The Athletic recently released their weekly MLB power rankings. The Braves landed in the third spot after an impressive week; however, what I always appreciate about the Athletic’s power rankings is they always discuss a topic beyond just the ranking. This week, they highlighted potential first-time All-Stars for all 30 teams, and they believe the Braves could have as many as four.
Despite Sunday’s result, the Braves seem to have three slam-dunk selections for their first All-Star Game. Sean Murphy, batting .287/.388/.548 with 12 homers, is third in fWAR among NL position players, behind only Ronald Acuña Jr. and Freddie Freeman. Spencer Strider leads the league in strikeout rate (14.78 per nine innings), though he has a 3.79 ERA bloated by a bad start Thursday. Then there’s Bryce Elder. He struggled against the Mets and Nationals this week, but his 2.69 ERA still ranks third among qualified NL starters. Beyond those three, Orlando Arcia is putting together a career year, with superb offensive and defensive numbers, and we’ll have to see if his time on the injured list will cost him in the competition for NL shortstop spots.
I would like to say at least three of those guys are slam-dunks, but at this point, I only see Sean Murphy as a lock. He’s been the best catcher in baseball this season and won’t have to do much to secure his first All-Star appearance. I could see the other three candidates all making it or all missing it, depending on their performances the rest of the way.
Spencer Strider has been one of the most dominant pitchers in baseball this season, but his last time out was very shaky. His velocity was way down, and he gave up eight earned runs to the Mets over just four innings. Strider is still deserving of a spot, but he likely will have to string together a couple of good outings to end the first half of the season to make sure he’s included.
Elder is another member of the rotation that probably would be featured in the All-Star Game if it took place tomorrow. Even after a couple of underwhelming starts, he still owns a minuscule 2.69 ERA to go along with a 161 ERA+. That’s All-Star caliber, but it could change if he doesn’t pitch a little better than he has over his last two starts to end the first half of the season.
Orlando Arcia currently leads the fan vote for shortstops in the National League. He’s the only other name on this list that can be voted in, so Braves fans can ensure that he makes it by continuing to vote for him over the next few weeks. However, even if he doesn’t win the fan vote, he probably should find his way in. On a per game basis, he’s been the best shortstop in the National League. The only thing that has really stopped him this season is a 20 game absence after suffering a micro-fracture in his wrist.
Another name The Athletic didn’t mention in their piece that also receives consideration is Jesse Chavez. He’s been one of the best relievers in baseball, posting a 1.55 ERA, 1.000 WHIP, and 11.2 K/9. It doesn’t matter that he’s nearly 40-years-old and doesn’t feature the flashiest repertoire. Chavez has consistently been called upon when the Braves have needed him most and has come through in a big way. He deserves to make the first All-Star Game of his 16-year career.
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