Atlanta Braves

Out Of No Where

By: Charlie Moon news services

Oh come on, we all saw this coming, right?

Raise your hand if you knew the following: Prior to the 2024 Atlanta Braves campaign, a guy with one of the most unassuming names – Lopez – would not only lead the Braves in ERA, but as of June 26, all of Major League Baseball. Oh, come on, stop that!

I mean, Lopez? In the English language world of last names, you got names like Smith and Johnson. But in Hispanic culture, you have names like Fernandez and… Lopez. Who would have thought a guy that was destined for a velled middle relief spot in the Braves bullpen would sit atop MLB?

When you think of momentous trades and/or roster additions in Atlanta Braves and MLB history during my lifetime, a couple come to mind.

Probably the most recognizable and arguably, the most influential trade in Braves history, was for the man affectionately known around Braves Country as “Smoltzie.”

It was August 1987 and the Braves were still in their lovable losers days, while Detroit was in a heated AL-East race with the Blue Jays.

The Tigers needed one more starting piece to their rotation and they got it. The Braves sent veteran Doyle Alexander to the Tigers. Alexander went on to garner 10 wins in that short August – October span. The Tigers won the AL East by two games over the Blue Jays and lost in the ALCS to the Twins in five games.

And the Braves got an unknown kid named John Smoltz, who wasn’t even in the majors. He was in his rookie season, with the Tigers’ minor league affiliate, Lakeland, (FL) team.

Who knew then, that Smoltz would become one of the most renowned pitchers in Atlanta Braves history?

Who can forget the July 20, 1993 Fulton County Stadium fire in the press box prior to the game against the Cardinals?

The Braves were 8 games back of the San Francisco Giants. I guess it was a presage to McGriff’s own fire at the plate. He belted a tying home run in the 6th, enroute to an 8-5 win over St. Louis.

Call it six degrees of separation, but later I’ll tell you the Cardinals tie to Lopez’s big splash. McGriff went on to aid Atlanta in an epic 8-game division winning comeback in the second half of the season.

And that trade? The Braves sent OFs Melvin Nieves and Vince Moore and RHP Donnie Elliott to the San Diego Padres for McGriff. I’d say the Braves got the best of that one.

And now, Reynaldo Lopez? In most trade reports, you’ll see something like, “On November 20, 2023, the Braves added another reliever…..”

That’s right. Lopez has spent nearly all of his 9-year career in the bullpen. He went a combined 17-25 in 2018 and 2019 as a starter for the Chicago White Sox, but that’s pretty much it for the big, strong right-hander out of the Dominican Republic.

The rest of his nine years have almost all been in the pen.

That is – until now. Chris Sale and Max Fried have been phenomenal, combining to go 17-5. Sale has even been a pleasant surprise, since coming over from the Red Sox. That was a huge get for Atlanta itself.

But it’s been Lopez, from nowhere, that has stolen the show, from a numbers standpoint. Remember that tie-in with McGriff and the Cardinals?

Well, in Wednesday’s 6-2 win over the Cardinals, Lopez went 5 innings and earned the win. But, it also put him over the required 75 innings to be on the MLB Leaderboard in ERA, at 1.70.

Look, between Braves GMs Schuerholz and current Alex Anthopoulos, they have been a lot of great trades and signings. But in the end, it may be one that came while we were all eating left-over turkey sandwiches during November’s hot stove league, that just might take the cake.

Shaky Knees

By: Robert Craft news services

Baseball is a metaphor for life, one of its most enduring lessons is that the universe gives not one whit for our collective desires; it will mete out blessings and hardships as it sees fit.

Last year, Ronald Acuña Jr. became the first player to hit 40+ home runs and steal 70+ bases in the same season, winning NL MVP for his efforts. It was a truly remarkable and historic season, one that fans of the Braves and the MLB will never forget.

In the first two months of the season, the Braves lost Spencer Strider, the 2023 MLB wins and strikeouts leader, with season-ending elbow surgery after two starts.

