It’s been a thrilling season through 86 games for the Atlanta Braves, who own the best record in the NL East, and their fans. However, this success wasn’t predicted by many, if any at all. Atlanta has failed to reach .500 since 2013, but comfortably sit 12 games above .500 as the All-Star break approaches. Which raises the question: come postseason time, will the young and inexperience of the Braves haunt them?
Age/Experience a Call for Concern?
According to ESPN’s MLB Roster Analysis, the Braves roster is the fifth youngest ballclub in the league. There’s nothing more exciting than a bunch of young and energized players winning ball games. But, this is the regular season.
Only three of Atlanta’s eight positional starters have playoff experience, combining for 17 games and 68 total plate appearances. However, little playoff experience is expected with a young club. Fielding and hitting isn’t an area of concern for this ballclub. With bats like Freddie Freeman, Ender Inciarte, Nick Markakis, Ozzie Albies, and Ronald Acuna Jr. available in the lineup, it’s tough for opponents to shutdown this group of players in a series.
Their contributions at the plate are a large component for the 2018 season success. Ranging from the 34-year-old Markakis to the roaring 20 and 21-year-old phenomes Albies and Acuna Jr., Atlanta’s bats’ rank amongst the best in baseball. Atlanta leads the NL in extra-base hits (289), doubles (178) and total bases (1280), while second in runs (425), hits (782), RBI’s (406), and batting average (.260). As long as the bats continue to stay hot, experience and age will not factor into the Braves playoff runs chances.
Arms may be a concern
More concerning is the virtually zero experience the Atlanta Braves arms have during the postseason. Brandon McCarthy (currently on the DL), Julio Teheran, and Anibal Sanchez are the only starters in the rotation with postseason experience. Unfortunately, in the 41.1 innings combined thrown, Sanchez recorded 38.2 of those innings on his own. As for the remaining 3.2 innings thrown, Teheran and McCarthy have allowed a combined eight runs, 10 hits, two home runs, and an ERA well above 20. None of the starters in the rotation are considered aces. Which in the postseason, it’s a luxury to rely on your ace for one win during a pivotal series.
The youthfulness of Atlanta could haunt them in a playoff series with emotions running high and the lack of experience in decisive games, especially in the bullpen. Sam Freeman and Peter Moylan accumulate 17 years of MLB service; however, they’ve combined for one total inning pitched in two postseasons appearances. Freeman failed to record an out, walking the only two batters he’s faced. While Moylan allowed one hit in his only inning pitched. None of the seven remaining arms in the bullpen have postseason experience. These next 76 games will be crucial for the coaches to analyze which reliever will best adapt in a playoff atmosphere.