Braves only team to earn A+ in ESPN first-half grades

Ronald Acuña

As the MLB All-Star festivities wrap up, the Braves are preparing for a series with the White Sox. It’s the midseason point in the season, and there hasn’t been a more dominant team than your Atlanta Braves.

The offense is breaking league and franchise records nearly every game. Ronald Acuna Jr. is doing things the sport has never seen, and the pitching staff has quietly put together one of the best first halves of any in baseball. Still, the club isn’t even at full strength yet.

So it’s no surprise that David Schoenfield of ESPN (subscription required) gave the Braves the only A+ of his first-half grades. Giving them anything else would be blatant bias or incompetence. His question for the Braves: “Is Acuna having the best power/speed season of all time?”

The Braves’ record speaks for itself: They’re on pace for 109 wins; only last year’s Dodgers, with 111 wins, have won more games since the National League went to a 162-game schedule in 1962. They’ve done it with prodigious power up and down the lineup, but let’s focus on Acuna, the NL’s first-half MVP after hitting .331/.408/.582 with a ridiculous 79 runs scored in 89 games (he hasn’t missed a game).

Years ago, Bill James created a fun formula he called the power/speed number, which is simply the harmonic mean between a player’s home runs and stolen bases. The highest single-season number belongs to Alex Rodriguez in 1998 at 43.9, when he hit 42 home runs and stole 46 bases for the Mariners. Acuna has 21 home runs and 41 steals, putting him on pace for 38 home runs and 75 stolen bases, which would give him a power/speed number of a staggering 50.2.

Not only does RAJ have a chance to join the exclusive 40/40 club, but he could also establish a few new records of his own. Nobody has reached 30/60, but that’s a conservative mark. He could go on a tear and easily eclipse 40/70. We are witnessing history. It’s the best player on the best team. Rarely does the best regular-season team win the World Series, but it’s impossible to pick anyone other than the Braves right now. Health and playing their best ball in September and October is the only concern.

Rich von Biberstein/Icon Sportswire


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