Supplementary pieces continue to lead the way for the Braves

MLB: JUL 21 Braves at Brewers

The Braves are without three All-Stars, and the superstars that are playing every day are not performing up to expectations, yet they keep winning. After last night’s win over the Marlins, Atlanta sits at 15-6 on the season, the best record in the National League and a game clear of the Phillies in the NL East. There’s a long way to go, but what has made the Braves so great in recent years is their ability to get contributions from somebody different every night, and that’s what’s propelled them early on while the top of the lineup continues to find their footing.

Last night, it was Bryce Elder and Travis d’Arnaud (again) that stole the show. Elder tossed 6.2 scoreless innings against the Marlins in his first start for the Braves this season, and d’Arnaud hit his fifth home run in eight plate appearances, leading to a 3-0 victory.

Tonight, we’ll get a chance to see Reynaldo Lopez for the fourth time, who has been hands-down the Braves best starting pitcher through the first month of the season while guys like Max Fried, Chris Sale, and Charlie Morton have struggled. Lopez boasts a 0.50 ERA through his first 18 career innings with the Braves, and an argument could be made that he’s been the team’s most valuable player to this point in the season.

However, most would point to Marcell Ozuna. The Big Bear has been the hottest bat on the planet dating back to last May, smacking 47 home runs and hitting north of .300. Through 21 games this season, Ozuna is leading Major League Baseball in home runs (9), RBIs (27), and slugging percentage (.687). The Braves would be struggling to keep their head above water without The Big Bear, but remarkably, he’s not alone atop the team leaders in fWAR.

That honor also belongs to Orlando Arcia, who, as always, has been stellar defensively at shortstop. But just like last year, Arcia is red-hot to begin the season, hitting .338 with a 136 wRC+(36% above league average). Is it ridiculous to think he may be on his way to back-to-back All-Star games since being named the Braves starting shortstop?

Everything Alex Anthopoulos touches seems to turn to gold. It’s almost unthinkable that a team could lose arguably the best pitcher in baseball, a top-five catcher, and a top-five second baseman, and still be vying for the best record in Major League Baseball.

The talent and depth is second to none, but it’s more than that. The way the Braves approach the game is different than the rest of the league. Guys play loose and are immune to pressure, knowing that the man behind him can pick up the slack on any given night. There’s a reason why players seem to perform their best when they come to Atlanta, and it’s why they’ll be sitting alone atop the standings five months from now.

Photo: Larry Radloff/Icon Sportswire

Scroll to Top
%d bloggers like this: