Before every series I will post these charts to help you get ready for the games, The methodology is described below.
Buckle up Astros fans. We are in the middle of possibly the hardest nine game stretch on the 2023 Astros schedule. Next up for the Astros is a Braves team that some consider one of the top teams in the MLB. The Braves offense has the potential to be BRUTAL and the pitching has the potential to be better than that. Let's dig into the details and you will know what I mean.
Overall, THIS series may be the toughest test yet for the Astros.
Overall Preseason WAR Comparisons
You can see the projected WAR comparison position by position. There is something different in this table from all but the Blue Jays last time. The BRAVES project to be the more talented team. Their offense projects to be on par with the Astros bats. The Braves project to have better starters AND better relievers. Again, these are the season projection numbers and NOT my opinion.
By the WAR method the Braves would be predicted to win 92 games in 2023 vs. the 89 for the Astros. This data says expect a tough and tight series. Let's look at the grades.
Chart 1- Position Player Roster
Defensive Positions and rosters with bench and key minor league players. Who is injured? Then, the relative scores to arrive at who is better.
Astros fans should not try to tell Braves fans about our injuries. The Braves enter this series without their starting CF and the player they expected to start at SS. They are also without arguably one of the best batting backup catchers.
One note- Riley lists as a B because he is getting a bump down from the defensive metrics.
The Braves still have four very good hitters and possibly a couple more. The Braves are hot but they could be even hotter if everyone was healthy.
I know it's early, but I was curious; so I added a column for how the players are doing SO FAR in 2023. Several Braves hitters are off to great starts.
Overall, my letter grade scoring system does project the Astros bats to be better. Will this be true against the Braves pitching?
Chart 2- The Projected Batting Orders
In this section I predict the general batting order I expect both teams to use this series. I MIGHT update this as the series progresses. You also see how the batting lineup compares with the 2023 projected grades.
Get through the top four and take your chances, I guess. This is going to be such a challenging matchup.
Chart 3- Pitching Rosters
Starters and Relief pitcher rosters with key minor league players. Who is injured? Then, the relative scores to arrive at who is better.
Wow, the Braves are STACKED in pitching. As a team the Braves have the fourth best FIP in the MLB so far. Overall, the scoring system projects the Braves pitching to be better than the Astros. Their starters projections score better. Their relievers edge out the Astros too, but those projections are shakier, I think, based on that the Braves RP did last year.
The Braves have a TON of injured pitchers too. This means this great pitching staff could even be better. Imagine your pitching staff lost Iglesias, Luetge, Matzek and McHugh and STILL score this well.
This series will be so interesting to see these two teams go at it.
Chart 4- Starting Pitching Matchups,
In this section we look at the SP matchups by game.
The Astros miss Strider and Morton at least. Game 1 may be the biggest advantage the Astros have. Imagine that. Brown the rookie is the biggest matchup advantage.
Folks, I will say it again. Buckle in. This might be a rough series for the Astros.
Series Prediction- I believe the Astros will win at least one of three in this series. The Braves are REALLY a good team. This is truly a test to see how good they can be.
As we have discussed in the previous Astros Report Card Articles here is the grading scale for the position players.
To account for the value of defense a player can get a letter grade bump up or down based on their projected defensive WAR (or actual defensive WAR for 2022) for their primary defensive position.
For the pitchers we will use these two scales- one for 2023 based on projected FIP and the other for the 2022 actual FIP- data.
The overall score will be based on the point values to the right. The differences are tallied in the columns to the right.
Overall Score = Starter Differences + Bench Differences / 2 + MiLB Players Differences /4