Over the weekend, the Atlanta Braves took on the Los Angeles Dodgers in a much-anticipated series between the two best teams in the National League. Could the Dodgers send a message to the Braves that they were on the same level as favorites to come out of the NL?
Nope. The Braves went into Los Angeles and took three out of four games, asserting themselves as the clear favorite to come out of the National League.
In our most recent power ranking, the Braves were finally ranked in the top spot as the best team in baseball. The more and more you sit back and unpack it, there is not another team in baseball that is on the same level as the Braves.
Simply put, the Braves are the best team in the game right now and that makes them the overwhelming favorites to win it all this season.
The Favorites to Win it All?
According to our partners at BetMGM, the Atlanta Braves are the favorites to win the World Series this year, as they currently are sitting with +275 odds. The second-best team when it comes to the odds is the Dodgers, who are sitting at +400.
We just saw these two teams play head-to-head and the Braves had the clear advantage. Atlanta is the first team in baseball to reach 90 wins this season and with a 90-46 record, they are six full games better than the Los Angeles Dodgers (84-52).
That’s not even to mention the latest news surrounding the Dodgers and their starting pitcher Julio Urias, who was just arrested on felony domestic violence charges. Urias was suspended earlier in his career for domestic violence, and as a repeat offender, it is all but certain he is done for the year, if not way longer once MLB completes their investigation into the charges.
The Dodgers will still win their division and be a threat come October, but the Braves are definitely the favorite in the National League. Beyond them the Phillies are the team with the next-best odds, sitting at +1600.
We all saw what Philly was capable of last postseason, but that just speaks to the randomness of October and how any of these team can get hot at the right time and make a run. The Phillies have the talent to do it again, but the odds show just how overwhelming of a favorite the Braves are.
On the other side of the bracket, the American League is a gauntlet. The Astros are the betting favorite at +700, due to their pedigree as reigning champs. Behind them, the Orioles sit at +900 and the Rangers, Mariners and Rays all sit at +1100.
The American League playoffs will be a bloodbath, with the Minnesota Twins being the only team that will enter the dance who does not look like a World Series contender. The wide-open nature of the NL gives the Braves an edge, but really when it comes down to the numbers, they are the favorite because they have been the best.
Why the Braves Are the Best Team in Baseball
There are times where run differential is not the end-all-be-all when it comes to comparing baseball teams, but it can also paint a pretty clear picture. When it comes to the Braves, that is certainly the case, as Atlanta is overwhelmingly the best team in baseball with a +239 run differential.
Behind the Braves, the Rays sit at +188, the Rangers at +168 and the Dodgers at +166. Atlanta doesn’t just beat teams, they destroy them.
The Braves are leading MLB with 259 home runs hit this season. Their team slash line is that of a borderline All-Star, as the Braves are hitting .275/.344/.500, with a 125 wRC+. They literally lead Major League Baseball in every major offensive statistic, outside of stolen bases. And yet, MLB’s stolen base leader is on the Braves, in Ronald Acuna Jr.
Back in 2019, the Minnesota Twins set a record by having five hitters reach 30 home runs in the same season. The Braves still have 26 games left to play, and if Ozzie Albies hits two more home runs, they will join the Twins as the second team to ever accomplish that feat.
Matt Olson leads the team with 44 home runs, with Marcel Ozuna, Austin Riley and Acuna are all tied for the second-most on the team with 32. Eddie Rosario and Sean Murphy have each eclipsed the 20-home run mark as well, giving the Braves seven hitters who have reached it this season.
Reaching 30 home runs is probably a long shot for either Rosario or Murphy, but if both get to 25, the Braves would set a new MLB record for the most 25-HR hitters on one team. The 2019 Twins and the 2003 Red Sox each had six hitters reach 25 home runs.
Moving even further down the batting order, Orlando Arcia is three home runs away from hitting 20 and Michael Harris II is sitting at 13. With a hot month from Harris and another solid one from Arcia, the Braves could actually feature nine 20-HR hitters on one team.
The aforementioned 2019 Minnesota Twins hold the MLB record for most home runs hit by a team in a single season with 307. Currently sitting at 259 home runs with 26 games to play, the Braves are on pace to hit 308.5 home runs this year.
The league average OPS is .735 this season, which is actually the exact OPS of Braves backup catcher Travis d’Arnaud. Above him, Atlanta features nine hitters with an OPS of .784 or higher, five of which who have an OPS over 100 points higher than league average.
This Braves lineup is an absolute juggernaut top-to-bottom. There is not a single team in baseball who can match them when it comes to their depth, particularly in the slugging department. We have seen it time and again in October. The teams who can hit home runs tend to fair pretty well.
Because of their firepower, the Braves are the best team in baseball and the team to beat this postseason.
Do the Braves Have Enough Pitching?
Not only do the Braves feature the best offense in baseball, they also boast one of the league’s best pitching staffs. They currently rank third-best in team ERA (3.78), fourth-best in team fWAR (16.6), and they lead the league in K/9 (9.51).
Atlanta’s top three starters of Spencer Strider, Charlie Morton and Bryce Elder have been among the most consistent trios of any rotation in baseball this year. Each has made 27 starts and has pitched over 150 innings, all while keep their ERA’s below 3.60.
Strider features the worst ERA of the group at 3.56, but is leading all of MLB with his 13.84 K/9. Morton leads the rotation with his 3.32 ERA and is still striking out plenty of batters with his 9.97 K/9. Meanwhile Elder doesn’t feature the big swing-and-miss stuff (6.43 K/9), yet has found a way to get outs and keep the ball in the yard (0.87 HR/9).
The Braves have really gotten by all year with just those three constants in their rotation, but finally added their former ace back into the equation last month.
Max Fried missed most of this season dealing with a forearm strain, but returned to the Braves rotation on August 4th. The left-hander made five starts in August and pitched to a 3.58 ERA. He then went up against the Dodgers on Saturday and made his best start yet.
Fried posted seven scoreless innings, allowing just three hits and two walks, while striking out a season-best 10 batters. With Fried looking to be in peak form, the Braves will have a great four-man rotation come October.
Add in a bullpen that has posted a 3.43 ERA this season, which is tied with the Seattle Mariners for the second-best mark in MLB behind only the Yankees. Atlanta’s bullpen has been consistently great for years now and features plenty of veterans who have playoff experience.
With the best offense in the game and one of the best pitching staffs, the only excuse for the Braves not to win it all this season is the randomness of playoff baseball. Other than that, there is no team out there who should be considered the favorites over the Atlanta Braves.