mrford: When I first saw your post, I was thinking I'd be ripping apart every single aspect of what you said, as I assumed my baseball knowledge was up to the same level it usually is at this point.
However, as I look more, I am impressed with the stats of the Braves. I'm still going to argue why I disagree that they're the best team in the NL though.
They do currently have the best record in the NL, but their other stats tell the story of a very good team, but not the best team.
For instance, one key stat that almost always catches up to teams over the course of 162 games is run-differential. You can catch good breaks, get clutch hits, and generally get lucky for awhile, and in fact, some teams go the whole season, but most don't. At +69 on the season, the Braves have a good run differential, and they are the best in the NL East. However, they are only 4th in the NL, behind San Diego (+85), St. Louis (+82) and San Francisco (+72).
So overall, this is a key stat where they are 4th of 16 NL teams. Good enough for top 25%, but certainly not the best.
Next, let's look at Pitching. I'm going to use two stats that are excellent for giving a far better indication of how a pitching staff is doing than either of the two tradition stats (W/L record and ERA).
First, let's look at FIP, which is designed to grade pitching based on things the pitcher actually has control over (for a far more in-depth discussion on FIP, there's a link at the end). The Braves are 6th in FIP in the NL, although admittedly, there is a top-tier of teams that probably includes them, as there is a pack of really good pitching teams at the top, then it falls quickly after that.
Walks + Hits per Inning Pitched (WHIP) is the other I'd like to look at, where the Braves, at 1.29 are listed as 3rd in the league behind pitching powerhouse San Diego and the St. Louis Cardinals.
Even if you go with basic stat of ERA, the Braves are again very good, but overshadowed by these two teams, as the Braves are 4th in ERA.
For Hitting, the Braves are a slightly above average team any way you look at it. Whether I looked at OPS, wRAA, wOBA, or about any other sabermetric stat, they come in around 6th place. For ISO (a power stat), they're well below average, being only 11th in the NL.
If you go down their lineup, there's no standout big bat that will scare a pitcher either. Their best OPS guy is Prado at .852, which is certainly good, but not anything spectacular.
I'll also add that I feel that just from the point of view of being a fan of another team, I don't fear the Braves like a fear other teams in that division, so I certainly hope the Braves keep playing well enough and the Phillies keep playing poorly enough that the Braves win that division, as it's currently a slim chance the WC will come from the East.
Having said all that, this post is getting kinda long, so I'll start a new one to tell you who IS the team to beat in the NL. :)
Link for FIP Description: http://www.fangraphs.com/...values-explained-part-two