Braves: Who’s Hot, Who’s Not: Week 1

Braves Olson

Week 1 of the six-month season is in the books, and the Braves find themselves in a familiar position — one game under .500 through seven games. If it feels like the Braves always begin the early months of Spring sluggishly, it’s because they do. This is the third time in three years that they’ve started the season 3-4.

So if you’re some nutcase out there that feels the slightest bit of anxiousness, take a deep breath. This team is going to be more than fine. There was a lot to like about the opening week of 2022, and there are also a few things that need to get much better for the Braves to reach their ultimate goal.

Who’s Hot

Matt Olson

I knew Matt Olson was a fantastic player, but I wondered if he would feel a little bit of the pressure early on in his Braves career. Not only is he filling the shoes of Freddie Freeman, who was the face of the franchise for a decade, but he’s also a hometown kid. That’s the perfect recipe for the jitters. But if Olson was feeling them, he didn’t show it. The guy looked as poised as anyone at the plate, getting on base 17 (9 hits, 8 walks) times in his first week as a Brave.

Travis d’Arnaud

Catcher was the Braves’ weakest link last season. Travis d’Arnaud missed most of the year with a torn ligament in his thumb, and his backups were… not good, to say the least. Even when d’Arnaud was healthy, he wasn’t at his best, but he’s begun 2022 much like he did 2020 — smacking balls all over the yard. In four games, d’Arnaud is hitting .353 with a homer and four RBIs.

Marcell Ozuna

Another guy looking to bounce back from a forgetful 2021, Ozuna is hitting everything hard through the first week of the season, resulting in a .321 average with a couple of home runs.

Austin Riley

I was very confident Austin Riley would again produce at an MVP level this season, but it was fair for some people to wonder if he would regress a bit after his breakout in 2021. That’s how it often works in baseball, but Austin Riley is quickly proving he’s the furthest thing from normal. He’s got a couple of homers and is rocking a 1.151 OPS heading into the second week of the season, which is terrific, but I’ve been most impressed with his approach at the plate. That’s what led to his breakout campaign last season, and it looks like it’s gotten even better — a scary thought for opposing pitchers.

Kyle Wright

The Braves rotation was shaky to begin the season, but not because of Kyle Wright. The young man continues to build off the momentum he had to end 2021, tossing six scoreless innings in his first start. I pegged Wright as the team’s breakout star coming into the season, and even though it’s just one outing, I feel extra confident in my selection now.

Who’s Not

Eddie Rosario

Braves fans are only familiar with red-hot Eddie Rosario. Ever since the Braves traded for him last season, all he’s done is rake. Well, that’s not sustainable over the course of a 162-game season. Slumps are inevitable, and we are witnessing one now with Rosario, who only has one hit in his first 20 at-bats.

Dansby Swanson

People who are surprised by Dansby Swanson slumping must not have watched the last five seasons. This is who he is. One month Swanson looks like he can’t hit water in the ocean; the next, he’s smacking balls five inches outside the plate over the right field wall. He’s one of the streakiest players I’ve ever seen, and he’ll be just fine. Right now, Swanson’s just in one of those funks, already striking out 13 times in 28 plate appearances.

Huascar Ynoa 

I’m interested to see how the Braves continue with Ynoa because he looked downright awful in his first start. The numbers don’t matter to me, but the eye test does, and he failed abysmally. I could see a move to the bullpen or a AAA stint in his near future if things don’t change significantly.

Ian Anderson

Anderson looked equally as bad as Ynoa, but he’s already proven himself to be rock solid. The control has to improve if he ever wants to be a top of the rotation option, but that may just never be who he is.

Photo: Rich von Biberstein/Icon Sportswire



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