So the Braves were knocked out of the playoffs and we are hearing narratives about the lack of an ace and, to a surprisingly lesser degree, the strikeout-prone offense. What some may forget is that the Braves lost some key pieces in the bullpen early in the season, they dealt with injuries and setbacks from players like Tim Hudson and Brandon Beachy and of course a few disappointments. But the Braves had a nice season and are well set for the near future. Plus the playoffs are just one month and a series of one-game, five-game and seven-game series. Folks will apply narratives though they don’t tell us much of anything that we don’t already know about teams.
So let’s assess the 2013 Braves after the hoopla of the playoffs, taking a big-picture, bird’s-eye-above-the-postseason-and-regular-season approach. Let’s start off simple. The Braves won 96 games and finished a game behind the Cardinals for the best record in the National League. They tied Oakland for the fourth-best record in the majors, a game behind both Boston and St. Louis.
The Braves were 5th in the majors and 2nd in the National League in Baseball Reference’s Simple Rating System, which takes into account run differential and strength of schedule. The Braves were 4th in the majors and 2nd in the National League in Pythagorean record, which is just a team’s record based its runs scored and runs allowed.
If we dig a little deeper to Baseball Prospectus’ third-order wins, which takes into account underlying measures of performance along with strength of schedule, the Braves finished tied with the Pirates at third in the National League and both teams are tied for 7th in the majors. The Braves are 10th in the majors in Fangraphs’ Wins Above Replacement and 4th in the National League.
No matter how you slice it, the 2013 Braves probably weren’t the best team in baseball or the National League. But if you did some sort of power rankings of the 2013 season, taking into account the entire season without regard to the playoffs, the Braves would clearly be in the top ten. It wasn’t all that long ago, 2008, that the Braves finished under .500. After The Run the Braves finished under .500 twice in three seasons from 2006 to 2008. In 2007 they finished with 84 wins and a .519 winning percentage. With one of the youngest teams in baseball in 2013, young players who are already stars or full of star potential already playing in the majors, some more solid prospects coming up, and four consecutive first or second-place finishes, it’s safe to say the Braves franchise has bounced back. With or without winning the fun little postseason tournament, the Braves’ 2013 season is a huge success.