For the second straight year, a team meeting in the desert has propelled the Braves to a wildly successful June.
Last year, Atlanta had dropped the first two games of a series in Arionza to close out May, falling four games under .500, but Brian Snitker didn’t want to rant and rave. The message was simple: relax.
It resonated too because the Braves rattled off 14 straight wins. By the time the club lost its first game in June 2022, they had cut what seemed to be an insurmountable 10.5-game deficit in the NL East to just 5.5 games and gone from 4.5 games out of a Wild Card spot to the fourth-best record in the National League.
We obviously know how the rest of the story goes… the Braves did chase down the Mets, capping off the improbable comeback with a sweep of New York at Truist Park near the end of the season, finishing with a 78-34 record since Snitker’s closed-door meeting.
Fast forward to the 2023 campaign, and a similar meeting netted even better results.
The club had come out of the gate on fire, going 18-9 in April, but May was a different story. Atlanta couldn’t find its groove, going 15-14 over that span.
Granted, the Braves were in much better standing within the division this year, owning a 33-23 record with a four-game lead atop the NL East. However, the club would go on to lose a tough contest to the Diamondbacks 3-2 — their third loss in the last four games, two of which came at the hands of the worst team in baseball, the Oakland A’s.
So, naturally, Snit decided it was time for another meeting, resulting in a historic month for the Braves. Boasting a 21-4 record in June, tying the franchise record for wins in a month, there’s not a hotter team in baseball.
All facets of the team are clicking, outside some stinkers from the starting rotation, picking one another up when the other falters. The bullpen has a collective 2.74 ERA, and the defense has been much improved of late, accruing +8 Outs Above Average in June, third best in baseball.
However, it’s really been the offense that has carried the club through the first month of Summer. They slugged .572 with 61 long balls and a .307 batting average, good for a .943 OPS. Matching the best win total in franchise history while eclipsing the home run record… is pretty good.
For reference, Chipper Jones owns a career .930 OPS and .303 average, so the Braves, as a team, produced at a Hall of Fame level this month.
It’s a testament to the job Alex Anthopoulos has done building a complete roster. Some said this was the greatest team in franchise history to begin the season, and I don’t know how anyone could say differently halfway through the 2023 campaign.
This club has dealt with as many injuries as any in baseball, yet it looks like the most dominant.
Photographer: David J. Griffin/Icon Sportswire