The NL Divisional Series will face two teams that have been Milwaukee franchises, when the NL Central champions, the Brewers, meet their Eastern counterparts, the Braves.
The last time the Braves played a postseason game in Milwaukee was Game 7 of the 1958 World Series at County Stadium, just steps from the Brewers’ current home, American Family Field.
Before SDLN kicks off this Friday, let’s take a look at who has the advantage, position by position.
A year ago, this would have been a significant advantage for the Braves, with Travis d’Arnaud posting an OPS of .919 compared to .562 for Omar Narvaez. Although Narváez had a better overall performance than d’Arnaud in 2021, with a .743 OPS against d’Arnaud’s .671, Atlanta’s mask held the advantage in the second half with .720 vs. .592. On defense, Narvaez’s 10 runs saved derived from extra strikes and won by squaring pitches lead all of MLB.
Keston Hiura, Daniel Vogelbach, Rowdy Tellez, Jace Peterson and Eduardo Escobar all started at least 15 games in the start for the Brewers, and the collective .716 OPS at that position ranked 25th in the majors. By contrast, the Braves have relied on only one player at that position: Freddie Freeman. The reigning National League MVP had another excellent season, scoring .300 / .393 / .503 along with 31 home runs, 83 RBIs and 120 scored in 159 games.
Ozzie Albies and Kolten Wong had very similar OPS averages. Albies posted .799, while Wong had .783. But the 24-year-old Albies became the fourth second baseman in both league history to hit at least 30 home runs and drive in at least 100 runs in a single season. And while Wong is a more solid defender, Albies is solid enough with the glove to take the lead at second base here.
After Willy Adames joined the lineup on May 22, Milwaukee finished 74-44, and Adames led the club in batting average (.285), on-base percentage (.366) and slugging (. 521). Braves shortstop Dansby Swanson set career highs in homers, RBIs, runs scored and games played this season, but it’s not enough to overcome the impact Adames has had on Milwaukee.
Mexico’s Luis Urías has established himself as a solid starter for Milwaukee, having hit 23 homers and posted a .789 timeshare OPS at third base, shortstop and middle, and the Brewers could also use Escobar at the corner. hot, but Austin Riley has the upper hand here. Riley shone after the All-Star break, hitting .333 with 19 homers, 65 RBIs and a .976 OPS to help the Braves reach the postseason. The 24-year-old Riley hit the 30 HR and 100 produced marks for the first time in his career while posting an OPS of .898.
Acquired from Cleveland prior to the trade deadline, Eddie Rosario has come to lift Atlanta’s offensive production in left field (.903 OPS) since returning from the disabled list in late August. Christian Yelich, meanwhile, ended a difficult season on a losing streak, hitting just one home run and .620 OPS in his last 27 games.
Although Adam Duvall doesn’t have the same kind of glove as veteran Lorenzo Cain, Duvall has posted 2 outs above average (5 at all positions). With the stake, Duvall doesn’t reach base as often (.281 OBP), which limits her ceiling, but has the power to get her out of the park often. The 33-year-old shotgunner finished second in the majors with 38 homers and led the league with 113 RBIs.
Cuban Jorge Soler has been a great addition to the Braves, but the lack of a designated hitter in the National League means Soler has to play defense every day. We’ll give the lead to Avisaíl García, who is a solid right-field glove and has been a productive hitter for the Brewers all year, setting a career-high 29 home runs and producing 86 runs along with an .820 OPS.
The Braves have an outstanding trio in their rotation consisting of Charlie Morton, Max Fried and Ian Anderson, but the Brewers’ rotation is on another level. Led by Corbin Burnes, Brandon Woodruff and Freddy Peralta, Milwaukee’s rotation had the second-best ERA (3.13) and the third-highest in strikeouts (906) in the majors this season. Burnes has been perhaps the most dominant starter in the majors this year, as he led MLB in EFE (2.43), FIP (1.63) and strikeout rate (35.6%).
The Brewers bullpen suffered a severe setback when reliever Devin Williams broke his hand after his team tied up the division. Williams’ loss is enough to give the Braves the upper hand in this department. Milwaukee still has a strong reliever group consisting of Josh Hader, Jake Cousins, Brad Boxberger, Brent Suter and Aaron Ashby, but Atlanta has its thing in Will Smith, Tyler Matzek, Luke Jackson, AJ Minter, Richard Rodriguez and Jesse Chavez.
Forecast: After splitting their regular season matchups 5-5, it leads us to think that this series will be pretty close. Milwaukee’s starting pitching could end up being the difference.