Bradley’s Buzz: Best-ever Braves? Possibly. World Series champs? Maybe

The Braves are on pace to win 109 games, which no team in franchise history has done. FanGraphs assigns them a 100% chance of making the playoffs. It gives them a 24.3% chance of winning the World Series. No other club is given half that. This hasn’t just been baseball’s best team. It has been baseball’s best team by some distance.

The Braves will win the National League East for a sixth year running. The surprising Marlins would be leading the Central or the West; they trail the Braves by 8½ games. The Braves are 9-1 against Miami.

There’s reason to ask if this is the best band of Braves ever, which is fun to ponder — and not at all fanciful. This team hasn’t lost a series since May. That was also the last time it lost consecutive games. The Braves are 28-6 since dropping two in Oakland, which remains the “huh?” moment of this season.

The four-day all-star break gives us pause to reflect on what this team has done — hit 169 home runs; hit a homer in 26 consecutive games; generate eight All-Stars; go 30-14 on the road — but eventually human nature takes hold. Our pleasant reverie fades. Reality rears its head, reality being October.

Of the 14 MLB clubs that have won 106-plus games in the playoff era, six won the World Series. Five of the 14 failed to reach the Series. Three failed to win a playoff series.

Three NL teams entered last season’s playoffs with 100-plus wins. Those teams — Dodgers, Braves and Mets — went 3-8 in postseason games. The National League champ was 87-win Philadelphia.

We usually save such caveats until September, but these Braves will resume play having stripped the regular season of drama. They could go 30-43 from here on and make the playoffs, though then we’d be griping they peaked too soon. The flip side — for them to go 50-23 and us to grouse they should have saved something for October.

The Braves won the 2021 World Series after finishing with the worst record among playoff qualifiers. One year later, they chased down the 101-win Mets to seize a Round 1 bye and were gone from the playoffs in four games. The Giants won the 2010, 2012 and 2014 World Series without winning more than 94 games. The Dodgers had four 100-win seasons from 2017 through 2022; they won it all only in the shortened COVID-19 year.

We can’t handicap October. We shouldn’t even try. It’d be nice if we could watch the Braves over these next 2½ months without waiting for the other shoe to drop in the month that matters. It would be nice, but not realistic. The Braves made the playoffs 22 times over the past 30 completed seasons. At winning the World Series, those teams were 2-for-22. We know how this works.

The good news: If the playoffs began today, you’d be insane to pick anybody else. (Especially after Max Fried’s 35-pitch rehab start.) The Braves lead the majors — by a lot — in OPS. They lead the majors in ERA. They have an all-star at every infield position, catcher included. They have the world’s best outfielder. They’ve won 60 games with Fried working 26 innings.

As we speak — it’s 10 a.m. on July 10 — these Braves have done everything possible to stamp themselves as a great team. Maybe the greatest of all Braves teams. Maybe.

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