2013 NLDS Preview: Los Angeles Dodgers vs. Atlanta Braves

Clayton Kershaw
Sep 27, 2013; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Dodgers starting pitcher Clayton Kershaw (22) in the first inning against the Colorado Rockies at Dodger Stadium. Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

We continue our preview of the 2013 Major League Baseball playoffs as we take a closer look at the National League Division Series between the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Atlanta Braves.

OFFENSE

Team

BB%

K%

ISO

OPS

wOBA

BABIP

UBR

wSB

wRAA

Dodgers

7.7%

18.6%

0.133

0.722

0.317

0.308

-11.1

-0.4

11.8

Braves

8.8%

22.6%

0.153

0.723

0.318

0.300

-4.3

-4.2

17.3

Right off the bat, one will see that the Dodgers are the more patient team. The Braves own the highest Strikeout Percentage (K%) among National League playoff teams. Not surprisingly, the Braves also own the highest Swinging Strike Percentage (SwStr%), in the NL as well as they had five players go over the century mark in strikeouts:

  • Dan Uggla
  • Justin Upton
  • B.J. Upton
  • Freddie Freeman
  • Chris Johnson

However, that’s the price Atlanta pays for having such a huge advantage in Isolated Power (ISO) as their collective, aggressive approach assists in having a higher Fly Ball Percentage (FB%), which leads to higher pop ups, but also increases the chances those fly balls turn into home runs (HR/FB%). However, that’s all offset by the Dodgers’ higher Line Drive Rate (LD%) and Contact Rate, helping them match the Braves in OPS and Weighted On-Base Average (wOBA).

Both teams are among the worst base running clubs in the NL as well. To their credit, the Dodgers can generate hits off bunts at a higher rate than the Braves so that’s something to look out for.

As far as Clutch Rating goes:

  • Braves: 0.40
  • Dodgers: -1.33

ADVANTAGE: EVEN 

FIELDING

The Dodgers’ catchers do a better job at preventing runs and stolen bases, though their defensive range at backstop is questionable. The Dodgers also have the advantage in the outfield, as their arms, most notably Yasiel Puig’s, should continue to frustrate an already terrible base running club.

Conversely, the Braves have the second-worst outfield arms among NL playoff teams. This creates a stalemate of sorts as the Dodgers are arguably the worst base running team in the NL.

Though the Dodgers have better defensive range, they’re worst among NL playoff teams in fielding errors. On the other hand, the Braves do a better job in keeping errors in check and are better at turning double plays. All in all however, the Dodgers’ Ultimate Zone Rating (UZR) advantage is only at a +6.8.

ADVANTAGE: EVEN

STARTING PITCHING

SP

K%

BB%

WHIP

BAA

ERA

ERA-

FIP

SIERA

BABIP

Dodgers

20.8%

6.8%

1.20

0.240

3.13

88

3.39

3.70

0.289

Braves

19.7%

6.2%

1.22

0.249

3.51

95

3.58

3.80

0.293

The Dodgers, led by Clayton Kershaw, seem to have the overall advantage in this category. Both teams have high LD%, which should help the batting lineups generate some offense, though the Dodgers induce more ground balls. Meanwhile, the Braves have a higher FB% and that gives them the dubious distinction of owning the worst HR/FB% among the NL playoff teams.

Despite the flaws in the rotation, in terms of batted balls, both rotations rank among the lowest in Contact Rate and both clubs are tops in the NL in SwStr%. As a matter of fact, the Braves induce a lot more swings than the Dodgers and they just so happen to lead the NL in First Pitch Strikes Percentage.

ADVANTAGE: EVEN

BULLPEN

Team

K%

BB%

WHIP

BAA

ERA

ERA-

FIP

SIERA

BABIP

Dodgers

22.7%

9.4%

1.29

0.236

3.49

98

3.56

3.39

0.294

Braves

22.4%

8.3%

1.14

0.219

2.46

67

3.13

3.26

0.275

Both bullpens have high LD%. However, both relief corps do a good job controlling fly balls. The Braves force more pop ups and have the lowest HR/FB% among the NL playoff teams. Of course, the Dodgers own the highest HR/FB% among the NL playoff teams.

Also worth noting is that both bullpens led the NL in lowest Contact Rate and were in the top four in terms of inducing Swinging Strikes, with the Dodgers posting the highest SwStr% among the NL playoff teams. Meanwhile, the Braves do a much better job throwing first pitch strikes.

Though Strikeout Rates are similar, the Braves are much superior in all other statistical categories. With pitchers such as Craig KimbrelJordan Walden, and David Carpenter the Braves can easily make a case for having the best bullpen among the NL teams still alive in this postseason.

ADVANTAGE: ATLANTA

This series is full of checks and balances as neither team has an overwhelming advantage over the other. Should prove to be a very close and exciting series.

All stats courtesy of fangraphs.com.

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