Braves: 4 bold predictions for the second half

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The Braves are a little over halfway through the season with the All-Star break looming. To this point, there has been absolutely nothing to complain about. The Braves own the best record in baseball, have a nine game lead in the NL East, and it seems like they are making history on a nightly basis. This might be the best team in franchise history, and I have some bold predictions for the second half of the season.

Braves break several home run records

The Braves are currently on pace to hit 300 homers, which would mash the franchise record of 249, set back in 2019. They will cruise past that, and I’m going to go out on a limb and say they break the major league record, which is currently owned by the 2019 Minnesota Twins, who hit 307 homers. However, what makes this even more impressive is these balls aren’t juiced like they were back in 2019. This Braves lineup is just that powerful, but I’m not stopping there.

I also believe the Braves will tie the MLB record for most players with 20+ homers. The 2019 Twins also own that record, with eight. Matt Olson, Ronald Acuña, and Ozzie Albies have already reached the feat. Marcell Ozuna, Austin Riley, Sean Murphy, and Eddie Rosario also should reach that number as long as they stay healthy. That means the Braves need one more.

Orlando Arcia isn’t going to get there, and Travis d’Arnaud isn’t in the lineup enough unless he goes crazy; however, Michael Harris II is getting hot, and I think he’ll reach 20 by the end of the season. 13 homers in the second half is more than attainable for Harris, who was injured for a significant portion of the first half and mired in a nasty slump.

Braves set the franchise record for wins in a season

I’m not even sure this take is considered bold, because the Braves are currently on pace to do it. I’m on record saying this is the best Braves team ever assembled. After sweeping the Marlins, they are 56-27. That puts them on pace to win 109-110 games, which would be several wins better than the 1998 Braves, who currently own the franchise record for the most wins in a single season at 106. This team is red-h0t, and they’ve done all of this without two of their best starters. They should only get better, and I like them to challenge the 110-win mark.

Bryce Elder wins the NL Cy Young

Since I might not have gone bold enough on the last take, I’m going to make up for it here. I don’t care if FanGraphs and Baseball Savant aren’t in love with Bryce Elder. They aren’t infallible metrics. Baseball is played on the field, and no starting pitcher has been better in the National League to this point in the season. He boasts a 2.44 ERA and leads the league in ERA+. I don’t see him slowing down, either. Elder pounds the strike zone and induces a ton of groundouts. That’s a recipe for success in an era where everyone is trying to blast home runs. In a typical year, I don’t think Elder would have a chance, but the star pitchers in the NL are struggling this season. As long as Elder maintains this kind of consistency, I think he has a real chance at winning the Cy Young.

Ronald Acuña reaches the 40/80 mark

Ronald Acuña has been a 40/40 threat ever since he stepped foot on a major-league diamond. However, the new rules have made him even more dangerous. He already has 39 steals through 83 games to go along with 21 homers, putting him on pace to hit over 40 bombs with more than 70 steals, but I’m going to take it a step further.

I predict Acuña will reach the 40 home run threshold and steal 80 bases. He’s slightly behind the pace in the stolen bases department, but he seems to be running even more frequently and with more success of late. Every time he reaches first base, he’s going, and sometimes, he even steals third. It’s been a thrill to watch, and something tells me 80 steals could be in the back of his mind. Acuña’s second half of the season will be must watch television for every baseball fan.

Photo: Gregory Fisher/Icon Sportswire

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