Ryan Braun vs. Juan Soto
This year’s Ryan Braun is a far cry from what he was in his peak years of 2007-2012, but he still put up solid numbers. With his 116 OPS+ this year, he has still never posted an OPS+ below 100 in his entire career. With all the ups and downs, he’s never been a below league-average hitter. His .285/.343/.505 slash line with 22 homers is respectable, and we all can see that the clutch gene is still very much present for Braun.
While it’s the 35 year old veteran in left field for the Milwaukee Brewers, the Nationals have 20 year old sophomore Juan Soto out there. Soto this year has hit .282/.401/.548 with 34 home runs and an OPS+ of 138. This kid has a lot of tools and is a great, young outfielder.
While age and experience can definitely be beneficial in this situation, Braun is also dealing with a calf issue and will definitely be at less than 100% in this game.
Lorenzo Cain vs. Victor Robles
Lorenzo Cain should win the Gold Glove this year. We’ve been saying this for years and it hasn’t happened, but it’s hard to argue he’s most deserving at this point. As great as Cain is defensively, he went through some struggles this year at the plate. He finished the season with a .260/.325/.372 slash line with 11 home runs, 18 stolen bases, and a 81 OPS+, a huge drop from last season.
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Victor Robles, who has been one of baseball’s top prospects for a few years now, finally got regular playing time this year after the free agent departure of Bryce Harper. Robles hit .255/.326/.419 with 17 home runs, 28 stolen bases, and a 88 OPS+. These two are similar players offensively and both are really good defensive center fielders.
I’m going to give the slight edge here to Cain since his defense is slightly better and his postseason experience will help him out whereas Robles has none.
Trent Grisham vs. Adam Eaton
With a healthy Christian Yelich, the Milwaukee Brewers easily win this matchup. Without him, they do not. Trent Grisham has been solid, hitting .231/.328/.410 with six home runs and a 90 OPS+. He’s been seeing most of his time lately in the leadoff spot, which has put him in plenty of big situations.
However, Adam Eaton is hitting .279/.365/.428 with 15 homers and a 101 OPS+ this year. Although it’s been his worst full season since 2013 with Arizona, he’s still had a good year. He’s fast, solid defensively, and can provide the offense a big boost.
In this comparison, the Brewers and Nationals are evenly matched, with four position wins apiece. Some wins are bigger than others, such as Grandal over Gomes and Turner over Arcia, but these are two evenly matched teams on offense.
What will set them apart then? It’s all about the pitching staffs. The Wild Card game is going to be determined by which pitching staff blinks first.