Game: 2013 World Series
Location: Boston, Massachusetts; Atlanta, Georgia
Date: Wednesday, October 23, 2013 – Thursday, October 31, 2013
Teams: Boston Red Sox, Atlanta Braves
With nearly identical records, the Boston Red Sox and Atlanta braves are in very different situations as they sit atop their divisions a week into August. The Braves have not had a challenge for months now as their lead over the second place Washington Nationals climbs into the double digits. Meanwhile, Boston continues to battle it out with Tampa Bay.
Regardless of how the last two months of the season play out, both teams are contenders. The Red Sox are doing it with their bats as they continue to lead the league in runs scored (568 as of August 6) and hang around the top of almost every other major offensive category. Atlanta is doing it with pitching, as 25-year-old Mike Minor and 38-year-old Tim Hudson help lead one of the most well rounded pitching staffs in the league.
Both teams have their own reasons for wanting to get back to the playoffs. The Red Sox are looking to redeem themselves after a disappointing 2011 finish and an even more dismal 2012 season, while the Braves would like to prove that they are better than a one-and-done Wild Card team.
Does either team have what it takes to make it to the World Series and, if so, which team has the better shot of winning it all?
How Boston gets there
For a team with surprisingly mediocre pitching, the acquisition of Jake Peavy cannot be understated. A trio now of Jon Lester, John Lackey, and Peavy is one that can help any team destroy a divisional series and fight their way to the top.
And certainly any potential playoff opponent shakes a little when they realize that David Ortiz, the now 37-year-old DH, is leading the team in batting average, RBI’s, OBP, and, of course, home runs. It’s hard to imagine a team with a solid pitching staff like Boston’s backing up an offense led by Ortiz not winning their division.
How Atlanta gets there
Familiar faces like Justin Upton and Jason Heyward continue to provide consistent excellence as core players on a team that looks like it can win 100. Newcomers like Freddie Freeman and Chris Johnson though will decide if this year’s Atlanta team is the real deal.
Freeman, the eccentric 23-year-old first baseman, has burst onto the scene this season to lead the Braves in RBI’s with 75 as of early August while batting clean above .300. Johnson, on the other hand, is a much more interesting case. The replacement for Brave legend Chipper Jones at the hot corner, the third baseman is a doubles machine and batting over .340. The playoffs could be quite fun for Atlanta if that success continues into October for both their new stars.
The thought that comes most quickly to mind when thinking about the Atlanta Braves in recent years is about them coming up short. They always have a threatening offense and a rotation that can compete with pretty much anybody, but they seem to be lacking the ability to take the next step past the first round of any playoffs.
Boston on the other hand looks like a team that has been building up to this for years, even considering their abysmal 2012. They’re not a perfect team by a long shot, but Peavy does answer a lot of their prayers.
Atlanta has what it takes to establish the names of many new stars and surprise a lot of people this October. Certainly they have paid their dues and earned their spot among the most consistently successful teams in baseball. But the safe pick in early August is the Boston Red Sox, and it’s hard to see that changing any time soon.
Red Sox in 5