Is having primarily divisional games an advantage for the Braves?

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This year, the Braves 60-game schedule will feature 40 games in the division (10 against each team) and 20 games against the AL East. That means the NL East winner will likely be determined by whoever makes the most of those divisional matchups. Over the past two seasons — off the top of my head — the Braves have been pretty dominant in a division that features mostly above-average teams, including last year’s World Series Champions, the Washington Nationals (I’m never going to enjoy saying that). However, I decided to dive into just how good they’ve fared against their NL East foes, and whether playing them might be advantageous in their trek towards a third straight divisional title.

2018

In 2018, the Braves returned to prominence, clinching the division with plenty of time to spare and finishing eight games better than the second-place Nationals. The Braves won 90 games that year, and they made the most of their games within the division.

The only team that put up much of a fight was the Nationals, but the Braves still finished with a 10-9 record against them. They won at least 12 of their 19 games against the rest of the division, including 14 against the sorry Fish.

2019

In 2019, the Braves won 97 games, and their success against the NL East was almost identical, especially against the Marlins. However, the rest of the division was much improved last year, with four teams finishing .500 or better, including the Nationals, who won 93 games and finished in second place.

The Braves 11-8 record against Washington stood out as the deciding factor in the division. Atlanta also had an 11-8 record versus New York, who finished in third place and ten games over .500 with an 86-76 record. The only team that has gotten the better of the Braves over the last two seasons is the Phillies. Philadelphia was able to go 10-9 against Atlanta last year, but they still finished fourth in the division. And then, of course, there is the aptly named Fish, who the Braves took advantage of once again, winning a remarkable 15 of their 19 contests. That’s going to be critical this year with so many competitive teams in both the NL and AL East.

Overall, I think the Braves got the short end of the stick with their schedule. The NL East will be insanely competitive, especially in a 60-game season, with four teams battling until the end. The AL East is also notoriously the best division in baseball. The Braves receive a little bit of a break because the Red Sox are in a rebuilding phase. However, the Rays have a roster that could win it all, and the Blue Jays are an up and coming squad people aren’t talking about enough in a shortened season. Because of this, it’s going to be difficult for the Braves to snag one of the Wild Card spots, so its imperative they continue their dominance within the division if they want to make the playoffs for the third straight year. 

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