Braves' World Series odds take a hit after falling to fourth in NL East
The Atlanta Braves – one of the preseason favorites to win the World Series – have been mediocre for much of 2021. After getting clubbed 12-2 by the Philadelphia Phillies on Friday night, the Braves find themselves in fourth place in the NL East – 2 1/2 games out of first – at 15-17.
As a result, Atlanta has risen from +1000 to win the World Series to +1500 over a three-week span. Let’s examine what’s behind the Braves’ subpar play, and if they can turn it around in time.
World Series 2021
Tue, November 2 2021, 11:00 PM
Los Angeles Dodgers
New York Yankees
San Diego Padres
New York Mets
Chicago White Sox
Boston Red Sox
Pitching injuries, lack of support for Acuna troubling
Ronald Acuna Jr. is making a case for NL MVP honors – a year after teammate Freddie Freeman won his first career MVP Award – as he’s batting .321 with an NL-best 10 homers and 22 RBI. Acuna and Freeman would be the first pair of teammates to trade off MVP wins since 2011-2012, when Justin Verlander won the AL MVP a year before Miguel Cabrera won his first of two straight.
However, Acuna seems to be the only Brave batter exceeding expectations in 2021. Marcell Ozuna is batting a mere .216 with four homers, and Freeman is hitting just .195 with seven homers.
Pitching has also been a huge problem for Atlanta. Mike Soroka suffered a recovery setback that will knock him out until at least late June, and Max Fried has alternated trips to the IL with surprisingly poor performances, yielding an 8.23 ERA.
This situation combined with a lousy bullpen has led to the Braves becoming the sixth-worst run prevention team in the majors (5.1 runs allowed per game).
No world-beaters in NL East
The good news for Atlanta is that no one is running away with the NL East. Only the Miami Marlins have a positive run differential, and the Braves’ 2 1/2-game gap to the Phillies is more than manageable.
Despite being just 14th in runs per game in 2021, the Braves boast the best offense in the division. One would have to assume that Ozuna, Freeman and the others will begin to hit like their regular selves sooner rather than later.
Though it may be appealing to get in now on the Braves if you passed on them in preseason wagering, they still may need some time to iron out their issues. The wait-and-see approach might be best here.
In the meantime, the Milwaukee Brewers appear to be putting together an interesting longshot case at +2200, and could be worth a wager right now.