The Braves offense just got a whole lot scarier

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I remember it like it was yesterday. Only weeks into the offseason, the Braves made their first substantial free agent splash in ages by signing former AL MVP Josh Donaldson to a one-year, $23 million deal. All the talk about Atlanta “shopping in any aisle” quickly came to fruition. It was the largest one-year contract handed out in MLB history. Everybody in Braves Country was rejoicing, and those who weren’t suffered from terminal short-term memories. Donaldson was the power bat Atlanta needed and didn’t require multiple years of guaranteed money, making him the perfect stopgap until the arrival of Austin Riley.

This was an A+ deal to most until the front office went into Zero Dark Thiry mode for the remainder of the offseason. The only significant move (I say that generously) they made between Donaldson and the start of the season was re-signing Nick Markakis for another year with a team option in 2020, leaving a lot of Braves fans disgruntled.

Why would Atlanta spend $23 million on a third baseman coming off of injury and completely neglect the pitching staff and outfield, especially when their top prospect plays third base? Those questions only became more commonplace as Donaldson started slow, but it was a matter of time before his production began speaking for himself.

The Bringer of Rain’s first two and a half months as a Brave went about as poorly as he could have envisioned – at least with the bat. His average dipped below .240, the power was underwhelming, and the strikeouts were aplenty. Then this incident with Joe Musgrove happened:

First off, I know Donaldson doesn’t look like Brock Lesnar out there, but check how easily he tosses the catcher out of the way – like throwing out an oversized paper towel.  I’m not sure why Donaldson reacted the way he did because Musgrove did nothing wrong, but a lot of it probably had to do with built up frustration. He needed to let some anger out, and it’s paying off.

Donaldson has hit safely in all six games since Musgrove beamed him, including four home runs and eight RBIs. He’s coming off a series against the Phillies in which he accumulated seven hits and three homers. As a result, the Braves scored 29 runs in a three-game set. Donaldson is the type of bat that can carry an offense and is part of what makes Atlanta so intimidating from top to bottom – even when he is slumping. His mere presence makes pitchers sweat.

As slow as the 2015 AL MVP has started, he still has a better batting average, on-base percentage, and slugging percentage than Bryce Harper. His WAR is double that of Harper’s. Oh, and he’s not under contract for the next thirteen seasons. This remains a top-notch addition from Alex Anthopoulos, and it’s only beginning to pay off. An already lethal Braves offense just got a whole lot scarier.

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