The Braves also lost Acuña, the first player to have as many as 40 homers and 70 stolen bases in a season, to an ACL tear. Acuña finished with 41 and 73 in 2023, while batting .337 with an NL-best 1.012 OPS.

Even with his early struggles this season, he still had a solid .351 OBP and was a threat every time he was at the plate and made opposing pitchers uneasy from the first pitch.

Leading off the first inning, he had a .333 average with an .857 OPS, and leading off any inning he hit .356 with a .420 OBP and .886 OPS. Not up to his lofty standards, but still the majors’ ninth-best average when leading off innings. A year ago, Acuña hit .384 with 18 homers and a 1.134 OPS leading off innings.

2023 was a triumphant return to form for Acuña after he tore his right ACL in July 2021. He returned to action in late April of 2022, but it took time to regain his mojo, posting a career-low 2.6 bWAR upon his return. (Not counting the shortened 2020 season.)

If that timeline is the career roadmap, then we may not see Acuña in peak form again until 2026. He will miss the remainder of this season.

Needless to say, Acuña’s absence is a huge blow to the Braves, who are currently chasing the Philadelphia Phillies in the NL East. Of course, it was a big blow when Atlanta lost him in 2021 — and they went and won the World Series.

Which likely brings us to-gulp- 2026 for the next potential glimpse of Acuña at an MVP level. He will be 28 that year, still in his baseball prime.

If he stays relatively healthy from that point forward, he can still fulfill his Hall of Fame potential. But who can predict how this all might play out, especially now that he has twice suffered these freakish knee injuries?

Acuña is still just 26 years old. He’s been through this injury and rehab before, and there’s little doubt that he’ll be back to electrifying the baseball diamond soon enough.

The results of that work were not fully apparent when he returned in late April 2022, and did not become truly evident until ’23.

Acuña undoubtedly will adopt the same mindset again, knowing what steps he must take, literally and figuratively, to return to MVP form.

That will not make his rehabilitation any less lonely or frustrating. The last thing Ronald Acuña Jr. wanted was to go through this again. Forgive him if he wants to scream.

Man, what a huge bummer.

Replacing The Ace

By: Jeb Watkins news services

The Atlanta Braves will be without their ace Spencer Strider for the remainder of the 2024 season.

The organization released information recently that the flame-throwing 25-year-old underwent UCL surgery on his right elbow.

An early 2025 season return seems to be the best braves fans like myself can hope for.

The show must go on however, and the Bravos need to fill his spot in the rotation.

Notice I said fill and not replace, and here is why. Strider is not just the braves ace, he’s a stud, a top 5 pitcher in the league and a Cy Young contender.

His 281 strikeouts last season were a franchise record, so to say any of the names on this list can replace him would be an insult.

Although, Braves GM Alex Anthopoulos has replaced an MVP caliber player before back in 2021 and it was good enough to win a championship. So, let’s go through and see who the Braves best options are for the open position.

For this article we will look at internal options only.

Alan Winans tried out against the Mets Thursday and flunked out. He posted 5 innings allowing 7 runs with 6 earned and only 1 strikeout. Atlanta sent him back to triple-A immediately. I expect he’ll get another chance but not anytime soon.

Darius Vines was subsequently called up. Vines pitched in 5 games last year and turned in a 3.98 ERA over 20 innings of work, so the sample size on him is just too small. I expect him to fare better than his teammate Winans did, since vines typically pitches to contact and the Braves have above average defensive play.

I don’t think he is the answer right now though and he will be going back to Gwinnett soon.

AJ Smith-Shawver is an interesting case in this situation. At 21 years old he probably has the rawest pitching talent on this list, I love watching this kid pitch and I believe he can be the answer long term this season to replace strider.

He’s struggled out of the gate this season in triple-A and will need a couple of good outings before the Braves call him up to fill in.

Last year as a 20-year-old he posted a 4.26 ERA with 20K’s and only 11 walks over 25 innings of work. He also got 2 innings of postseason experience.

