MLB: The Two Faces of the Atlanta Braves

MLB: The Two Faces of the Atlanta Braves

The Atlanta Braves bring to mind Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde or maybe Sally Fields Emmy-winning TV-movie "Sybil" (1976), about a woman with multiple personalities.


The Atlanta Braves bring to mind Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde or maybe Sally Fields Emmy-winning TV-movie "Sybil" (1976), about a woman with multiple personalities. Whatever it is, Atlanta is either the easiest baseball wager of all-time or the most confounding team in years.

We'll start with the basics; Atlanta is 30-28, tied with the Mets for third place in the NL East, having lost -3.5 units of profit for backers. The Braves have a +51 run differential, which is extreme, considering National League teams with similar aren't even close. The Mets are +2, Houston -12, and Milwaukee is -13.

On to the crazy stuff. Atlanta is 23-7 at Turner Field this season, second best in NL, gathering +13.6 units, when wagered upon. They score 5.6 runs a game at home, which trails only the Cubs and Philadelphia as homies. They hit a robust .307 when wearing the white uniforms and outscore the opposition by 1.9 runs per game. The Braves are a rock solid 14-4 at home with a money line of -100 to -150 this season.

Contrast this with the same exact players that go on the road, with - Atlanta -stitched across their chest. After another lugubrious road trip that saw them post a 1-5 mark, Atlanta is league worst 7-21, burying those who might think they can turn it around, at revolting -17.1 units in just 28 games. "It's mind-boggling," Braves pitcher Tim Hudson said Sunday. "How good we can play at home, and how putrid we've been on the road."

Tom Glavine returned to the place of his greatest triumphs and has seen it all in his career and is adding another chapter. "It just seems like whatever can go wrong on the road has," Glavine said. "I've never been on a team like this -- money at home, and can't do anything on the road." The veteran left-hander went on to say, "You have to figure that at some point we're going to start cooling off at home. But we'd better not, until we figure out how to win on the road."

In the numerical sense here is what Glavine understands. Philadelphia is on pace to win 92 games in the NL East. If the Braves were to play one game over .500 the rest of the year on the road (27-26), this would mean they would have to win 37 of last 55 home games, just to tie the Phillies. Granted, that would be below current home winning percentage, truth is nobody can reasonably expect to go 58-23 at home.

What is the problem for the Bravos on the road? Ranking 27th at 3.7 RPG on the road doesn't help. After losing four one-run games on recent road excursion, manager Bobby Cox had a positive spin, "we've got a good club, because you're (we're) right in everything." True enough, but another black cloud is hanging over this franchise. Atlanta has tied the Pittsburgh Pirates (1985 to 1986) for the most consecutive one run road losses at 20, dating back to August 10 of last season. The all-time record is within reach, with Kansas City at 21, covering the close of 2000 campaign, before ending in 2001. For the entire year, the Braves are 2-16 in games decided by a single run. The bullpen, in spite of Top 10 earned run average in baseball, is 0-8 in win/loss situations on the road, proving they are making the one critical mistake when team can least afford to do so.

Chipper Jones has said he felt the number of young players on the roster has contributed to strange anomaly, yet last year with essentially the same roster, they were 44-37 at "the Ted" and 40-41 as the visitor. Other quirky stats also make this situation hard to figure. Though the Atlanta hitters have scored far more runs at home than away, they strikeout more often at home (H 13th R 5th). The Braves have shown more plate discipline as visitors, having the third most walks of any road team, compared to ninth versus other home squads. Though this statistic has proven not to as important as the radio and TV folks report, Cox's club leaves the second most runners on base in home ballparks and is 18th on the road leaving runners on the base paths.

What can one conclude from the befuddling Braves? As opposed to football or basketball wagering, which frequently have the "due" factor, when it comes to betting baseball, ride the tide. Atlanta has a seven-game homestand against two of the teams ahead of them in the NL East, Florida and Philadelphia, suggesting keep playing on them in Hotlanta. When they go back on the road next Tuesday, to face the Cubs, back the home team decidedly.

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