The Brewers and Braves will face off on Friday for Game One of the NLDS. Both teams won their respective divisions, but since Milwaukee had the better overall record they were rewarded with a home-field advantage for this series.
A lot of fans have been wondering how these teams match up as these two National League powerhouses prepare to go head to head this weekend. Going position by position, let’s compare the Brewers and Braves to see who has the advantage at each position.
The Brewers have arguably the best rotation in all of baseball. Led by the three-headed monster of Corbin Burnes, Brandon Woodruff, and Freddy Peralta, the Brewers are confident starting any of those three guys and know that they will get at least five to six dominant innings.
Atlanta has some really good starters as well, but none of them are close to being at the level of Burnes or Woodruff in terms of shutting down opposing lineups. The expected starters for game one will likely be Burnes vs Charlie Morton, and game two will likely be Woodruff vs Max Fried.
Brewers have announced their starters for the first two games of the NLCS: Corbin Burnes in Game 1 on Friday, Brandon Woodruff in Game 2 on Saturday.
— Adam McCalvy (@AdamMcCalvy) October 5, 2021
Even after the loss of former Rookie of the Year and NL Reliever of the Year Devin Williams, the Brewers still have the better bullpen in this series. Led by their star closer Josh Hader, the Brewers have gotten consistent production from guys like Brad Boxberger, Jake Cousins, and Hunter Strickland. The Braves have some studs of their own such as Will Smith and Richard Rodriguez, but the Atlanta bullpen is extremely inconsistent, and not really trusted by their own fans. The Brewers again run away with this positional battle.
The Brewers got a lot of production from their catchers this season; so much so that Brewers catcher Omar Narvaez was selected as an All-Star in July. Even with all of the buzz around Narvaez, Brewers backup catcher Manny Piña shouldn’t be slept on. Piña has shown a huge boost in power this season with 13 home runs in just 180 at-bats. The reliable one-two punch of Narvaez and Piña behind the plate for the Crew gives them an advantage over teams like Atlanta who either have to play the experienced, but offensively underwhelming Travis d’Arnaud, or the inexperienced William Contreras. The catching advantage goes to Milwaukee by a landslide.
Freddie Freeman, the reigning NL MVP, is undoubtedly the best first baseman in the National League. He has the talent to singlehandedly produce three to four runs per game for Atlanta when he is hot. After a really strong 2021 season in which he made his fifth All-Star team, Freeman is the most dangerous player in the Braves lineup. Freeman’s impact will be above and beyond whatever Rowdy Tellez and Dan Vogelbach can muster up and there is no questioning that fact.
The Brewers and Braves have both gotten a ton of production from their second basemen throughout the 2021 season. With Atlanta’s Ozzie Albies blasting 30 home runs and driving in 106 RBIs, some might see those numbers and chalk up another positional win to the Braves. However, Kolten Wong of the Brewers has had a career year in terms of his offensive production on top of his gold glove defense. These two players equal each other out and there’s no clear decision when deciding who has the positional advantage at second base.
The Brewers traded for Willy Adames on May 21st after Luis Urias got off to a rough start at shortstop. Since then, the Brewers have become one of the most dangerous teams in all of baseball. As one of the young leaders of Milwaukee’s offense, Adames has the potential to be the most electrifying hitter in the NLDS. The Braves have Dansby Swanson who has taken a step back since his fantastic 2020 season. The combination of Adames and Urias, who have both taken a huge step forward offensively, give the Brewers the advantage at shortstop.
If you asked who had the advantage at third base in July, especially right after the trade deadline, the answer would have been the Brewers. Austin Riley’s last three months of the season narrowed the gap between him and Eduardo Escobar, and the final four weeks of the season pushed him over the top. Riley has quickly become one of the most dangerous hitters in the National League, and will likely prove it in the NLDS against the Brewers.
With the Brewers missing key production from former MVP Christian Yelich and the Braves missing Ronald Acuña Jr, both teams should have big question marks from their outfield, right? Wrong. Atlanta has done an amazing job filling the hole left after the former Rookie of the Year sustained a season ending injury earlier in the year. After trading for Joc Pederson, Adam Duvall, and Jorge Soler midway through the season, the Braves outfield is quite literally stronger than ever. Their home run potential is a scary sight for the Brewers and their fans. Although Milwaukee has gotten surprise production from players like Avisail Garcia and Tyrone Taylor, their numbers don’t come close to the level of the Braves outfield.
Brewers Win in Four Games
The 2021 NLDS is going to be a fun series to watch. Both teams are extremely talented and know what it takes to win when it counts. While it’s really close to an even matchup when considering specific positions, the Brewers have shown that they have some of the best chemistry in all of baseball. On top of that, their depth is one of their strengths, and they have a manager who knows how to get the most out of every player. The Brewers will likely win the first two games at home and eventually win the series in four games.
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