Ian Anderson's emergence makes Braves biggest threat to Dodgers

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Are the Atlanta Braves the biggest threat to the Los Angeles Dodgers, or is it the other way around? A case could be made for either declaration.

There isn’t a lot we can say definitively about this baseball season, with its short run and wonky, siloed schedule format. The Dodgers have been the consensus pick to win the World Series for months, arguably since Feb. 10 — the day L.A. acquired Mookie Betts from Boston. The regular season only solidified that rough consensus, as the Dodgers posted the fifth-best winning percentage in history, supported by a run differential (plus-136) at least 62% better than every other club in the majors.

Yet, there is a problem with such a consensus, beyond the small sample size of a 60-game mini-season. The Dodgers played only nine of the other 29 clubs during the regular season, same as the Braves and everyone else. There were no common opponents among any of the teams who will ultimately meet in the League Championship Series round. Thus declaring the Dodgers as the No. 1 team is an article of speculation, much like a wire service college football poll.

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