Phillies-Braves position-by-position breakdown

October 9th, 2022

The Braves won 11 of their 19 games against the Phillies this season, but the run differential -- Atlanta outscored Philadelphia, 88-85 -- shows how thin the margin was between the two National League East rivals.

When they take the field Tuesday at Truist Park to open the best-of-five NL Division Series, the Braves will be trying to start the defense of their World Series title, looking to become the Majors’ first back-to-back champions since the Yankees won three straight from 1998-2000.

The Phillies? They’re trying to get back to the NL Championship Series for the first time since 2010. Philly has already stunned one division champion with its two-game sweep of the Cardinals, but the 101-win Braves may prove to be a different animal.

Let’s see how these clubs match up position-by-position:

Postseason ticket information: Phillies | Braves


Travis d’Arnaud had a solid season for Atlanta, hitting 18 home runs with 60 RBIs and a .791 OPS in 107 games. The 33-year-old is making his fifth postseason appearance and third straight with the Braves, for whom he posted an .875 OPS with two homers in last year’s World Series. d’Arnaud also ranked third in the Majors in pitch framing in 2022, giving him great value behind the plate.

J.T. Realmuto posted an .820 OPS with 22 homers and 84 RBIs in the regular season, leading all big league catchers with a 6.5 fWAR. Playing in his first postseason, Realmuto went 1-for-6 with two walks in the Phillies’ two-game Wild Card Series sweep of the Cardinals.

Slight advantage: Phillies

First base 

Matt Olson hasn’t caused Braves fans to forget about Freddie Freeman, but the 28-year-old had an excellent debut season for Atlanta. Olson hit 34 home runs with a team-high 103 RBIs during the regular season, playing all 162 games. 

Rhys Hoskins was just as durable this season, hitting 30 homers with 79 RBIs in 156 games. Playing in his first postseason, Hoskins went 0-for-9 with three strikeouts against St. Louis in the NL Wild Card Series.  

Advantage: Braves

Second base 

Orlando Arcia played well while filling in for the injured Ozzie Albies, hitting nine home runs with 30 RBIs and a .733 OPS in 68 games. Arcia had only five plate appearances in last year’s postseason, but he thrived in his three Octobers with the Brewers, posting an .879 OPS with four home runs in 13 games. Arcia should get the bulk of the starts in the NLDS, though rookie Vaughn Grissom could start against lefty Ranger Suárez. 

Jean Segura’s regular season was interrupted by injury, as he hit 10 homers with 33 RBIs in 98 games. After a decade and more than 1,300 games in the Majors, the 32-year-old is finally getting his first crack at the postseason. While he went just 1-for-5 against St. Louis, that one hit keyed Philadelphia’s Game 1 comeback win

Slight advantage: Phillies


Dansby Swanson was an All-Star for the first time this season, hitting 25 home runs with 96 RBIs, 99 runs scored and a .776 OPS while playing all 162 games. The impending free agent struggled during the first two rounds of the postseason last fall, but he hit a pair of homers in the World Series against the Astros, bringing his postseason career home run total to five.

Bryson Stott had his ups and downs during his rookie season, showing flashes of power (10 home runs) despite a subpar slash line (.234/.295/.358) in 127 games. The 25-year-old went 0-for-4 in the Wild Card Series, though he drew three walks and drove in an insurance run in the Phillies’ wild Game 1 comeback win.

Advantage: Braves

Third base 

Austin Riley should earn some NL MVP votes after leading the Braves in home runs (38) and OPS (.878) this season. Riley homered in each of the first two rounds in last year’s postseason, posting a .908 OPS in the NLDS against the Brewers.  

Alec Bohm hit 13 home runs with 72 RBIs and a .713 OPS in 152 games this season, ranking 34th out of 36 qualified third basemen in Outs Above Average (-8). Bohm was 2-for-5 with two walks in this year’s Wild Card Series, belting a pair of doubles. 

Advantage: Braves

Left field

Eddie Rosario should get the nod against the Phillies’ righties, though Robbie Grossman could start against Suárez in Game 1. Rosario will be looking to make up for a difficult regular season marred by vision problems and inconsistency, hoping to find the October magic that helped him win NLCS MVP honors a year ago.

