Ah, the fact that I can even sit here and write about the Braves and the World Series brings a tear of joy to my eye. For the first time since I could really comprehend baseball, my favorite team is just four wins away from bringing home the Commissioner’s Trophy. However, a powerhouse stands in their way in the form of the Houston Astros. The Astros might not have racked up as many wins as the Dodgers this season, but they are just as experienced. This is the third World Series they’ve made in the last five years, and they’ve been to five straight League Championship Series. This will not be an easy task, but to be the best, you have to beat the best, and I expect the Braves to be up for the challenge. So, without further ado, let’s take a look at a few X-factors that could turn this World Series into Atlanta’s favor.
Mr. Hot and Cold himself, Dansby Swanson is the kind of player that can get scorching hot at any moment, and he’s also known to show up when the lights are the brightest. Over his postseason career, he’s hit a more than respectable .277 with three homers — good for a .760 OPS. However, those numbers have taken a dip so far this year, as Swanson has hit just .237 and has yet to record an extra-base hit, leading to a .500 OPS. The Braves don’t need him to hit .400 with several home runs to win this series, but they are nearly impossible to beat when he is playing that way. If Swanson can flip the switch in his first World Series appearance, he’s capable of going on a Rosario-type NLCS run, which would carry the Braves to their first championship since 1995.
Duvall is never one to hit for average, but few players can change the game with one swing of the bat like he can. He led the National League in RBIs to go along with his team-leading 38 homers. So far this postseason, he has just one home run in ten games. But with Duvall, they usually come in bunches. He hit 16 homers with the Braves in only 55 games after they traded for him, and they usually came with runners on base. You have to like the Braves’ chances if Duvall can come through with a couple of those moments in the World Series.
Pederson may be an obvious candidate here, but how can I leave off Joctober. The long-time Los Angeles Dodger has continued his October magic with the Braves, carrying Atlanta to the NLCS and coming up with multiple clutch hits against his former team. Pederson also has a knack for coming up with home runs in the World Series. Against the Astros in 2017, he smacked three of his five World Series home runs. It’s hard imagining Pederson not coming through with a long ball at some point in this series.
After his NLCS performance, it’s understandable for fans to have completely lost faith in Luke Jackson. Simply put, he was downright abysmal against the Dodgers, looking more like the guy from 2020 than the man who dominated opponents this season. However, the Braves are already short-handed when it comes to relievers. Tyler Matzek, Will Smith, and A.J. Minter are the only guys that can be trusted right now out of the ‘pen, and they are all left-handed. That’s not going to be enough against an Astros lineup that can hit as well as anyone. The Braves need some of their relievers to step up, and Jackson is the ideal candidate, given how well he pitched throughout the regular season, recording a minuscule 1.98 ERA.
Thanks for reading about the Braves World Series X-factors. If you liked this article, check out Ryan Cothran’s World Series roster predictions.
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