There hasn’t been much to be excited about when it comes to the Braves this season, but a lot of guys on this team deserve some love. Injuries and off the field issues have absolutely ravaged this team, yet somehow, they’re still only four games back of the Mets going into the second half. With that, I’m going to give some shine to the players who deserve some love.
MVP: Ronald Acuña Jr.
I’m not going to even go into this one. It just makes me sad. Get well soon, Ronald. We miss you.
Stats: .283/.394/.596/.990, 19 2B, 24 HR, 17 SB, 52 RBI
Cy Young: Ian Anderson
Ian Anderson has pitched very well, even after taking on a lot more responsibility than he should have had to this season. Guys like Kyle Muller, Tucker Davidson, and Huascar Ynoa have also been fantastic, but Anderson has provided a lot more consistency throughout the season. Charlie Morton gets a very big honorable mention here (8-3, 3.64 ERA, 1.10 WHIP), but Anderson has been much more steady while Morton got hot around early June.
Stats: 5-5, 3.56 ERA, 1.25 WHIP
Pitcher — Luke Jackson
Position Player — Austin Riley
Luke Jackson catches a lot of heat from Braves fans, and everyone was waiting to see if he would see some regression after his spin rate plummeted when Major League Baseball implemented their new rules banning foreign substances. However, Jackon is still chugging along with a 1.64 ERA over 33 innings. Not many fans expected him to be the most steady presence in the bullpen this year.
Austin Riley had another monster spring, reminiscent of his rookie season. From May 15th to May 23rd, he bashed six home runs over 30 at-bats. Still, Riley’s consistency is what has been the most important. Yes, he cooled off, but he still has an .827 OPS and has cut down on the strikeouts. That’s a big leap for a guy that was involved in a lot of trade chatter among fans this offseason
Pitcher — Drew Smyly
Position Player — Dansby Swanson
The Drew Smyly signing was always going to be a gamble, but when you pay a guy $11 million, you expect a little more out of him. Max Fried actually has a worse ERA (4.71), but his numbers are greatly inflated by a few really bad starts. He’s also not making anywhere close to what Smyly makes. Smyly isn’t awful for a fifth starter, but when you sign two big name pitchers to fill out the rotation and one guy has a 4.48 ERA at the All-Star Break, it’s disappointing.
Pretty sure everyone knew what was coming with the position player; Dansby has seen a lot of regression after leading shortstops in WAR in 2020. While he is on pace to crush his career high in home runs (17), he’s tied for the sixth most strikeouts in all of baseball and only has a .755 OPS. Swanson has been heating up over the past two weeks, so there’s still hope that he finishes the season on a high note.
Most Clutch: Freddie Freeman
After a slow start due to a bit of bad luck, Freddie started another All Star Game, and it was well deserved. This season, Freeman is hitting .331 with men on base and has clubbed 12 extra base hits with 38 RBI. With men in scoring position, Freeman is hitting .348 with six extra base hits and 38 RBI. Ozzie Albies came pretty close to matching these numbers, and while he has more power in these situations, Freddie has been just a bit more consistent. Freeman has been the presence that he always has been, even after a sluggish start at the plate.
Stats: .274/.381/.489/.871, 14 2B, 19 HR, 50 RBI
Most Underrated: Ozzie Albies
It’s hard to call an All Star underrated, but sometimes I feel like Braves fans can get lost in everything and forget how good Ozzie Albies is. He is a true superstar, and possibly the best second baseman in all of baseball. He has shown even more considerable gap-to-gap power this season, and I hope he finishes with a hot start — the Braves need it.
Stats: .262/.323/.500/.823, 25 2B, 5 3B, 15 HR, 61 RBI, 13 SB
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