Braves: ESPN predicts their All-Stars for the NL

MLB: MAY 19 Mariners at Braves

We are a little over a month away from the All-Star Game in Seattle on July 11th, and some candidates in each league are starting to become more clear, while other positional battles are wide open. Here are the Braves that the guys over at ESPN currently have making the NL All-Star team.

C: Sean Murphy, Atlanta Braves

Best offseason move? Yeah, best offseason move. I suspect if the MVP vote were held today that teammate Ronald Acuña Jr. would win, but Murphy might finish second.

I thought the Sean Murphy trade would be an upgrade over William Contreras, but Wild Bill was an All-Star in his own right last season. How much better could Murphy be? The answer? A helluva lot. Murphy has been the best defensive catcher in baseball, which was expected. Where he has exceeded expectations is with the stick. Murphy currently sports a .288 batting average, 11 homers, .934 OPS, and 153 wRC+. Combined with his defense, he’s been worth 2.8 fWAR, by far the best of any catcher.

OF: Ronald Acuña Jr., Atlanta Braves

He has certainly been the most electrifying player so far with his speed-power combo. It’s not difficult to figure out — aside from his knee being healthy — why he has taken his game to a new level. His career strikeout rate entering 2023 was 25%; this season, it’s a shade under 14%, an incredible drop from his previous norms.

There hasn’t been a better player in the game so far this season than Ronald Acuña Jr. He’s currently hitting a hair under .330, on pace for over 30 homers and nearly 70 stolen bases. Acuña is the frontrunner for the NL MVP, and he will likely end up with the most All-Star votes of any player.

P: Spencer Strider, Atlanta Braves

Strider has been touched up in a couple outings of late, but his strikeout rate of 40.6% (14.6 K’s per nine) would rank as the best ever over a full season.

Strider has been the most dominant pitcher in baseball this season, and if he ends the first half strong, there’s a good chance he’s the starter for the NL. I still think he ends up running away with the Cy Young in the National League.

P: Bryce Elder, Atlanta Braves

Elder began the season in the minors and while there’s nothing in his numbers that suggest he can keep this going, a 1.97 ERA is a 1.97 ERA.

Perhaps the most surprising name on this list, Bryce Elder is absolutely deserving of an All-Star bid. His ERA is a tad higher after last night’s start versus the Mets, but he actually pitched pretty well. He just gave up two meatballs that were not missed. The statement made above about him irks me more than it should. Will Elder finish the season with a 2.00 ERA? Probably not, because nobody does. However, he’s still very good. Some of these nerds need to stop looking at Baseball Savant and start watching more baseball.

Others to consider

Ozzie Albies 

Albies is one of the streakiest hitters in the game, and that’s been on display in 2023. However, when you look up, he always seems to have 30 homers and an .800 OPS at the end of the season while playing good defense at second. Albies currently has 13 homers through 60 games, and if he gets hot before the All-Star break, it’s going to be difficult to keep him off the roster.

Austin Riley

Third base is a loaded position group full of MVP candidates, which is why Austin Riley has had a difficult time making the All-Star Game. But what’s odd about this year is all of the stars are struggling. Riley’s actually performed decently, and he’s beginning to get hot. If that continues, he very well could make his second All-Star appearance in a row.

Matt Olson

First base is another unfairly loaded position group that will make it tough for Matt Olson to get the nod. Freddie Freeman will be a shoo-in, and so will Paul Goldschmidt. So it will likely come down to Olson and Pete Alonso for the final spot. Olson has had a nice season, but Alonso is pretty clearly winning that battle so far.

Photo: David J. Griffin/Icon Sportswire

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