ESPN provides why the Braves are the team to beat

MLB: AUG 23 Mets at Braves

The Braves were the best team in baseball from start to finish during the regular season, clinching home-field advantage throughout the postseason thanks to 104 wins. But all that history Atlanta made during the regular season will be for not if they don’t show up in October for the second consecutive season.

Injury concerns aside, the Braves remain the favorites to win the World Series because of their historic offense. This is a gauntlet opposing pitchers will have to go through in October, with power lurking at every turn, and ESPN recognized that when discussing the outlook for all 12 playoff teams as the postseason is set to begin.

Why they are the team to beat: The offense is just too good to keep down. And while we’ve seen offensive powerhouses falter before in the crucible of October, the Braves’ attack looks airtight. Their numbers hold up no matter how you split them up. They mash at home and on the road, against lefties and righties, against all kinds of pitch profiles. They have power at every spot in the lineup. Earlier in the season, it looked like the Braves might have become too reliant on homers for scoring, a trait that doesn’t always hold up well in the playoffs. But Atlanta’s offense has gradually become more varied as the season has progressed and right now appears to be without weakness. Sure, the Braves have question marks around their pitching staff, but if their offense is putting up five or more runs a game, that might not matter. — Doolittle

When people talk about the Braves, everyone is going to mention the power numbers. They are unheard of, tying the 2019 Twins for the most homers ever in a single season. The only difference is this isn’t the juiced ball era. The 2023 Braves are the real kings of the long ball. They also became the first team ever to have a slugging percentage over .500.

However, what’s not recognized enough amid all these incredible power numbers is the Braves did all of this while lowering their strikeout rate considerably. In 2022, the Braves had the third-worst strikeout rate in the league, striking out in 24.6% of their at-bats. This season, they rank fifth, striking out 20.6% of the time. That’s an unbelievable improvement over a year as an entire team, especially for a club that mashed 307 home runs.

This is a Braves offense that can attack opposing pitchers in so many different ways, and their entire lineup is able to change the game with one swing. It is going to be the ultimate challenge to shut this offense down for one game, let alone several in a five or seven-game series.

Even for some of the best offenses in MLB history, October has proven to be the Achilles heel, but the relentless depth of the Atlanta Braves lineup feels like it can be enough to carry this team to another World Series.

Photo: John Adams/Icon Sportswire

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