Braves: The heart of 2020’s lineup is raking at a historic pace

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Think about how long the Braves’ franchise has been around and the type of hitters that have come through the organization. Players like Chipper and Andruw Jones, Gary Sheffield… Hank Aaron, for goodness sake! When it comes to guys known for wielding some of the best bats not only of their time but of all-time, the Braves have rostered plenty. 

Now think about this season’s lineup and the type of damage the hitters are doing so far in 2020, specifically the first six or seven guys in the lineup:

  1. Ronald Acuna Jr — 1.012 OPS, 9 HR, 15 RBI
  2. Dansby Swanson — .833 OPS, 6 HR, 24 RBI
  3. Freddie Freeman — 1.022 OPS, 7 HR, 32 RBI
  4. Marcell Ozuna — 1.026 OPS, 13 HR, 36 RBI
  5. Travis d’Arnaud — .905 OPS, 6 HR, 22 RBI
  6. Austin Riley — .739 OPS, 7 HR, 22 RBI
  7. Adam Duvall — .848 OPS, 10 HR, 20 RBI

*2020 stats were compiled unfortunately before Wednesday’s 29-run performance vs. Marlins

 

Depending on who’s hitting sixth or seventh (both Riley and Duvall have hit at each spot at least ten times this season), the Braves currently have the luxury of sending six-straight batters to the plate that are carrying at least an .800 OPS, which explains how the team ranks second in the majors in runs overall.

Because of that, MLB.com’s Thomas Harrigan just recently profiled the Braves’ offense, naming Acuna, Freeman, and Ozuna, the top-hitting trio in baseball, considering they’re the only trio currently sporting a 1.000+ OPS. In fact, all three are ranked within the game’s top-13 in xwOBA, with Freeman’s .443 leading the pack and ranking seventh-best in the league — assuring us that their success has not been a result of simple luck. 

But as we witnessed during Wednesday night’s thrashing of the Marlins (in which the Braves offense scored a NL-record 29 runs), it’s not just Acuna, Freeman and Ozuna who are producing at an elite level at the plate. 

 

Batters 3-6 Have Never Been Better

Over at Baseball-Reference, using the Team Split Finder, I looked at all seasons (1901-present) by Braves’ hitters who batted nos. 3-6, listed by each season and sorted by OPS (the tool, unfortunately, won’t allow you to use any combination of batting orders). Low and behold, the 2020 group of 3 thru 6 hitters currently sports the highest OPS in Braves franchise history, at .910 (one point higher than 1998’s mark, featuring Chipper, Andres Galarraga, Ryan Klesko, and Javy Lopez). And considering the Braves as a whole slugged seven more homers in Wednesday’s win, that .910 OPS will no doubt grow once the site’s updated. 

Freeman batting third, Ozuna fourth, d’Arnaud fifth, and Riley or Duvall rotating at sixth; this is easily baseball’s most dangerous group of 3 thru 6 hitters, pacing the Red Sox by a whopping 55 points in OPS.

Braves Batters 3-6 MLB Ranks (2020)

  • .910 OPS — 1st
  • .288 AVG — t-1st
  • 37 HR — 3rd
  • 136 RBI — 1st
  • 47 doubles — 2nd
  • 345 total bases — 1st
  • 103 runs — 3rd
  • 183 hits — 5th

 

And that’s even without Ozzie Albies playing much of a part as he’s only been in the no. 2 hole nine times so far this season (of course, Swanson has been a reliable replacement at that spot, starting there in 20 games).

It’s the perfect time for all of this production out of the lineup. The Braves’ starting rotation isn’t doing the team any favors by carrying the third-highest ERA (5.62) in the majors, and once again, starter Tommy Milone struggled last night, allowing eight runs in 3.1 innings on Wednesday. 

Obviously, if the starting staff can’t keep the team in the game, the lineup will have to continue to mash to keep up. Although because so much pressure has been on the offense lately, most of the lineup is performing at their best. Just imagine how great this team could be if it can ever figure out how to pitch consistently. 

 

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