Has there been a baseball team this year that has hit higher highs and lower lows than the Atlanta Braves? This is a team that has had multiple ten-plus game winning streaks, but has faced injuries and dealt with statistics such as only hitting .210 for the past twenty games (as of September 25th). Yes, the Braves are streaky and these streaks are what make them one of the long-shot picks to win the World Series this year–despite an overall excellent record this year. So, what does Atlanta need to do to perform well this postseason?
- Improve Performance on the Road – According the the AJC, as of September 25th, the Atlanta Braves are one game under .500 on the road and 30 games above .500 at home. While this home record is excellent, it is nerve-wracking for a sports handicapper to try and give the Braves much credit when so many of the Braves postseason games will be played on the road.
- Finish Strong – It is easy for a team to lose focus when they clinch the division early like the Atlanta Braves did. However, they are right at the cusp where they could possibly finish with the best record in the league. Finishing with this record in place would give the Braves the Wild Card team in the first round of the playoffs. With the new Wild Card playoffs, this is a bigger advantage than ever–since the Wild Card team will likely have already used their best pitcher to clinch the position.
- Stay Healthy – Jason Heyward’s month-long stay on the disabled list after a fractured jaw was just one of several major injuries that have plagued the team this year. When the team has been healthy, they have performed much better than when they were muddling through with a less-than-ideal roster. If the heavy hitters and strong pitchers can stay off the DL, the team will find that victory is within reach.
Handicapping baseball is a challenge. Even as the postseason approaches, there is no clear favorite to win the World Series. With so many little things affecting the performance of the team, it can be hard to get things straight. Plus, with the multi-round system in place, an early mistake can cause a team that seemingly has it in the bag to not even make it to the series. More so than most years, the 2013 postseason looks to be exciting, particularly in the National League, and in no small part due to the Braves and their exciting ups and downs. Both fans of the Atlanta Braves and their detractors have to admit that it will be a lot of fun to watch the team and find out if they can overcome the odds to win their way into the World Series–and perhaps even have a shot at winning!