Random notes: The Braves and October (not a horror story)

Atlanta Braves players take a dip in the outfield waterfall in celebration of clinching the National League East Friday night.

Credit: ccompton@ajc.com

Credit: ccompton@ajc.com

The Braves have qualified for postseason play 19 times over 28 seasons, not counting the strike year of 1994. Maybe you’re among those who see that number and go, “Yeah? And how many times did they win the World Series?”

The answer, as you know full well, is one. And maybe then you go off on one of those ESPN-stoked rants about how nothing matters if you don’t win a ring. But here, as the Braves ready for yet another October, we ask: Would you trade the past 29 years (counting this one and 1994) of Braves baseball – 29 years yielding 17 first-place finishes, 24 winning seasons but just the one ring – for the two World Series won by the Marlins, who’ve never finished first and made the playoffs only those two times?

Since 1990, only one MLB club has reached the postseason more often than the Braves, and you know who: The Yankees have made it 21 times. The Cardinals have done it 14 times, the Dodgers and Red Sox 13 apiece. (The Dodgers have no Series win to show for their past 12 trips, FYI.) Over the same span, the Giants have won the World Series almost as often (three times) as they’ve made the playoffs without winning it all (five). Which goes to show …

Well, I’m not sure. With the postseason, nobody knows anything. From the erudite baseball writer Joe Sheehan: “We’re pretty good at evaluating baseball players these days. We’re probably better at it than we’ve ever been before … What we still can’t do, however, is predict what a player will do over three games, five games, seven games, 20 games.”

Could the Braves win the 2019 World Series? Absolutely. Will they? Start flipping ye olde coin. According to FanGraphs, the best team in baseball (Houston) has a 33.1 percent chance to win the World Series, which means the Astros have a 67.9 percent chance to lose. As Sam Miller, another erudite baseball writer, is wont to say: If your choice is between the favorite and the rest of the field, your odds are better with the field.

Baseball people are unanimous in this opinion: The test of a team is the six-month season. The seventh month is largely about luck. All a club can do is keep putting itself in position to get lucky. Nineteen times over 28 full seasons, the Braves have done that. Since 1990, the longest they’ve gone between postseason berths is four years, and that was with a heavy-duty rebuild included. And we’ll leave you with one fun factoid:

Since 1990, the Braves have made the playoffs 19 times. Since 1990, the rest of the National League East – Nationals, Mets, Phillies, Marlins – has made it 18 times.

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