Jul 28, 2013; Atlanta, GA, USA; Atlanta Braves right fielder Jason Heyward (22) hits a home run against the St. Louis Cardinals during the third inning at Turner Field. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY SportsThe Atlanta braves finished off one of their most satisfying series of the season by sweeping the St Louis Cardinals over the weekend. The Cardinals came into the series leading the National League in wRC+ and fWAR, while also sporting the best record in baseball. The Braves beating that team three straight times is an impressive achievement that suggests the Braves are a legitimate contender in the National League.
The Cardinals came into the series with the best OBP in the National League and leading baseball in batting average with runners in scoring position. The former is a much more reliable barometer for measuring offensive effectiveness as it is more sustainable over a large sample size. What was most impressive about the way the Braves managed to limit the Cardinals offense wasn’t that the Braves held the Cardinals to two hits with runners in scoring position, it was that the Cardinals only had ten at bats the entire series with runners in scoring position. The Braves pitchers and defense managed to keep the lineup of on-base machines that play for St Louis from threatening consistently. As a result the Braves only allowed three runs over the three game series.
The Braves offense was very good led by Jason Heyward in the leadoff spot who hit two home runs in the series. The Braves changed their lineup for this series by moving Simmons from the leadoff spot to the 8th spot and moving every other hitter up one spot. The results were very positive and I hope Fredi Gonzalez sticks with this lineup for the rest of the season. Given the available resources the lineup used against the Cardinals is the most optimal one the Braves can put out on a daily basis. This would be true regardless of the results of this series, but hopefully seeing immediate results from the change encourages Fredi to stick with it. Chris Johnson took over the batting title lead in the National League with seven hits in the series. Evan Gattis showed why he should never be a full time left fielder but continues to contribute with the bat.
The Braves worst hitter in the series was Freddie Freeman who struck out six times with only one hit in the series. Freeman has been the Braves most consistent hitter this season so he can be expected to bounce back soon. The Braves continue to be the best home team in baseball and have won a series against every team currently in the National League playoff picture.