Reporting Rob Hamilton
Though it’s only the divisional round, we’re set to see a true battle of the titans in the Braves-Dodgers National League Divisional Series. Game 1 is Thursday.
My first prediction is this ends up being the most exciting, dramatic, best, etc. divisional round series. We’re talking about a team that won 96 games against a team that went 62-28 (.689, a 162-game pace of 112-50) after waking up from an early-season slumber. The Braves have home-field advantage, which is paramount considering they went 56-25 at home and 40-41 on the road this season. The Dodgers were impressive on the road this season, though, going 45-36.
Both teams relatively limped to the finish line, with the Braves going 13-14 in September while the Dodgers went 12-15.
Catcher: A.J. Ellis vs. Brian McCann
McCann is far superior with the lumber (115 OPS+ to 93) and provides good power to the Braves’ lineup. Ellis, though, is a great backstop who threw out 44 percent of would-be basestealers this season, compared to 24 percent by McCann. That brings things closer, but McCann is still the pick here.
First base: Adrian Gonzalez vs. Freddie Freeman
Gonzalez is a very good player, obviously. He hit .293/.342/.461 with 22 homers, 100 RBI and quality glove work at first base this season for the Dodgers. Freeman, though, is rounding into an MVP-caliber player. He boasted a 144 OPS+ and 5.4 WAR this season, both a decent upgrade over Gonzalez’s marks (126 and 3.9).
Second base: Mark Ellis vs. Elliot Johnson
Ellis isn’t flashy by any stretch, but his .270/.323/.351 line with steady defense are enough to not hurt the team. Johnson is pretty similar once joining the Braves. And just be keeping Dan Uggla out of the lineup he’s helpful. It’s an unexciting push.
For the rest of the predictions go here: http://www.cbssports.com/mlb/eye-on-baseball/23949200/dodgersbraves-nlds-preview-who-has-the-edge