Analyzing the Atlanta Braves offensive slump and hopes for a comeback

Braves Austin Riley

It’s been painful to watch a talented Atlanta Braves lineup flounder for as long as they have, particularly against sub-.500 teams. A recent series against the Nationals, where the Braves lost 3 of 4 games and were outscored 20 to 7, highlights the depth of their struggles. This performance is a stark contrast to last year when the Braves led the league in home runs, slugging percentage, and runs per game.

This downturn is perplexing for coaches, players, and fans alike. To understand the decline, we can examine their On-base Plus Slugging (OPS) and other key metrics.

Runs per Game: In 2023, the Braves averaged a league-leading 5.75 runs per game. This year, however, they are averaging just 4.46 runs per game—a significant drop of 1.29 runs. Notably, their home and away splits have also reversed. Last year, they averaged 5.81 runs per game at home and 4.83 on the road. This year, they’re scoring 4.14 runs per game at home and 4.81 on the road. Historically, from 2021 to 2022, the Braves have averaged around 4.75 runs per game on the road and approximately 4.90 runs per game at home.

The current underperformance at home is particularly concerning and could be influenced by factors such as the season’s early conditions. Regardless, the numbers indicate a significant drop in home game production.

OPS Performance: Designated hitter Marcell Ozuna is having a career year with an OPS of .997, well above his career average of .803. But he’s about the only player pulling his weight, especially at the top of the lineup. Matt Olson, who boasts a career OPS of .866, currently sports an OPS of .748, which is 40 points lower than the worst season of his career back in 2018 with the Oakland Athletics. Riley, who historically starts slow, has a career OPS of .837 but is also performing below expectations this season. His consistent performance over the past three years suggests that his OPS should trend upwards soon.

The team as a whole has an OPS of .723 this year, compared to .845 last year—a difference of .122. Excluding the exceptional 2023 season and the shortened 2020 season, the Braves have had an average OPS of .768 since 2019, indicating that their current performance is below their historical norm.

The Braves’ offense is significantly underperforming, particularly at home. However, the historical data suggests that key players like Olson and Riley are likely to improve their performance as the season progresses. While the current numbers are concerning, there is reason to believe the Braves will rebound, especially with projections still showing a tight race in the NL East.

Photo: Rich von Biberstein/Icon Sportswire

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