Bryce Elder has the most likely odds to fill the spot early in the season mainly because he has the most experience out of all the Braves young options.

The big righty started 31 games last year and made the All-Star team in his rookie season.

He became more average in the second half of the season and eventually lost his spot in the rotation during Spring Training, losing out to Reynaldo Lopez.

Elder another pitch to contact guy can thrive with this Braves team though when the bats are humming he won 12 games with only 4 losses and a respectable 3.81 ERA.

I think you can expect to see this guy called up next after Vines is sent back down.

Dark Horses: The last three on this list are long shots but expect them to get some work in while number 99 is recovering.

Dylan Dodd the only lefty on this list, he pitched in 7 games in 2023, turning in a disappointing 7.60 ERA in 34 innings with 15K’s and 12 walks.

Dodd is likely working on his command and stamina in triple-A and will need more time for correction before he is ready to come back to the show.

Huascar Ynoa, we know this guy has the stuff to pitch at the big-league level. Ynoa had somewhat of a breakout year in 2021 starting 17 games and finishing with a 4.05 ERA 100K’s with 25 walks in 91innings.

The following 2022 season saw him struggle with command and arm soreness, which eventually led to him having his own Tommy John surgery and missing the 2023 season.

Ynoa only got 1 inning in the spring so I expect the team wants to see more from him in the minors for now.

Hurston Waldrep, the Cairo Georgia native and Thomasville High Graduate was taken 24th overall by the Braves in last year’s draft.

Waldrep is a real long shot. He had some nice outings in double A Mississippi last season and got 1 start at the triple A level and did well.

The Braves started him out in Mississippi this year though and he’s had a rough go of it in only two starts. I don’t think we will see this kid until September at the earliest.

The $100 Million Dollar Knee

By: Robert Craft news services

A collective sigh of relief blanketed the Atlanta Braves, their fans, and superstar Ronald Acuña Jr.

Dr. Neal ElAttrache confirmed a team doctor’s diagnosis of meniscus irritation in Acuña’s right knee. Any injury more serious than that might’ve made the National League MVP go into surgery.

The Braves said that Acuña will gradually increase baseball activities and he’ll be ready for Opening Day.

The Braves open the season March 28 at their NL East rival Phillies, who beat the Braves in four games in the Division Series in October for the second consecutive year.

After feeling soreness in his surgically repaired right knee Friday, Acuña  was scratched from the lineup Friday and underwent an MRI that showed irritation of the meniscus.

To make sure, and for peace of mind for all parties involved, the Braves decided to have their dynamic leadoff hitter and 2023 MLB stolen-base leader travel to Los Angeles to be examined by ElAttrache, the surgeon who repaired a torn ACL in Acuña’s knee in July 2021.

That was a season-ending injury and surgery that spoiled what had been an MVP-caliber start to 2021.

When soreness and inflammation lingered during his first season back from surgery in 2022, Acuña needed occasional days off to drain fluid from his knee. There were questions regarding how long it might take before Acuña was back at full pre-injury capacity, or if this issue will continue to affect his all-star career.

In 2023, Acuña wasn’t as good as he’d been prior to surgery, he was far better. In fact, he was historically good. The Braves led the majors in almost every major offensive category in 2023, and Acuña was their star of stars.

He became the fifth member of the 40-40 club (40 home runs and 40 stolen bases) and much more, becoming the first player to have 40-50, 40-60 and, finally, 40-70 seasons. Acuña finished with 41 homers and a majors-leading 73 stolen bases while batting .337 with an MLB-best .416 on-base percentage and NL-leading 1.012 OPS.

There was understandable concern when Acuña was flown across the country during the weekend to get a second opinion on his knee. Manager Brian Snitker said Saturday that he was trying to remain optimistic, but that until Acuña was examined by ElAttrache the Braves wouldn’t know for sure.

