Braves players’ thoughts on MLB changes as Spring Training arrives

Daniel young Braves

Baseball will look much different in 2023 for several reasons. The league is experimenting with schedule changes. Each club will play 52 games against divisional opponents, 64 intraleague games, and 46 interleague games. For the first time ever, the Braves will play a series against each of the other 29 teams, which Austin Riley is excited for:

“Towards the later part of the season when you get in those dog days of summer, I think it’s going to more or less be like a refresher,” Riley said, via Kris Willis of Battery Power. “Seeing different faces. I know, I’m anxious just to go to different ballparks and different cities. It’ll be fun.”

For Braves Country, watching games could change as Bally Sports’ parent company files for bankruptcy, so that is something to keep an eye on. Moreover, the MLB implemented significant changes, including the size of bases, a pitch clock, and the shift ban.

The size of bases will increase the percentage of successful steals, which should benefit Ozzie Albies, Ronald Acuna Jr., Michael Harris II, and Vaughn Grissom. On the opposite end, Sean Murphy‘s acquisition becomes even more valuable, given his defensive prowess.

The shift ban may be the most impactful rule change; it has eliminated more than 2,000 hits and devalued rangy defenders. Albies is yet to benefit again. He posted four outs above average in 2022, an excellent mark in just 64 games. His defensive ability will be invaluable for the Braves, who are rolling with Vaughn Grissom as the team’s starting shortstop. It is the primary concern — not his offense — about him being an everyday shortstop for a team with championship aspirations.

Offensively, nobody could experience more positive regression from the shift ban than Matt Olson. His 47 hits lost to the shift since 2020 ranks 3rd in the league, which would have improved his average from .250 to .288. He and his teammates know he stands to benefit greatly.

“Well yeah, I mean, it’d be good to see some ground balls go through the four-hole again. I can’t remember the last time unless a guy was on first base. As far as approach, it’s not really going to change it. If I’m rolling over a ball, that’s normally a miss for me. I’m trying to stay through and drive something in the middle of the field, but it will be nice to get rewarded on a miss every once in a while,” Olson said, via Kris Willis of Battery Power.

“I think for the lefties, I think it’s gonna help a lot,” Austin Riley said, via Kris Willis of Battery Power. “I know, I’m imagining Olson’s going to benefit from it a lot. I remember quite often some hits right up the middle where you smoke a ball and there’s a guy standing there.”

Photographer: Larry Radloff/Icon Sportswire

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