Kyle Schwarber led the NL with 46 home runs, though he also paced the Majors with 200 strikeouts. Schwarber -- who was 0-for-7 with two RBIs in the Wild Card Series -- has played in the postseason in seven of his eight years in the Majors, posting an .823 OPS with nine homers and 19 RBIs in 37 postseason games.

Advantage: Phillies

Center field 

Michael Harris II had an impressive debut season that should land him NL Rookie of the Year honors, as he slashed .297/.339/.514 with 19 homers, 64 RBIs and 20 stolen bases in 114 games. The 21-year-old Harris also displayed tremendous defense; his 7 Outs Above Average was tied for eighth-best in the Majors among center fielders.  

Brandon Marsh was an under-the-radar acquisition this summer, especially after posting a .637 OPS in 93 games with the Angels to open the season. Since joining the Phillies, Marsh -- who was 2-for-5 in the Wild Card series -- has a .774 OPS in 41 games, helping solidify the position for Philadelphia.  

Advantage: Braves

Right field 

Ronald Acuña Jr. wasn’t a part of the World Series run last fall thanks to a torn ACL, but the 24-year-old returned to All-Star form this season. Acuña hit 15 homers with 50 RBIs and 29 steals in 119 games, though his .764 OPS was well short of his .925 mark through the first four years of his career. 

Nick Castellanos’ first season in Philadelphia did not go particularly well for the slugger, who managed just 13 homers, 62 RBIs and a .694 OPS in 136 games. His Wild Card Series didn’t go any better; Castellanos was 0-for-7 with a walk against the Cardinals. 

Advantage: Braves

Designated hitter

Marcell Ozuna served as Atlanta’s DH in the final two games of the Braves’ big series against the Mets last week, so he’s likely to see most of the action in the NLDS. William Contreras -- who had a 1.036 OPS against lefties in the regular season -- should get the nod in Game 1 against Suárez.

Bryce Harper is playing in his fifth postseason, though the Wild Card Series victory over the Cardinals was his first-ever postseason series win. Harper was 2-for-7 with a home run against St. Louis, helping erase the frustration of his injury-plagued season in which he hit 18 homers with an .878 OPS in 99 games.

Advantage: Phillies

Starting pitching 

After earning the first-round bye, the Braves have the advantage of lining up their rotation. Max Fried and Kyle Wright won 35 games between them in 2022, forming one of the best 1-2 punches in the league. Rookie Spencer Strider was very impressive in his 131 2/3 innings (86 hits, 202 strikeouts, 2.67 ERA), but a left oblique injury cut his September short. If Strider is available, it could be as an opener-type starter. Veteran Charlie Morton -- who has two World Series rings and a 3.35 ERA in 17 career postseason outings -- should start Game 3 or 4.  

The Phillies started Zack Wheeler and Aaron Nola in their Wild Card Series sweep of the Cardinals, as the two combined for 13 shutout innings. Now they won’t be able to start until Games 2 and 3, leaving the Game 1 start to Ranger Suárez, who posted a 3.65 ERA in 29 starts this season. A Game 4 start could go to Noah Syndergaard or Bailey Falter.  

Advantage: Braves


Kenley Jansen led the NL with 41 saves this season, his first in Atlanta. The closer has pitched well in his nine postseasons with the Dodgers, posting a 2.13 ERA and 19 saves in 57 playoff appearances. Raisel Iglesias has been nearly unhittable since being acquired by the Braves at the Trade Deadline, allowing one earned run in 28 appearances for a minuscule 0.34 ERA with Atlanta. A.J. Minter, Dylan Lee and Collin McHugh will also be called upon to get big outs.  

Zach Eflin has been very effective in a relief role since returning from a knee injury in September, so much so that the Phillies handed him the ball in the ninth inning of both Wild Card Series games against the Cardinals. Setting him up will be José Alvarado, who also pitched in both games against St. Louis, along with Seranthony Domínguez and David Robertson, the latter of whom has a wealth of postseason experience.  

Advantage: Braves


The Phillies shocked the Cardinals with their two-game Wild Card Series sweep, but the Braves aren’t about to be surprised by anybody as they begin their title defense. Atlanta has been the hottest team in the game for the past four-plus months, so while we won’t count the Phillies out -- Philadelphia did win eight games against the champs this season -- it would be a surprise if the Braves didn’t return to the NLCS for the third consecutive year. 

Braves in four