If ElAttrache found something worse than the original diagnosis, such as a meniscus tear that might require arthroscopic surgery, there was a likelihood that Acuña would miss the early part of the 2023 season. And if that put him behind, there was no telling how long it might take for him to get back up to full speed after returning from a stint on the injured list.

The Braves might need to add a proven outfielder if Acuña was to require an IL stint to begin the season.

That didn’t happen, and the Braves and their fans, along with other fans of the wildly popular Acuña, let out a big sigh of relief.

Meniscus irritation can heal without any form of surgery.

Nothing was any more important for the Braves so far this spring than the medical update on Acuña.


By: Kipp Branch news services

Ronald Jose Acuña Jr. is the best player in baseball. Repeat after me one more time Ronald Jose Acuña Jr. is the best player in baseball. Now that we have that understood let me show you the top ten paid players in baseball:


Ten highest paid players in MLB 2024


Shohei Ohtani, Los Angeles Dodgers – $70 million

Max Scherzer, Texas Rangers – $43.333 million

Justin Verlander, Houston Astros – $43.333 million

Jacob deGrom, Texas Rangers – $40 million

Aaron Judge, New York Yankees – $40 million

Anthony Rendon, Los Angeles Angels – $38.571 million

Mike Trout, Los Angeles Angels – $37.116 million

Gerrit Cole, New York Yankees – $36 million

Patrick Corbin, Washington Nationals – $35.416 million

Stephen Strasburg, Washington Nationals – $35 million


The current NL MVP is not on this list, but he soon should be.

Ronald Acuña Jr. is not eligible to become a free agent until after the 2026 season, but he is already thinking about a contract that will keep him with the Atlanta Braves for life.

Speaking to reporters from spring training last week, Acuña said it’s “not a secret” he wants to be “a Brave for life” and is hopeful they can “make that happen soon.”

Acuña was the first Braves player who signed one of those team-friendly deals that have become so common with the Braves over the years. He agreed to a 10-year, $100 million deal in 2019, when he was 21 years old. The contract has since been re-worked with an option of free agency after year eight.

I cannot fault the Braves for doing team friendly deals with players that project out to be future superstars. Acuña falls in that category.

Would the Braves risk letting this superstar walk in a couple of seasons? This situation has the potential to not turn out so well if the Braves are not willing to have extension talks with the Acuña camp.

Surely the Braves organization feels that Acuña should be one of the top paid players in the game. I can guarantee you that the Dodgers, Yankees, Red Sox, and Mets feel that way.

The longer Atlanta allows extension talks drag out then you allow bitterness to creep in, and if this drags out over a year or so you hurt your chances of resigning the best player in baseball to a long-term extension that will keep Acuña a Braves for life.

After an MVP season the Acuña camp understands their market value, and so do the Atlanta Braves. The Braves knew this day would come.

Grossly undervalued team friendly contracts frustrate me as a fan, but I do understand the business side of it. It feels like a team takes advantage of a young player who comes from a tough background in a developing country. This was Acuña’s case and the Braves threw a big number in front of him at an early age for long-term. The Braves know that if the player develops into a superstar, like in Acuña’s case, then you a very team friendly situation. However, this creates a perception problem.

He led MLB with a .416 on-base percentage, 217 hits and 73 stolen bases last season.

The Braves have Acuña on the books for $17M for 2024. The Yankees are paying Aaron Judge $40M in 2024. The Braves are getting a sweetheart deal here.

Acuña became the first player in MLB history with at least 40 homers and 70 stolen bases in a single season during the 2023 season.

Acuña, the first 40/70 player in MLB history, is the fourth highest paid player on his own team. Matt Olsen, Austin Riley, and Charlie Morton are all compensated better than Ronald.

You must be kidding me. Braves, please get serious about locking down the best player in baseball for life.

Acuña at a minimum deserves Aaron Judge money. Period. End of story. Please get it done Braves. The last thing Braves fans want to hear is the word holdout associated with Ronald Acuña while he is an Atlanta Brave.

Buy Or Sale?

