At the end of a tumultuous April, the Washington Nationals stood at 13-14, second place in the National League East. Inconsistent play had cost them Curly W’s and standings within their own very tough division. Meanwhile, for much of April, the Atlanta Braves seemed incapable of doing much wrong. While any one game is a bit small of a sample size to look at, and even a month in the grand scheme of the season only means so much, let’s take a look at just what happened a little more closely anyway.
Here is a capsule for each team with records reflecting through April 30. It lists the record of the team, the teams played and the combined record of the teams played. It’s not terribly scientific, and given there are road/home differences, number of games played against any particular opponent, etc- I wouldn’t read too much into it. It’s meant only to give a snapshot idea of how the teams are doing, and against who they are playing.
I then subtracted the teams W-L total from the combined opponents W-L total to get an idea of how the teams are doing when they aren’t playing the subject in question (Note That means Opponents L-Teams Ws, and Team Ls – Opponents Ws). I could have subbed out the team being examined with a league average team…but I don’t really care that much. Again, it’s a snapshot-so enjoy it for what it’s worth.
Atlanta Braves: 17-9
Opponents: Phillies Cubs Marlins Nationals (x2) Royals Pirates Rockies Tigers
Combine record of teams played: 103-107. (-4)
Opponents Record w/o Braves: 94-90 (+4)
Thoughts: The high and might Braves were hot, and they did win a lot of baseball games-but they played a lot of bad teams. Of the Four teams with winning records (PIT, KC, DET and COL), the Braves went 4-8 with two wins coming against the Rockies who are, in all likelihood, not as good as their 16-10 record might otherwise indicate. Did the Braves earn all those wins? Yes. Were they a better team than the Nationals in April? Absolutely. 5-0 against the locals is pretty definitive. But when your team is having a “hot” April and 8 of your wins come against the Marlins and the Cubs, maybe your team was just as much benefiting from an easy schedule as anything. We might learn a lot about the Braves in the next week as they play the Mets, Reds, Giants and Dodgers in succession-and it might not be what everyone thought it was going to be.
In short, the Braves are good but I’m not buying they are as good as advertised. Not yet.
Opponents: Marlins (x2) Reds (x2) White Sox Braves (x2) Mets Cardinals
Combined record of teams played: 85-82 (+3)
Opponents Record w/o Nationals: 71-69 (+2)
Thoughts Sure the Nats got most of their wins against the Marlins and White Sox (who have a total of 18 wins between them), but they’ve played much stiffer competition overall than the Atlanta Braves have. If the Nats had swapped out the Reds or Cards for say the Cubs, the two records might be more on par with each other. The other thing to keep in mind is that it’s pretty universally held that Washington has not played their best baseball, while Atlanta has been painted as the hot team that could do no wrong. The Nats played 10 games against the Reds and Cardinals, a team Atlanta has yet to play. When they talk about things evening out this is part of what they are talking about-seeing all the different teams.
As the Nats get some of these weaker teams and Atlanta sees some of the tougher ones things will even out. If the Nats play like they can (and have started to in May) then 2 game lead isn’t nearly enough for Atlanta.
Philadelphia Phillies: 12-15
Opponents Played: Braves Royals Mets (x 2) Marlins Reds Cardinals Pirates and 1 game against the Indians
Combined record of teams played: 105-102 (+3)
Opponents Record w/o Phillies: 90-90 (Even)
Analysis: The Phillies have played a schedule on par with the Nationals and fared only slightly worse. They got out to a very slow start, losing 5 of 7 but bounced back against the Marlins and Mets. They managed a split with the Cardinals at home, but dropped four in a row to the Reds on the road. It’s hard to figure these Phillies, and I haven’t seen any of them yet this year. The seem to be, more or less, playing at the same levels as the Nats as in April. Hopefully when they see each other in May, the Nats will be playing a bit better (as expected) and the Phillies won’t be.
New York Mets: 10-15
Opponents: Padres Marlins (x2) Phillies (x2) Twins Rockies Nationals Dodgers
Combined Record of Opponents: 83-100 (-17)
Opponents Record w/o Mets: 68-90 (-22)
Thoughts: The Mets are not a very good team, no matter how many times the Nationals let Dillion Gee of the hook. Matt Harvey was a joy to watch, and I genuinely like David Wright too-but this team is pretty bad all around. 9 of their 10 wins come against sub-.500 teams, beating the 13-13 LA Dodgers for the 10th victory. Although the series didn’t go well in New York, I expect this nonsense to stop (and relatively quickly) the next few times the Nats play the Mets this year. There is only one reason they aren’t the worst team in the division…
Miami Marlins 8-19
Opponents: Nationals (x2) Mets (x2) Braves Phillies Reds Twins Cubs
Combined Records of Opponents: 88-94 (-6)
Opponents Record w/o Marlins: 69-86 (-17)
Thoughts: The Marlins are a hot mess and not getting better anytime soon. They scattered 6 wins throughout most of the month, and only won their first series in the last two days of April. Giancarlo Stanton only just about 8 1/2 minutes ago finally hit a home run. There is almost nothing worth talking about with this team other than they stink and, for the most part, the rest of the NL East (and Central and West) will beat up on them the rest of the year.