with 13 games both at home and away.  The good news could be playing the Marlins twice during July, as the Braves swept the severely struggling Marlins once already this season.  The Red, Cardinals, and Rockies will be another story, as all three teams are above .500, both the Reds and Rockies took 1 game in respective three game sets against the Braves, they’ve all proven to be good road teams, and the Cardinals are simply dangerous.  Even though the Braves have struggled on the road, during July the road might be a touch easier facing teams who have struggled away and at home.  Like June, I would project July to be a toss-up that could go either way, especially with an equal amount of home and away games.

The Road Ahead – August and September Summary

In an effort to keep this look ahead a touch shorter, suffice it to say that August and September are toss-ups that could go either way as well.  Really, isn’t every game, every series, and every month really a toss-up?  The Braves will have slightly more home games than away during the month of August, with 15 played at home, and 12 away.  During August, at home the Braves will play division rivals and struggling Marlins two series, as well as division rivals Phillies and Nationals one series apiece.  The Braves will also see the Cleveland Indians (32-33 with a  14-21 away record) at Turner Field.  The Braves road games will be against the Phillies, Nationals, Mets, and the dangerous Cardinals.  August is shaping up based on current numbers to look like both agony and ecstasy for the Atlanta Braves.

September will begin at home for the Braves against the Mets, and then later in the month the San Diego Padres (who swept the Braves) will come to Atlanta to see if they can fare that well again against the Braves on the road.  The Braves will then close out the season at home, which is always a good thing, against the Brewers and Phillies.  September could potentially be the easiest, and thus perhaps the most important month for the Atlanta Braves, depending on how previous months go.

Other Factors

Again, trying to project how a season will go this far out of September is a difficult task.  On paper, the Braves should be able to finish the season pretty much where they are now, somewhere between 3 and 7 games up atop the NL East.  All the math, projections, and prognostications won’t make that happen though if the Braves don’t play like they should.  Much of Atlanta’s success will depend on their ability to continue playing at home as they have been, and not totally blowing up when on the road.  Other factors also include trades and moves the Braves may make before the end of July and August.  If the Braves can solve some of the woes they’ve experienced with slumping batters, issues with middle relief and closers, and stay healthy going down the stretch, 2013 could be a banner year.  What does my gut and my eye tell me?  If the Braves hope to see October, drastic changes need to be made to solve some of those slump woes previously mentioned, and good moves at the deadlines are almost a must.  Despite having more home games than away left in 2013, if solutions are not found to some of those current issues, my gut tells me 2013 will end with the same disappointment as last year.

Tags: Atlanta Braves FanSided

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