Braves biggest offseason questions have been answered early in 2024

MLB: MAR 30 Braves at Phillies

Coming into a highly anticipated Braves season, there were a handful of questions about a few key players, but through 10 games, they’ve all produced promising results.

Nobody is worried about Matt Olson, Austin Riley, Michael Harris, Ronald Acuna, Max Fried, and the other Braves superstars. It’s the supplemental players.

Orlando Arcia

I think Orlando Arcia was the biggest concern coming into the 2024 campaign. He was named an All-Star thanks to an outstanding first half of the season; however, the second half reared its ugly head.

Arcia regressed to the player he’s been for much of his career. For eight big league seasons, he’s accrued 4.4 WAR, owns a .679 OPS and 79 OPS+ but has performed better with the Braves, and it’s continued this season.

Arcia is slashing .385/.429/.513 with five doubles, good for a .941 OPS and 157 OPS+ through 10 games. Now, nobody expects him to continue to have an OPS 57% above league average, but the trends are encouraging.

Marcell Ozuna

In April 2023, Marcell Ozuna hit .085 with two extra-base hits, two RBIs and a .397 OPS in 18 games. Once the calendar turned May, Ozuna hit nearly .300  with 28 doubles, 38 home runs, 98 RBIs, and a .969 OPS in 126 games. On the season, the Big Bear hit a career-high 40 home runs. It was fair to wonder if the veteran could continue to be one of the most productive designated hitters in baseball.

Though 10 games, he has answered the bell. Ozuna is hitting .318 with five home runs, 13 RBIs and a 1.038 OPS. He’s tied with Mookie Betts for the most home runs in the National League. Mind you, the Dodgers have played four more games than the Braves. The Big Bear is here to stay.

Reynaldo Lopez

Lopez is a bit different than Ozuna and Arcia. The big question was whether he’d work out as a starter. His floor as a high-end reliever made the acquisition fairly safe with high upside. The former reliever is starting for the first time in three seasons, and he’s turned in two brilliant outings.

Last night, Lopez tossed six innings of scoreless ball against the Mets following his Braves debut against his former team in the White Sox, where he went six innings of one-run ball.

It’s still too soon to tell, especially for a guy who has concerns about his longevity as a starter, but early on, the Braves’ investment is paying dividends.

Jarred Kelenic

Perhaps nobody faced bigger questions than the former No. 6 overall pick. Jarred Kelenic was a part of the blockbuster trade that sent Edwin Diaz to New York in exchange for one of the Mets’ top prospects.

With the Mariners, Kelenic struggled mightily. In 2021, he hit just .181 with a .615 OPS in 93 games and followed it up with a .141 average and .534 OPS in 54 games the following season. Through 147 big league games,  Kelenic had just a .168 batting average with 21 homers and a .598 OPS, but the 2023 campaign was a bit of a breakout.

Kelenic began the season on fire, hitting .328 with seven homers in the first 25 games, good for an OPS north of 1.000, but a cold streak resulted in frustration, which ended with him breaking his foot on a cooler. Once he returned, he was never the same.

The Braves bought low in hopes of getting the most of a talented, yet underachieving ball player, and Atlanta has done what other clubs seemingly never can do. Kelenic is 12-for-26 (.462) with three RBIs in a Braves uniform. In Tuesday’s game against the Mets, he singled to continue his run of reaching base in every game this season.

Much like the rest of the guys in this piece, it’s still early, but the initial signs are encouraging.

Photographer: Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire

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