By: Colin Lacy news services

Braves fans have been clamoring for a big move by Alex Anthopoulos to re-vamp the Atlanta club going into 2024.

In a trade between Christmas and New Year, the Braves pulled the trigger bringing Chris Sale to “the A”.

The 7-time All-Star has been riddled with injuries the last 3 years and hasn’t appeared in more than 20 games since 2019.  Despite the health issues, both he and the Braves believe he is the healthiest he has been in a while.

“I feel really good.  This is the first time in quite a while I’ve been able to have a normal offseason,” Sale said in media availability from the Braves Spring Training facility in North Port. “I’ve been throwing bullpens since November, and I haven’t been able to do that for years!”

Originally when the trade was finalized, Boston was sending Chris Sale and $17 million (to cover that amount of Sale’s salary) in exchange for former Braves top-prospect Vaughn Grissom.

Because of Sale’s contract structure, Sale was owed $27.5 million in 2024, with the Red Sox paying $17 million of that, the Braves were on the hook for $10.5 million, but $10 million of that 10.5 was deferred to be paid in 2039, so essentially the Braves were getting Sale for $500K in 2024.

That changed, however, just 5 days later with Chris Sale and the Braves announcing a 2-year extension of the contract on January 4th.

With the new contract, Sale will collect $16 million in 2024, and $22 million in 2025 with a $18 million club option for 2026. Don’t forget that Boston is still paying $17 million of Sale’s salary, so the Red Sox will be essentially paying all of Sale’s 2024 earnings, and an additional million of the 2025 pay.

I know this may not have been the “big splash” that Atlanta faithful were looking for, but this is sneakily a fantastic deal for the Braves. You not only get a quality left-handed starter to add to the rotation, but also an experienced 34-year-old that has seen a lot at the big-league level.

Yes, Sale has been injury-laden the last 3 years, but of those, he returned for a good portion of 2023 with the Red Sox, making 20 starts with a 6-5 record and a 4.30 ERA (remember after not having a normal off-season and beginning of the year).

This year, he will enter with the first normal off-season into spring training for him since 2018 when he went 12-4 and posted a 2.11 ERA and finished 4th in the Cy Young Award voting.

I’m not saying he’s going to post those numbers and turn into the ace of the staff in Atlanta (although it may be a distant possibility), but the great thing for Atlanta is…. The Braves don’t need him to be that.

Braves pitching took a hit themselves from the injury bug in the pitching rotation in 2023, but everything looks promising as the team heads to North Port for Spring Training.

Spencer Strider and Max Fried are one of (if not the single) best 1-2 punches at the top of a rotation in baseball.

Although Fried was also injured at different points in 2023, he pitched well when he was available, and with a full off-season to get right ahead of a contract year, I’d expect a big 2024 from Fried.

Strider has been about as steady as it gets. Somehow, I still believe Strider is underrated on the grand scheme of the MLB, but we might be slightly biased.

The Braves also picked up the $20 million option for Charlie Morton in 2024, so going into Spring Training 2024, Atlanta should feel good about some combination of Fried, Strider, Morton, Sale being the top 4 of the Atlanta rotation.

So, is it the “flashy bigtime deal”? Probably not, but if there is an organization that has taught baseball that you don’t need a roster full of “flashy, high-priced talent” to win, in the words of the late-great voice of Truist Park Casey Motter, IT’S YOUR ATLANTA BRAVES.

Wheeling And Dealing

By: Colin Lacy news services

For most Major League Baseball players, the month of November is a time to rest, spend much overdue time with their family, and decompress from the grind of a 162-game regular season.

This year, the month of November has been all but restful for Atlanta Braves General Manager Alex Anthopoulos. Over the last month there have been 37 player transactions for the Braves (albeit most of those being players electing free agency), and a couple that have raised the eyebrows and curiosity of Braves Country, but the headlines aren’t all that need to be said.

