As Austin Riley continued to struggle, more and more Braves fans began to look for reasons why. Eventually, a few things came to light. For one, the Braves third baseman is typically a slow starter to begin with. In his last three full seasons, he has started off April and May games with these splits
2021: .305, 10 HR, 22 RBIs
2022: .256, 12 HR, 25 RBIs
2023: .246, 7 HR, 20 RBIs
Aside from a higher average to start 2021, Riley is pretty consistent with how he starts the year out. Some power surges, but the beginning of the year usually goes towards eliminating holes in his swing, and in the summer, he turns it on.
Another thing that has become clear for Riley is that he is a cleanup hitter. His career slashing line in the 3 hole is .237/.325/.426. In the cleanup spot, Riley is much more comfortable, with a line of .313/.361/.581. After seeing the slump hit its peak in Toronto, Snit decided to make the change, and it already seems to be a net positive. In four games at the cleanup spot, Riley has 2 multi-hit games, a home run, and multiple games with a run driven in, including a clutch double into the gap on Wednesday to tie the game late against Texas.
As a bonus, in the three hole, Ozzie Albies has hit safely in each of these last four games. When Snit shows a willingness to make changes, good things seem to happen, and this is just another correct button pushed.
The lineup is starting to feel more like the one that won a World series, featuring a powerful left handed hitting first baseman in the two hole, with Ozzie Albies and Austin Riley up after him. It also helps to have Ronald Acuña Jr. at the top. As great as Jorge Soler and Eddie Rosario were back in 2021, nobody can replicate what Acuña is bringing to the table.
Photographer: Jeff Robinson/Icon Sportswire
You must log in to post a comment.