The first half of the season has come to an end, and the Braves lead baseball in a number of categories, both individually and as a team. In this series, I’ll be grading each player based on their performance to this point, beginning with the outfield.
There’s nothing I can say about Acuna’s first half that hasn’t already been said. He’s made MLB history on a number of occasions and is tracking towards the first 40+ homer and 70+ steal season ever. Acuna leads all National League players in WAR, OPS, and steals. He’s the engine of a Ferrari; the guy who gets the whole thing started. Anything other than an A+ would be blasphemous.
In the first half, we saw Harris struggle for the first time in his major-league career. Injuries played a significant role in those early season woes, but he has bounced back tremendously over the last six weeks. Harris looks like an All-Star caliber piece, and I expect him to be one of the most valuable outfielders in the National League the rest of the way. Still, he gets docked a bit for a brutal first two months.
Rosario’s first month was one to forget, and like most fans, I began to wonder if he would ever look like the hero he was when the Braves traded for him back in 2021. But since April 24th, he’s smacked 13 homers and recorded an .847 OPS, bumping up his OPS on the season to .784. That will play all day.
Like Rosario, Ozuna began the season about as poorly as possible, but he’s been an All-Star caliber designated hitter since the calendar flipped to May. In his last 55 games, The Big Bear is hitting a hair below .300 with a .917 OPS and 15 long balls.
Pillar wasn’t even a lock to make the Opening Day roster, but he’s been critical to the Braves success, especially when the likes of Rosario and Ozuna were struggling. He plays above average defense in the outfield and owns a 102 OPS+ (2% above league average) on the season. For a reserve player, the Braves couldn’t ask for much more out of him.
Hilliard hasn’t had an at-bat since May 23rd, and I’m not expecting that to change in the second half unless injuries arise. However, he’s a valuable defensive replacement that brings speed to the basepaths. There’s value in that alone, and Hilliard also had some critical moments with the stick for the Braves earlier in the season. For a reserve player that was acquired for nothing in return, he’s been a quality addition to the roster so far this season.
Photo: Photographer: Gregory Fisher/Icon Sportswire