The one that sent ripples (not quite tidal waves) through the organization was a trade with the Chicago White Sox sending RHP Michael Soroka, LHP Jared Shuster, SS Nicky Lopez, SS Braden Shewmake and RHP Riley Gowens to the south side of Chicago in exchange for Aaron Bummer.

This move had Braves fans scratching their heads, especially considering Soroka was a fan favorite since his debut.

That being said, and as good as Soroka was before tearing his Achilles tendon, his time as a Brave was more than likely numbered anyway. Most, if not all, of the pieces traded to Chi-Town were leading candidates to be non-tendered by Atlanta when the deadline came just hours later than the trade (deadline was Friday 11/17).

Instead of these players turning into free agents, Anthopoulos was able to turn them into another lefty that could play an impactful role into the Bravo’s bullpen.

Just one day later, the transaction hotline was connected with a familiar pipeline between Kansas City and Atlanta.

Two different trades occurred the 17th between the Royals and Braves to send Kyle Wright, and Nick Anderson to KC, and have Jackson Kowar and cash return to the ATL.

Kyle Wright had an injury riddled 2023 season in Atlanta but had been a key part of the Braves rotation in 2022, but injuries kept him from staying in the rotation.

The Braves also delt Wright knowing that he would miss the 2024 season due to shoulder surgery and would still be paying Wright approximately $1.4 million as he rehabs.

The other deal with the Royals had the Braves send Nick Anderson, who like Soroka was a likely candidate of being non-tendered, in return for cash considerations.

There are also a couple of transactions that fly under the radar with the front office in Atlanta officially not tendering contracts to 7 players who were previously on the 40-man roster including Kolby Allard, Chadwick Tromp, and Yonny Chirinos.

Why is this important? Because when you add all of the moves together, yes, the Braves clear up some payroll space, but at the end of the day, the Braves ended up with 30 players on the 40-man roster.

This allows the Braves to re-tool the bottom of the roster and bolster the organizational depth with key bench pieces and Triple-A players that, frankly, has been a weakness for the Braves in the past few years.

So far, the Braves have also added to the bullpen as well by signing the hard throwing righty Reynaldo Lopez, who struck out almost 30% of the batters he faced last season between the White Sox, Guardians, and Angels.

This could be a bigger addition to the Braves than it appears on the surface with Lopez potentially being able to serve as a back-end starter, if need be, but also be a high-leverage reliever.

I say all of this as what seems like one of the few Braves fans that are encouraged by these moves that “Headline Only Readers” are upset with.

I completely understand. Soroka, Wright, a couple former first round picks, and on the surface not getting much back, but when you dig deeper, it’s some crafty moves to get anything back for it, and oh by the way, I think we’re just getting started with the off season shuffle we’ll see out of the right field offices at Truist Park.

Not Just The Windmill At Third Base

By: Colin Lacy news services

This month news broke that beloved Atlanta Braves third base coach Ron Washington was getting the nod to take over as the new manager for the Los Angeles Angels.

This will be the second stint for Wash as a big-league manager after piloting the Texas Rangers from 2007-2014.

Ron Washington will be dearly missed in Atlanta after becoming an infectious personality around the clubhouse, while also being a gold mine of knowledge for infielders especially.

Washington has become a fan favorite around Braves Country because of the energy that David O’Brien of The Athletic described as “more energy at 71 than many 21-year-olds.”

Alex Anthopoulos, Braves GM, encapsulated the impact of Ron Washington on the Atlanta Organization by saying, “Presence, intellect, respect, work ethic, integrity.  Off-the-charts ability to lead. I mean, that guy walks in a room, it’s over.  He’s special. I’ve been in baseball since 2000. I’ve never been around someone like (Ron Washington).”

Ron Washington is a “baseball guy” through and through. A native of New Orleans, Washington was signed by Kansas City in 1970, and has been in professional baseball ever since.

He spent the next ten years primarily in the minor leagues for the Royals, Mets, and Dodgers organization. ‘Wash’ made his Major League debut in September of 1977 with the Dodgers as a September call-up but returned to the minors until 1981.

