We are now a little over a quarter of the way through the grueling 162-game schedule, and the Braves are not only surprisingly leading the NL East, they have the best record in the entire National League. That sort of success has come from an entire lineup producing at the most vital of times. With so many players performing at such a high-level, it was not easy choosing many of these awards. A problem, the Braves have not had in quite some time.
Rolaids Relief Award
The Braves relief pitching has been shaky at times this season, but it would be a lot worse without the arms of two guys, Daniel Winkler and Shane Carle. Really, both of these guys could have won the award. Carle has not allowed a run since April 18th and has not allowed and earned-run since even longer than that. He has only allowed two earned runs over 26 innings pitched this season, the first run coming on opening day. He has been lights out, but due to Winkler’s ability to overpower hitters and some of the tough spots the Braves have chosen to pitch him in, he slightly beats out Carle for this award. Winkler has also given up just two earned runs in 19.1 innings pitched (0.93 ERA), and what might be even more impressive is his 28 strikeouts over that time. Winkler has been an absolute stud and it should not surprise anyone if he starts to see set-up or possibly even closing duties this season.
Honorable mention: Shane Carle
Rookie of the Year
Ronald Acuna Jr.
Unfortunately, Ozzie Albies used up his rookie status at the end of last year or he would be running away with the award for the National League. However, his buddy, Ronald Acuna Jr., still has a terrific chance of capturing the award. The #1 prospect in all of baseball was called up to the majors in late April and has yet to look back. He is currently hitting .264 with four home runs and eleven RBIs in his first month of major league action. Those numbers are far from stellar, but from the eye test, Acuna has all the tools to become a star at the major-league level. His power, speed, glove are all plus attributes and it is just a matter of time before this 20-year old kid is being talked about as one of the best players on the Braves, if not all of baseball.
This was the easiest of the awards to select to this point. Sean Newcomb has been the ace of the rotation this entire season and has been un-hittable in his last four starts. He has allowed one earned run in his last 25 innings pitched, resulting in a 4-0 record and a K/BB ratio of 2.4. If Newcomb can keep his walk numbers down, there is no reason he cannot continue this string of fantastic outings. He is constantly able to keep hitters off balance with a mid-90s fastball from the left side to go along with a looping curveball and a changeup that seems to keep getting better. If the Braves can continue their current run of form into the postseason, there should be no reason Newcomb does not see the mound in a Game one.
Unlike the Cy Young award, this award was by far the toughest to give out. There have simply been so many players playing at an MVP-level. However, from a consistency standpoint, nobody has been more solid than Nick Markakis. Markakis is far from the sexiest option for this award, but it is impossible to ignore his impact through the first 45 games. He currently has the most hits in the MLB (62) ahead of Mookie Betts and Manny Machado (61). He ranks second in average in the National League and is sixth in both RBIs and run scored. Markakis had done it all for the Braves in the cleanup spot, even showcasing some power that Braves fans have yet to see since he arrived in Hotlanta in 2015. With seven home-runs already, it is possible Markakis hits the twenty home-run mark for the first time since 2008 and only the third time in his career. The man has been striking on all cylinders and deserves this award, for now.
Honorable Mention: Ozzie Albies, Freddie Freeman