2013 NLDS Preview: Atlanta Braves vs. Los Angeles Dodgers

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Sep 13, 2013; Atlanta, GA, USA; Atlanta Braves catcher Brian McCann (16) hits a home run against the San Diego Padres during the fourth inning at Turner Field. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports


The Braves and the Dodgers both had extremely good offensive teams last year and both could probably be described as pretty streaky. The Braves were hot or cold depending on what Jason Heyward an Justin Upton were doing and with the Dodgers it just depended on who was healthy at the time.

Fortunately for the Braves, the Dodgers are coming into the postseason with a pretty banged up team. Let’s take a look at the probable starting players for both of teams:

JuanUribe 5.1 2.78 .331 .438 7.0 19.0
Hanley Ramirez 5.1 .345 .402 .638 8.0 15.5
Freddie Freeman 4.8 .319 .396 .501 10.5 19.2
Andrelton Simmons 4.7 .248 .296 .396 6.1 8.4
YasielPuig 4.0 .319 .391 .534 8.3 22.5
Jason Heyward 3.4 .254 .349 .427 10.9 16.6
Justin Upton 3.2 .263 .354 .464 11.7 25.0
Carl Crawford 2.9 .283 .329 .407 6.0 14.1
Adrian Gonzalez 2.8 .293 .342 .461 7.3 15.3
Chris Johnson 2.8 .321 .358 .457 5.3 21.2
Brian McCann 2.7 .256 .336 .461 9.7 16.4
A.J.Ellis 2.2 .238 .318 .364 10.0 17.4
MarkEllis 1.8 .270 .323 .351 5.4 15.4
Evan Gattis .9 .243 .291 .480 5.5 21.2
Elliot Johnson -.01 .209 .255 .283 5.8 24.4
Skip Schumaker -1.0 .263 .332 .332 7.9 15.2

This is definitely whole lot of information to take in, so if you don’t get as excited about stats as me, feel free to ignore the table (filled with stats I picked out) and just focus on what I’m about to say next.

The eight probable Dodger players had a WAR total of 22.9 compared to the eight Braves players with a total of 22.4. Just based on WAR it seems that the two are pretty evenly matched. However, there are obviously many more things than season WAR totals to consider, especially including the health of the Dodgers.

Matt Kemp is already out for the entire season and Andre Ethier looks doubtful… while some of the players above don’t look too good either.

Hanley Ramirez is one of those “always hurt” type guys and is battling a nerve condition in his lower back, while Yasiel Puig has a bruised left shin. These are two of the Dodgers most important offensive players at the moment, and if either of them can’t play (or if their injuries hinder their production), it will be a pretty substantial blow.

For the Braves, the health looks much better for the starters, but the one question is at second base. According to Mark Bowman, the Braves might be leaving Dan Uggla off of the NLDS roster, which means Elliot Johnson would become the starter. Johnson has some pretty terrible numbers for the season (see that negative  WAR) but he has done well of late, and is quite a bit better than Uggla defensively–which is kind of important. Seems like Fredi is keen on avoiding a Brooks Conrad situation.

There is definitely room for argument, but I’ve got to give the Braves the nod in this area because of three things:

  1. Health
  2. Jason Heyward back in the lead off spot
  3. Andrelton Simmons’ arm

Advantage: Braves

In the next section, Brad will go over the bullpens of each team.