In 1981, Washington was on the active roster for the Minnesota Twins and would stay in the Bigs until 1986 scattered between the Twins, Orioles, Indians, and Astros. The end of his playing career came with his playing retirement in 1990 with the Oklahoma City Triple-A club.

After hanging up the glove (at least as a player), Washington set sails on his coaching career starting with the Mets organization for five years.

Washington made his Big-League debut as a coach in 1996 as the first base coach with the Oakland A’s where he would be until 2006 and return for the 2015 & 2016 season.

November 6th, 2006 will be a day that Ron Washington will always remember. It was the day the Texas Rangers announced they were bringing in Washington to manage the Rangers.  Washington spent 8 years in Arlington and led the Rangers to two World Series appearances in 2010 & 2011.

While in October of 2016, Ron Washington was a finalist for the Braves vacant managerial position (that would inevitably be filled by Brian Snitker), Snitker elected to bring Ron Washington on staff as 3rd base coach.  Since 2017, Washington was always around Truist park with the undeniable Wash Smile.

Washington’s pre-game routine with all the infielders, and even non-infielders, of throwing and hitting short hops to them blew up and became a must for all nationally televised game to show at some point.

Braves Country knows, and sometimes takes for granted, how underrated and top notch the coaching staff Brian Snitker has assembled over the years.

Ron Washington was a huge piece of that and will have some additional fall out I suspect. It has already been reported that Braves first base coach Eric Young Sr will be going with Wash to LA to join the Angels staff as their third base coach, and I wouldn’t be surprised if one or two others from the Braves staff joined as well.

Every offseason, each team has losses that fans will say “man that stinks” (sometimes a more colorful rendition of that), but not often is it a club’s third base coach.

Heck, many times when a coach leaves (outside of a manager or pitching coach), fans don’t realize it until opening day, and say “Hey who’s that new guy!”

Ron Washington is different. He was an incredible asset for the Braves and the Angles are getting a great baseball mind and great motivator. Grant McCauley, Braves beat reporter for 92.9 the Game, said on X what a lot of Braves fans are feeling. “It’s possible to be simultaneously thrilled for someone’s opportunity while being exceptionally sad to see them go.”

Power Surge

By: Robert Craft news services

I don’t know the journey the 2023 Braves will lead, but I now know the magnitude of their journey to this present moment.

They haven’t merely wrapped up the National League East. Their lineup is doing things baseball fans haven’t seen done in 50 years, 90 years, 100 years … or ever, for that matter, and that’s only now dawning on them.

There’s something funny about making history, you see. You don’t always recognize it when you’re in the middle of it, living and watching it, day in and day out.

There’s no perfect stat. There’s no perfect metric that reveals, unequivocally, the identity of the The Greatest Offense of All Time. So, if you’re even in the argument, alongside those ’27 Yankees, there’s no need to quibble about where to place the decimal points. We’re witnessing greatness, period.

Here’s an incredible difference between these Braves and those Yankees. Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig were twice as good at creating runs as the average hitter of that era, but they were part of a top-heavy lineup that didn’t have the depth of this Braves lineup, believe it or not the Braves are deeper and a higher utility team.

It doesn’t get much more old-school than home runs and stolen bases. And the triple digits in those categories are a reminder that the Braves can beat you one way on night one and a whole different way on night 2.

That 2019 Twins team that set the home run record the Braves are chasing, for most homers in a season (307). That team stole 28 bases all season. Ronald Acuna almost had that many himself by Memorial Day.

Even if they take their foot off the gas in the next few days, the Braves are almost a lock to lead the majors in homers by 50.  No team has even done that in 55 years.

Only two teams in history that stole 100 bases even reached 250 homers the same season: the 2019 Brewers  (250) and last year’s Yankees (254).

Hard to argue that this team isn’t special! The only two previous teams in history to bop 300 homers, the 2019 Twins and 2019 Yankees. They stole 83 bases combined. Acuña is on pace to steal 73 this year all by himself.

