The start to the second half of the season for the Braves did not go as planned. They lost five of their first six games coming out of the break behind a struggling offense that scored more than three runs just once over that span. The good news, a seven-game stretch filled with the lowly Marlins and Mets awaited them. And so far, Atlanta has been able to capitalize.
After avoiding a four-game sweep in the series finale with the Dodgers, the Braves swept the Marlins in an abbreviated two-game series due to inclement weather and took the series opener at Citi Field. With three more games left against the Mets, who the Braves are 10-3 against this season, Atlanta has the perfect opportunity to regain sole possession of first place.
Ever since moving into the leadoff spot after the All-Star break, Ronald Acuna Jr. has been raking. He is hitting .357 with four home runs and eight RBIs to go along with four steals. There is no doubt he is setting a different tone with his energy and speed at the top of the lineup. We previously outlined players who could be second-half All-Stars, and Acuna made the list. Injuries may have slowed down the rookie in the first half of the season, but he looks to be on the verge of making a late case for the NL Rookie of the Year. His play could put this team over the top in terms of winning the NL East.
Despite losing his role as the leadoff man to Acuna, Inciarte has not let it affect his play. He has the highest batting average on the team since the All-Star break at .359 after slumping in the season’s first half. This is not something that should come as a surprise, though. In our article, ‘Three Reasons the Braves offense could be better in the second half’, Ender Inciarte‘s splits pre and post All-Star break was reason numero uno. For his career, he is a .264 hitter in the first half compared to .318 in the second half. He appears to be sticking to those trends with his hot start after batting a mere .241 prior to the break.