Bradley’s Buzz: Braves-Dodgers. Need we say more? (Though we will)

Los Angeles Dodgers' Freddie Freeman, right, smiles at Atlanta Braves starting pitcher Max Fried after being thrown out at first during the fourth inning of a baseball game Tuesday, April 19, 2022, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

Credit: AP

Credit: AP

Los Angeles Dodgers' Freddie Freeman, right, smiles at Atlanta Braves starting pitcher Max Fried after being thrown out at first during the fourth inning of a baseball game Tuesday, April 19, 2022, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

Preliminaries are over. Braves-Dodgers is at hand. The weekend’s winner – barring a rainout, there must be a winner in a three-game series, and the last Chavez Ravine rainout was in 2000 – will rule the sport for the next year if not the remainder of the millennium. And yes, we’re getting carried away.

Four words to curb our enthusiasm: Texas Rangers, reigning champs.

Enough reality. Back to hysteria, though our hysterics are buttressed by fun facts. The Dodgers have made the playoffs 11 years running. The Braves have won the NL East over six consecutive seasons. Each is all but guaranteed a place in the expanded postseason. FanGraphs gives the Braves a 99.1 percent chance of qualification; the Dodgers are assigned a mere 95.9 percent chance.

The Braves won the 2021 World Series, having derailed the Dodgers in the NLCS. The Dodgers won the 2020 World Series, having overridden a 3-1 Braves lead in the NLCS. Counting the first month-plus of this season, the Braves are 225-128 since 2021, which would lead MLB if not for the Dodgers, who are 231-126.

These teams don’t collide often – after Sunday, they’ll next meet on Sept. 13 – but they’re never far from one another’s thoughts. Each regards the other as both measuring stick and potential postseason roadblock, though the past two Octobers passed without either winning a playoff round. Darned Phillies.

The 2023 Braves had baseball’s best record. The 2024 Braves do, too, though only Marcell Ozuna and Reynaldo Lopez have performed at peak capacity. After an offseason of unprecedented splurging, the Dodgers – now with Shohei Ohtani, Tyler Glasnow and Yoshinobu Yamamoto – were touted as the Greatest Team Ever Assembled, which they haven’t been. To be fair, it is early.

The Dodgers are 20-13. That’s a winning percentage of .606, which over a full season would mark an L.A. low since 2018. It isn’t that the new names haven’t delivered – Ohtani’s OPS is 1.017; Glasnow’s ERA is 2.72, Yamamoto’s 2.91. It’s just that this sport can humble even the giants. Over a 16-day span, these Dodgers contrived to lose four of five series.

The Braves have lost only two series. The first bore a shortened-by-rain asterisk. The second just happened. The Braves escaped Seattle after three days with one win and eight runs, half of those unearned. The team that hit 307 homers last season has gone 48 innings without one. Travis d’Arnaud hit as many on a Friday against the reigning Rangers as any Brave except Marcell Ozuna has managed all season.

And yet: These Braves are 20-9. The Strider-less rotation has begun to settle. Max Fried has yielded three hits and no runs over 15 innings. Lopez surrendered three earned runs against Mariners, which more than doubled his ERA – all the way to 1.50.

As it stands, the Braves wouldn’t trade their roster for anybody else’s. The Dodgers feel the same. Neither has caught a blazing start, but the Dodgers are on pace to win 98 games. The Braves are on pace to win 112, which only one National League team – the 1906 Cubs – has done.

Up for a bit more fun? Sure you are.

· The Dodgers average 5.36 runs, which rounds up to 5.4. The Braves average 5.41 runs.

· The Braves’ ERA is 3.53. The Dodgers’ is 3.52.

· Mookie Betts leads the majors in OPS. Ozuna is fourth. Ohtani is sixth.

· Betts leads the majors in batting average, hits and OBP. He’s tied with Ohtani for the lead in total bases. He’s tied with Ronald Acuna for the lead in runs. Ozuna leads the majors in RBIs and the NL in homers.

· Call up “Dodgers depth chart” on You’ll find Betts listed at second base, shortstop and right field, though he hasn’t spent an inning in RF this season. He’s amazing.

· FanGraphs gives the Braves a 20.4 percent chance of winning the World Series. Then come the Dodgers at 16.6 percent. No other team is above 9 percent.

If you care to call these baseball’s two best teams, go right ahead. Be advised that an objection might rise from the great state of Pennsylvania, home to a team that started 8-8 but is 13-3 since and holds the second-best winning percentage among MLB clubs. Darned Phillies.

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