The Braves could have nine players with at least 20 homers! No team has ever done that.

The Braves could also have five players with at least 30 homers! Only the 2019 Twins have done that. And they just became the first team ever to have four men hit 35 or more.

They could lead the sport in slugging by 40 points! (They were at 43 through Sunday.) The only teams since 1900 to do that are the ’27 Yankees and 1953 Boys of Summer Dodgers.

I could spit out many more magic numbers for these Braves. But I’ve made my point. I never saw Ruth and Gehrig in 1927, but I’m watching Acuña and Olson here in 2023.

Now, there’s one more thing that needs to happen, one more thing they need to accomplish to make this season truly special, and historic.

The Braves just have to finish it. If October goes like the first six months of this season, they’ll be swirling around all these numbers for the rest of their lives.

If the Braves fail to win The World Series, they are just numbers that will be semi-forgotten.

It’s The Whole Team

By: Kipp Branch news services

MLB named starters for the All-Star Game yesterday based on the results of fan voting. The National League starters are:

Position Name Team
Catcher Sean Murphy Atlanta Braves
First base Freddie Freeman Los Angeles Dodgers
Second base Luis Arraez Miami Marlins
Third base Nolan Arenado St. Louis Cardinals
Shortstop Orlando Arcia Atlanta Braves
Outfield Ronald Acuña Jr. Atlanta Braves
Outfield Corbin Carroll Arizona Diamondbacks
Outfield Mookie Betts Los Angeles Dodgers
Designated hitter J.D. Martinez Los Angeles Dodgers


Let us look at the Atlanta Braves in the starting line-up.

Ronald Acuna Jr.: Acuna is having a monster year. An MVP type season. He is hitting .331 BA, 19 HR, 51 RBI, and 36 stolen bases as of this article.

Acuna is on pace for a 40/60 home run, stolen base season. That has never been done in baseball history.

Acuna is the best player in the game currently. The Braves will have to break the bank and restructure his current contract soon and make him the highest paid player in the game.

Sean Murphy: Another impressive signing by the Braves for 2023.

Murphy is hot currently hitting .375 over the past week. He has 13 homers and is batting .289 for the season currently. Murphy has earned the start in the mid-season classic.

Orlando Arcia: Dansby who? Arcia is batting .303 currently with 6 HR’s. Many thought Arcia would be an offensive liability for the Braves in 2023, but how wrong were we?

Arcia missed games with an injured wrist. How smart was Braves management in signing Arcia to a contract extension before the season began?

Potential Braves All-Stars: (NL Reserves will be named on July 2nd)

Ozzie Albies: Certainly, Albies will be named to the team. 18 HR’s makes him one of the best power hitting second basemen in MLB. He is charismatic and loved by the fans.

Albies should be an absolute selection. Ozzie has played eighty games so far this season and has remained healthy.

Matt Olson: Olson has 26 HR and 62 RBI’s. That ranks him 2nd and 3rd in the National League in those categories.

Yes, he has struck out 102 times so far this season, but he is a very productive hitter. Olson will be named an All-Star.

Austin Riley: Austin is a marquee player but could be on the outside looking in this year. He has a .265 batting average and only 14 home runs so far in 2023.

I look for him to get hot down the stretch, but name recognition alone should get him selected.

Bryce Elder: 6-1 with 2.44 ERA should get Elder selected.

Elder was not being counted on to contribute to the rotation going into 2023, but with injuries to Max Fried and Kyle Wright he had to step into the rotation and should be rewarded with an All-Star selection because he has earned it.

Spencer Strider: 9-2 with a 3.73 ERA with 162 strikeouts after the halfway point. Those are All-Star caliber numbers. Strider will be on the National League squad.

At 53-27 currently, the Braves have the second-best record in baseball and have the best record in the National League.

I do not know if the Braves will have eight players named to the NL All-Star roster, but they absolutely deserve it.