3 Keys to the Braves being a better team in 2023

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Baseball is unlike any sport. The key to winning multiple World Series is giving your team a chance year after year. The best team doesn’t always raise the trophy at the end. It’s about finding a way into the dance and getting hot at the right time. The Braves in 2022 were a significantly better team all-around than in 2021, but it was the 2021 group that was scorching hot in October, which is why they ended up winning their first World Series since 1995. It will be difficult for the Braves to be better than the squad they had last year that won 101 games, especially after losing Dansby Swanson. However, I do see a path for that happening if these three things occur.

Resurgent Years From The Outfield

Michael Harris II came up last year and carried this unit last year. He was arguably the best player on the team, and there’s nothing to suggest he won’t produce similarly in 2023. There are no weaknesses in his game, but the Braves outfield as a whole was underwhelming last season.

Ronald Acuña Jr. didn’t look like the same player following his ACL injury. He can be miles better in 2023 than he was in 2022, and I expect him to become an MVP candidate again as he gets further and further away from the injury. That will be a considerable boost, but left field was also a black hole for the team last season.

Eddie Rosario might have been the worst starter at any position in 2022, and a lot of that had to do with vision issues that cost him a couple of months. Before undergoing surgery in late April, he was hitting an abysmal .068 with just one extra-base hit in 15 games. Unfortunately, Rosario wasn’t too much better when he returned, but it’s difficult to gauge how much his vision was a factor post-surgery. Assuming he’s back to 100%, he could be a revelation for the team in 2023.

As terrible as Rosario performed, however, Marcell Ozuna was equally as unproductive. I’ve given up on him ever being decent in the field, but he’s been a dangerous hitter his entire career. If he can return to form, the Braves will be much better in left field and at DH next season, which should lead to several more wins.

Young Stars Stepping Up

The Braves are relying a ton on their youth going into 2023, a strategy that has worked well for them in recent years, but there’s no guarantee that all of these players will live up to expectations this upcoming season. Michael Harris II and Spencer Strider performed like All-Stars in 2022; that must continue if they expect to win the division again this year.

On top of that, Vaughn Grissom is set to take over for Dansby Swanson. The Braves don’t need Grissom to perform like an All-Star, but at the very least, he needs to take a stranglehold of the role and prove he’s ready to be an everyday shortstop. If the Braves end up relying on Orlando Arcia as their starting shortstop, it’s going to be tough for them to eclipse the 100-win mark.

Sean Murphy To Come As Advertised

Baseball isn’t all analytics, but they do a fantastic job of showing how teams can improve on a year-to-year basis. Catcher was not a weak spot for the team in 2022. In fact, the Braves had arguably the best duo at the position of any team, but that doesn’t mean they can’t be even better in 2023.

Sean Murphy has blossomed into one of the best catchers in the league. Some believe he’s the second-best at his position behind JT Realmuto. While Contreras was an exciting young player, Murphy is even better. If Murphy performs similarly to the way he did last year with the Athletics, the Braves should produce more WAR at the position than any other team in the majors. That won’t be easy, but Alex Anthopoulos made this blockbuster trade for a reason. They believe Murphy will be a tremendous upgrade over Contreras.

Photographer: Joe Robbins/Icon Sportswire

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