MLB All-Star voting has just kicked off, and the Braves are primed to send a handful of players to Seattle’s T-Mobile Park.
Atlanta’s roster features elite talent at a lot of positions, and several are challenging for the best player at their respective position. Ronald Acuna Jr. is the MVP frontrunner and is playing the best baseball of his young career. Sean Murphy is proving to be a home run offseason acquisition; Matt Olson is quietly putting together an All-Star caliber campaign, and Ozzie Albies is back to playing like one of the best second basemen in baseball.
That doesn’t even mention the elite arms of the rotation. Spencer Strider is the most talented pitcher in the league, posting a ridiculous 113 strikeouts across just 69.2 innings. While Bryce Elder‘s 1.92 ERA leads all of baseball. It’s a talent-rich club and is well-represented in Jim Bowden’s early All-Star team:
Matt Olson, Braves (backup) — Olson has reached base at a .361 clip, homered 17 times and driven in 43 runs, helping the Braves stay in first place. He edges out Paul Goldschmidt, the reigning NL MVP, for this spot by a gnat’s eyelash.
Austin Riley, Braves (starter) — Riley is off to a slow start this season, but so is every other top third baseman in the league. He leads all NL third basemen in hits (60) and plays Gold Glove Award caliber defense.
Ronald Acuña Jr., Braves (starter) — Acuña is the NL MVP through the first two-plus months of the season. He’s slashed .331/.407/.564 with 17 doubles, 12 home runs, 32 RBIs and 26 stolen bases in 31 attempts. He should end up with more All-Star votes than any other NL player.
Sean Murphy, Braves (starter) — Murphy has been the best all-around catcher in the NL this season. He leads NL catchers with 11 home runs and 38 RBIs and has posted a .937 OPS. He ranks in the 93rd percentile in the majors in framing and in the 95th percentile in pop time.
Spencer Strider, Braves (starter) — Strider is the frontrunner for this year’s NL Cy Young Award. He leads all major-league pitchers with 113 strikeouts (in just 69 2/3 innings) and has logged a 2.97 ERA.
Bryce Elder, Braves — Elder has been the NL’s best rookie pitcher. He leads the league with a 1.92 ERA in 11 starts.
That’s six Braves making the list, which doesn’t include Ozzie Albies, who just missed out. The fun-loving star is having a resurgent 2023 campaign after an injury-riddled 2022 season prompted some to forget he’s one of the best in the game. Albies is slashing .257/.303/.473 with 12 home runs, good for a .777 OPS. It wouldn’t surprise me if he garners his third All-Star bid, especially given how rabid Braves fans can be when it comes to All-Star voting.
Austin Riley‘s place is certainly up for grabs, but thanks to slow starts from the other notable third basemen, he has a chance to edge them out if he continues to heat up in the Summer months. However, the rest would have to fall off completely to not earn All-Star honors.
Acuna, Murphy, and Strider are locks. Elder is performing as well as any but could be hurt by his lack of notoriety among MLB fans, and Matt Olson is battling the reigning MVP in Paul Goldschmidt, as well as Freddie Freeman. It will be no easy task to hold them off.
Regardless, the Braves will once again feature a handful of players at the All-Star game.
Photographer: Keith Gillett/Icon Sportswire