Bradley’s Buzz: We’ve never seen a Braves season quite like this

Braves left fielder Eddie Rosario waves to the left field fans as they give him a standing ovation after he hit a go-ahead two-run home run during the Saturday evening MLB game between the San Francisco Giants and the Atlanta Braves on Aug.19, 2023 at Truist Park in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by David J. Griffin/Icon Sportswire) (Icon Sportswire via AP Images)

Credit: AP

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Braves left fielder Eddie Rosario waves to the left field fans as they give him a standing ovation after he hit a go-ahead two-run home run during the Saturday evening MLB game between the San Francisco Giants and the Atlanta Braves on Aug.19, 2023 at Truist Park in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by David J. Griffin/Icon Sportswire) (Icon Sportswire via AP Images)

Credit: AP

The Braves lost Sunday. The Braves don’t lose often. When they do, it comes as a shock – even though this is baseball, where the best teams lose one-third of their games.

Sunday’s loss was their first since the previous Sunday. Both Sunday losses came by one run. After a post-All-Star dip – they were 12-13 – they’d gone on another tear. They took three of four against the Mets up there. They swept the Yankees here. They took the first two against the Giants. Of those eight victories, none was by one run.

Of those eight victories, five were shutouts. Three came in succession. We think of these Braves as a great offensive team – they lead the majors in runs, homers, batting average, on-base percentage and slugging – but they’re not bad at pitching.

They lead the National League in ERA. Their relievers’ ERA is the NL’s best. Their starters’ is second-best, and that’s with 15 different pitchers making a start. The 2022 Braves needed 12 starters to negotiate a full season; the 2021 and 2019 teams each needed 11; the 2018 club deployed 13.

Yonny Chirinos has made five starts as a Brave; his ERA over those five is 9.27. The Braves have won four of his five starts. They’ve scored 42 runs when Chirinos pitches – an average of 8.4 per game. Their seasonal average is 5.8 runs. These hitters tend to rise to the moment.

Let’s face it, though: This team – hitters and pitchers – hasn’t known many sour moments. (Losing a series in Oakland was one, but that was in May.) They’ve turned Truist Park into a fortress. They’ve won 28 of their past 35 home games. That’s a winning percentage of .800. That’s insane.

The Braves are 33-41 when trailing in a game. That’s a winning percentage of .446, second-best in MLB. (Baltimore is 37-44, or .457.) Think of it this way: The NL’s two best teams entering the season were believed to be the Mets and the Padres; their winning percentage in all games is .464 and .472, respectively.

The Braves have won 13 games after trailing in the eighth inning or later. That’s the most in baseball. Their winning percentage when trailing in the eighth-or-after is .245. No other team is above .200.

The Braves last lost by more than two runs on July 31. They have become riveting viewing because they start fast – we’ll spare you their first-inning numbers today to allow your eyes to un-glaze – and keep swinging. They hit the ball a long way. They have guys who run really fast. (Apologies for this final stat: They have 101 stolen bases, the most by the Braves since 2012.)

And that, I swear, marks today’s final number. As much as baseball is about stats, these Braves defy quantification. The scoreboard tells us how good they are, but you could switch off the lights and their excellence would shine through. We’ve seen great players and great teams before. We’ve never seen a Braves team like this.

No matter what happens in the fall, the memories of this summer should stick with us – of Ronald Acuña Jr. wreaking first-inning havoc, of Matt Olson hitting balls into the next county, of Spencer Strider throwing unhittable pitches, of Michael Harris going first-to-third. This is a season that isn’t happening anywhere else. It’s a season that, on the strength of aggregate talent, has never happened here.

The only caveat is sports’ greatest caveat. We remember most how a team finishes. The 2021 Braves were nothing special until October, whereupon they achieved immortality. The 2022 Braves were tremendous – until they weren’t.

The 2023 Braves are so good that, by all that’s fair, they should win the World Series. Should, I say, and I’ll leave it there.

The above is part of a regular exercise available to all who register on AJC.com for our free Sports Daily newsletter. The full Buzz, which includes extras like a weekly poll and pithy quotes, arrives via email around 1:30 p.m. on Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

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