Jim Bowden of The Athletic recently came up with 25 predictions for the 2023 season, and there were several very interesting ones, including a couple that involved the Braves.
The predictions for the Braves weren’t overly bold. The first has Atlanta winning their sixth consecutive NL East title, joining the Padres and Cardinals as division winners.
The NL division winners will be the Braves, Cardinals and Padres. The three wild-card berths will go to the Phillies, Mets and Dodgers, leaving the Brewers, Cubs, Marlins, Giants and Diamondbacks on the outside looking in.
Unfortunately, Bowden doesn’t have the Braves winning the World Series or making it out of the National League. He predicts the Padres will come out of the NL and win their first World Series over the Toronto Blue Jays.
Bowden does have one particular Braves player taking home some hardware, however. Like so many others, he predicts Ronald Acuña will be all the way back in 2023, winning his first ever NL MVP award at 25-years-old.
Ronald Acuña Jr. and Shohei Ohtani are named MVPs of their respective leagues. Acuña, who’s fully healthy for the first time since his 2021 ACL surgery, leads the Braves to yet another division title in the stacked NL East. Oh, and Ohtani not only wins his second MVP award; this one will be the start of three consecutive MVP honors.
Acuña is deserving of all the hype. Before his devastating ACL injury in 2021, he was far and away the best player in the National League, and he might have been the best player in all of baseball.
2022 was a weird year for Acuña and the worst of his already illustrious career. The surgically repaired knee obviously bothered him, and he admitted to as much several times throughout the season. However, everything looks much closer to normal after a full and healthy offseason. If Acuña is indeed all the way back, nobody has a better chance to win the MVP in the National League. With that being said, he’s not the only Braves player that could be in the conversation.
Austin Riley has finished within the top seven of the MVP race in each of the last two seasons. Nobody has been hotter during Spring Training than Matt Olson, and he stands to benefit a ton from the shift ban moving forward. I also like Michael Harris as a dark horse candidate. He’s already shown glimpses of his star power. If he can build off of his rookie season and avoid regression, Harris has a chance to lead all NL players in WAR because of his ability in all facets of the game.
Photographer: Rich von Biberstein/Icon Sportswire