The Atlanta Braves and Washington Nationals are relatively new rivals in the National League East, but their rivalry has intensified in recent seasons. The Braves and Expos have been rivals since the 1960s, but the rivalry became more intense when the franchise was moved to Washington D.C. Atlanta was the gold standard in the National League East for the early part of the 21st century, but the Nationals have put a dent in their reign since being moved to Washington D.C. The New York Mets are still the Atlanta Braves’ biggest rivals, but that could change as the Nationals continue to improve. Both Atlanta and Washington D.C. are terrific baseball cities when their teams are playing winning baseball, and the fan bases have helped to grow this rivalry in recent seasons.
History of Braves vs. Nationals Rivalry
The rivalry between the Atlanta Braves and the Montreal Expos dates all the way back to the 1969 season when both teams were members of the National League East Division. The Braves and Nationals began playing games against each other in 2005, and the rivalry has gotten more intense through the years. Atlanta holds a 366-349 lead in the all-time series against the Nationals franchise, and the Braves have won over 54 percent of their home games during that stretch.
The two teams have never met in the Major League Baseball Playoffs, but that could change now that the Nationals have turned their franchise into a perennial playoff contender. Washington has dominated Atlanta this decade, posting a 91-77 record against the Braves since the 2010 season. The Braves and Nationals have combined to win seven National League East Division titles since the 2005 season, and they will be popular preseason picks heading into the 2019 season. The Nationals don’t have the tradition that the Braves have built, but they appear to be well on their way.
The Atlanta Braves are actually one of the oldest franchises in professional baseball history, as they were founded all the way back in 1871. The Braves have been a member of the National League since 1876, and they originally got their start in Boston. The team has changed names 10 different times in league history, before eventually settling in Atlanta and on the Braves in 1966.
The Braves and Chicago Cubs are the only two remaining charter members of the National League, and the Braves are one of the most storied franchises in baseball. The Braves won the division a record 14 straight times from 1991-2005 but were unable to rack up a ton of World Series titles during that time. Atlanta assembled one of the best and most famous starting rotations in baseball history with Hall of Famers Greg Maddux, John Smoltz, and Tom Glavine leading those division champion teams. The Braves returned to the playoffs in 2018 after suffering through some rough years at the beginning of the decade.
The Washington Nationals got their start as the Montreal Expos in 1969 and remained north of the border through the 2004 season. There have been seven other baseball franchises based in Washington D.C., but the Nationals are the first since the 1971 season. The Nationals struggled in their first few seasons in the nation’s capital but won four division titles from 2012-2017. The franchise made just one playoff when the team was located in Montreal, and the playing conditions and stadiums were among the league’s worst. The Nationals are still looking for their first league championship in franchise history, but they have had some terrific teams in recent seasons.
Head to Head Comparison of Braves and Nationals
There really is no comparison in postseason success between the Atlanta Braves and Washington Nationals. The Nationals are still looking for their first World Series title in franchise history, and they have yet to advance out of the first round since being relocated to D.C.
The Braves have won three World Series titles in franchise history, but have also struggled to get past the first round in the playoffs in several seasons. The Braves have won the National League pennant a whopping 17 times and have won a total of 18 division titles. The Nationals have won five division titles but have yet to win a National League pennant.
Look at Last 20 Games Between Braves and Nationals
The Atlanta Braves and Washington Nationals met 19 times during the 2018 season, and their final meeting in 2017 came on September 21. Both the Braves and Nationals were playoff contenders a season ago, but the Braves eventually pulled away to win the National League East. Atlanta posted an 11-9 record against Washington in the last 20 games and posted a three-game winning streak during the 2018 season.
Looking at the 2018 season should help make predictions for the 2019 Major League Baseball season and for games within this rivalry. 11 of the last 20 games in this rivalry were played in Atlanta, and the Braves went 7-4 in their home ballpark. The Nationals were able to hold serve at home, posting a 5-4 record against the Braves at Nationals Park. The Nationals did win the final two games against the Braves in 2018, and odds are that they will be competitive again in 2019.
Looking at the outright winner in the last 20 games gives us a small glimpse into this rivalry, but there is plenty more to look at. In the last 20 games, there was a run line of 1.5 runs either way, and looking at those results can help make a betting prediction for the 2019 season. Atlanta was actually the betting favorite in just five of the last 20 games, even though they were clearly the better team a season ago.
The Braves managed to cover the 1.5 run spread in just two of the five games in which they were the betting favorite. In the 15 games that the Nationals were 1.5 run favorites, they managed to go just 6-15 against the spread. If the last 20 games are any indication of this rivalry will go in 2019, betting the team that is the underdog is clearly the way to go. The Braves and Nationals combined to go “under” the run total in 10 games, went “over” in seven games, and pushed in the other three. The next 20 games won’t always go the same way, but this should help to make some predictions for future seasons.