With the MLB playoff bracket set and the Wild Card Series beginning tomorrow, baseball analysts across the country are asked to provide their World Series predictions. Given the Braves won last season, a lot of people are straying away from picking them to do it again. Perhaps there’s a bit of voter fatigue, but we must also take into account that there has not been a repeat World Series champion since the Yankees went for a three-peat in 2000. That’s how difficult what the Braves are attempting to do this October is to accomplish. However, a couple of analysts are fond of the Braves’ chances to repeat.
David Sampson and Will Middlebrooks are two MLB analysts for CBS Sports, and both believe the Braves will return to the Fall Classic this year.
“Let’s start with the fact that the division was over just a couple of months ago,” Sampson said. “The Braves got hot and they stayed hot and they won this division. It’s not that the Mets gave it to them at all. The Mets had a great year just not great enough.”
“It’s going to be one heck of an exciting October for the Atlanta Braves,” Sampson continued. “I didn’t get a lot of predictions right because this has been a crazy season, but I had the Braves beating the Blue Jays in the World Series before the season started, so I figure I might as well stick with that.”
Sampson’s right — the Mets didn’t collapse. The Braves have been the best team in baseball since June 1st, going 77-33 over that stretch. That’s a 114-win pace, and they still ended up tied atop the standings with the Mets. Will Middlebrooks agreed.
“Like David said, the Mets didn’t collapse, they didn’t give this away; the Braves earned it,” said Middlebrooks. “They won 101 games. The front office did a great job. They added Kenley Jansen. They added Raisel Iglesias. You saw him pitch in the seventh inning today, turn it over to A.J. Minter, and then Jansen. You’re going to see that a lot.”
When Middlebrooks was asked his World Series prediction, he responded, “I’m going to go Braves/Astros. I think the Astros are by far the best team in the American League. I know how good the Dodgers are. For as good as they are, I don’t know if I’ve ever seen a 110-win team, even 100-win team, with this many question marks going into the postseason as the Dodgers. The Braves, they’re solid, they slug, they hit the ball out of the ballpark, and that’s how you win big games in the postseason.”
I couldn’t agree more with what Middlebrooks said about the Dodgers. Everyone wants to fawn about their win total and crown them the best team in baseball, but they have question marks. Their lineup as a whole is not as powerful as the Braves, nor as deep. They’re starting pitching has been unbelievable this season, but losing Walker Buehler isn’t something that can be glossed over. He’s their top guy, especially in the postseason. The Dodgers bullpen is also dealing with injuries and isn’t nearly as lockdown as it has been in the past.
Los Angeles is a fantastic team, and they very well could win it all this season. But the Braves got over that mental hurdle last year, so don’t be surprised if they do it again and repeat as World Series champions.
Photo: Rich von Biberstein/Icon Sportswire