Braves place 9 on MLB Network’s Top 100 players, including No. 1

MLB: SEP 27 Cubs at Braves

The Braves are coming off a season where they set offensive record after offensive record, along with a couple of new pitching marks thanks to flamethrower Spencer Strider. Ronald Acuna Jr. also became the first player to eclipse 40 home runs and 50, 60, and 70 stolen bases en route to an MVP award.

It was an absolutely loaded team from top to bottom that featured the home run leader in Matt Olson, seven All-Stars, and the NL MVP. The offense was historic, tying the all-time home run record, which the Twins set in the juiced ball era, so much like Hank Aaron, the 2023 Atlanta Braves are the real home run kings. They also became the first offense to average a .500+ slugging percentage.

So, it’s no surprise the Braves featured nine players on MLB Network’s Top 100 players list, including the No. 1 spot.

1) Ronald Acuña Jr., RF, Braves (2023 rank: 25)

In 2022, Acuña had a .764 OPS with 15 home runs and 29 steals in 119 games. He got a late start, joining the Braves at the end of April after recovering from surgery to repair a torn right ACL. What would we see in ’23?

History. Any concern over Acuña’s right knee evaporated when he put together a season for the ages, becoming the first player in AL/NL history to hit 40 or more homers (41) and steal 70 or more bases (73) in the same season. He was named NL MVP in a unanimous vote, and with his power-speed combo, he’s the most electric player in the game today.

13. Matt Olson, 1B, Braves (2023 rank: 43)

15. Austin Riley, 3B, Braves (2023 rank: 20)

17. Spencer Strider, SP, Braves (2023 rank: 65)

47. Sean Murphy, C, Braves (2023 rank: 84)

48. Max Fried, SP, Braves (2023 rank: 36)

50. Michael Harris II, CF, Braves (2023 rank: 53)

66. Ozzie Albies, 2B, Braves (2023 rank: no rank)

83. Marcell Ozuna, DH/OF, Braves (2023 rank: no rank)

Following a somewhat disappointing debut season in 2022, if an .802 OPS could even be considered disappointing, Matt Olson exploded in 2023, hitting a league-leading 54 home runs, good for a .993 OPS.

Austin Riley has firmly put himself into the conversation for the most elite players in the game and is quietly approaching top 10 status. Nobody should be surprised when he eventually wins his first MVP as his defense continues to improve.

Everyone knows how dominant Spencer Strider can be, but he did experience some troubles at times in 2023. Still, the hard-throwing righty is primed to compete for Cy Young after Cy Young and possesses the stuff to win several.

Sean Murphy had a lackluster second half of the season but was sneakily in the MVP discussion during the first half. To say the Braves are happy with the trade would be an understatement.

Fried played less than half of a season and still came in ranked as a top 50 player, which speaks to the respect he carries in this league. Entering the final year of his contract, Fried has the potential to win a Cy Young as well as spearhead the Braves rotation in the postseason.

Michael Harris struggled to begin the season as he dealt with injuries, but when he came back, the Stockbridge native was as valuable as any outfielder in baseball. If the All-Star game was a cumulative vote instead of just part of the season, Michael Harris would’ve earned his first bid.

Somehow, Ozzie Albies was left off MLB Network’s top 10 second basemen list but made the top 100? Well, that’s because he’s easily a top 5 second baseman and could even be considered a top 3, given his unique combination of power at the position and consistency when healthy.

Last but certainly not least, the Big Bear was hitting below .070 for the first month of the season before exploding. Bryce Harper won the DH’s Silver Slugger, but he didn’t have a better season than Marcell Ozuna did with the stick.

What’s even crazier is the Braves could feature a couple more names on this list next year, like Chris Sale and Jarred Kelenic, depending on how their 2024 campaigns go. It’s an embarrassment of riches in Atlanta.

Photographer: Rich von Biberstein/Icon Sportswire


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