Seeing as our friends over at Lasorda’s Lair came up with 5… really only 4…maybe 4-1/2… reasons for why their team will prevail in this week’s NL Division Series against Atlanta, that couldn’t go without a response from our side, right?
So yes – of course we have five reasons of our own to crow about.
Reason #1 – Home Field Advantage.
A “Joe DiMaggio-esque” Fifty-six and Twenty-five. 31 games above .500. No other team in baseball matched that. Only five other teams hit 50 home wins… and the Dodgers weren’t one of them.
Lasorda’s Lair points out that the LA Blue Crew was the best road team in baseball, though they conveniently neglected to mention their OH AND THREE mark at Turner Field… never mind that the Dodgers had trouble defending their own turf – just 9 games above water, including a 2-2 record vs. Atlanta. They’d better hold serve this time: they only have two chances (at most).
Reason #2 – Freddie Freeman and Andrelton Simmons
In short: offense and defense. Freddie Freeman won’t win the MVP, but he’ll get some votes. Clearly, he’s the most dangerous hitter in the lineup – no matter what the count, no matter what the situation. When RBI are at stake, he’s at his best. He doesn’t guess at your pitch - he hits your pitch. Oh, and he’s homered against Clayton Kershaw.
Andrelton Simmons had 499 assists this year at shortstop. He led the world in that and in Defensive Runs Saved. He makes a good pitching staff great. And in this series, he’ll be paired with Elliot Johnson at second base. Talk about being ‘strong up the middle’? This is akin to a hermetically sealed bag of defense.
Is this the part where I should mention that the Dodgers were 6th in baseball in errors this year?
Reason #3 – The Offense
Yes, the Braves have indeed been using a ‘feast or famine’ approach this year. But that offense has still scored 39 more runs than the Dodgers over the course of the year. And the run differential advantage is 73. The big thing here is that an opposing pitching staff can never relax: almost every spot in the lineup can go yard at any time. Eight Braves had 10+ homers for the year… and we’re not even gonna use one of them this week. Only six Dodgers can say that… and last I heard, one is questionable for the series.
Reason #4 – the Bullpen
In short, the Braves have one. The #1 bullpen in all of baseball, as a matter of fact. And it doesn’t really matter how it’s been cobbled together – they’re doing it despite having Eric O’Flaherty and Jonny Venters in traction. When Craig Kimbrel comes into the game… the game is over.
I gotta give the Dodgers some credit, though: after that disasterous showing in May – at Turner Field – their brass did go out and find some help that appears to be working for them. In the second half, the Dodgers’ bullpen ERA is now 4th best in baseball at 2.76.
Of course the Braves’ ERA over that time was still a half run better.
Reason #5 – The Waffle House
I could have ranted on about the pitching, or the outfield defense, or the bench, or El Oso Blanco…. whatever.
There’s this mystique about a stadium with its traditions, and Turner Field started a new one this Summer. The Waffle House. Oddly enough, I like them more for their hash browns. Maybe it’s that whole Smothered/Scattered/Covered/Chunked/etc. thing on their menu, but you just gotta love it.
I’m pretty sure that Californians wouldn’t understand.
The Braves sure did, though – rattling off 13 straight wins after it was installed in the halls of the stadium in July. I mean – heck, how can you not just love a place that has its own Braves’ video highlights song?
So, I’m sorry guys: the Braves just have better reasons for winning this weekend. Oh, you’ll probably take a game…. maybe even two with some luck. But I would suggest some hash browns to cheer you up afterwards.
Don’t wanna leave you feeling Blue.