Publish Date: 05/26/2022
Fact checked by: Simon Briffa
The Braves have not won more than two consecutive games this season. Despite some impressive performances by starter Kyle Wright and rookie reliever Spencer Strider they have been very mediocre all season. They are middle of the pack in offense, middle pack in pitching and middle of pack defense. And they’re 0-3 in extra-innings games. Check out the best bookmakers for betting on Baseball!
People often talk about a World Series hangover. It seems pretty logical on the surface. The concept is plausible because the New York Yankees were the last team to win consecutive World Series titles, and that was way back in 1998. The World Series champion must grind for more than 200 games before getting back to work and starting all over again. It is a challenging mental and physical task.
But is this possible? It’s also reasonable to assume that the baseball postseason format adds to the difficulty of repeating.
Let’s look at the Braves’ start to see if panic over their losing record is real. Two things are worth considering: How the 21 teams did in the next season and how they did over the first 43 games relative to the rest.
The Plexiglass Principle was a method Bill James developed to show that teams that perform well in one season will tend to do worse the next. This should not be surprising. The majority of World Series champions had many things going for them — good career years, good health and maybe even an essential trade in the season. It is not difficult to see how all these positive factors will not be repeated in the next season.
The Braves did not improve in 2021. They finished at 88-73, a winning percentage of.547 that was lower than what they had in 2020 (.583), 2019, 2019 (.599) and 2018. (.556) Their Pythagorean winning percentage (a formula that determines how many games the team should have won) was.584. Since 2018, they have been remarkably consistent in this department, going.566,564,586 &.584. Check out the top new sportsbooks for betting on Baseball!
The Plexiglass Principle may not apply to the Braves because they didn’t make a significant leap forward in 2021.
(For the record: Here are the four improved teams: The 2000-01 Yankees and the 2001-02 Diamondbacks. Also, the 2008-09 Phillies. And the 2017-18 Astros.
The 2017 Chicago Cubs is a prime example of the World Series hangover theory. They won 92 games, reaching the National League Championship Series, where they lost to the Los Angeles Dodgers. After 43 games, they were 22-21. This was due to too many drinks on the town, talk show visits, and lethargy. Although not as successful as 2016, it was a great season.
Over 43 games, 12 of 21 teams had better-winning percentages than the rest. They had a combined winning percentage. Of 548 through 43 games, they compared to.545 overall. We would expect slower starts if the World Series hangover were a thing. However, there is no clear pattern.
This is all to say, don’t blame the Braves for their mediocre World Series start. Blame it all on mediocrity.
Both Marcell Ozuna and Adam Duvall are having legitimate OBP problems. Even after accounting for the softer ball, Matt Olson and Austin Riley are all below their 2021 performance levels. Both Charlie Morton and Ian Anderson have had slow starts. This is especially true in the control section, where both pitchers walk more batters than usual. The fifth spot in the rotation has been challenging to fill with Bryce Elder and Tucker Davidson, both rookies. To add depth to their bullpen, they managed Collin McHugh and Kenley Jansen. This has been a solid team with a good record outside of the extra innings.
What should Braves fans think? Thanks to an extra wild card, FanGraphs still projects the Braves as a 64.7% chance of reaching the postseason. However, their chances of winning the division have dropped from 53.8% to the beginning of the season to 23%, which reminds us how much baseball we still have to play, despite the Mets’ significant lead.
I would place the concern level higher. Only three of the 21 World Series champions finished below.500 after 43 games. All three (2007 Cardinals and 2014 Red Sox) would end with losing records.
The final verdict on the Braves is I’m going The Panic Is Not Real despite some evidence. The offense still has too much potential so I won’t write the Braves off. They have also played very little in the division, with just four games against the Mets so far — so there is plenty of head to head action to make up the ground.
Now is the right time to go for it: Their next 24 games against teams under.500 are included in the current series against Philadelphia. They will then host the Giants or Dodgers in June.
Although I’m not sure if they can win 90, there is still plenty of talent in the area. The National League middle is so tightly packed that the third wildcard might only need 84 or 85 wins.