The Braves might not have swung big in free agency this offseason like their division rivals, but the club still returns one of the most talented rosters in baseball because of the front office’s ability to lock up core pieces of the team for years to come. For the better part of the next decade, the Braves’ lineup isn’t going to fluctuate much. And in most cases, consistency is a good thing, especially with the production the team expects from its key players. But with the Phillies and, more impressively, the Mets making big moves this offseason, how does the Braves’ 2023 lineup rank among the rest of the league?
Anthony Castrovince of MLB.com recently ranked the top 10 lineups in baseball, and the Braves came in at No. 6 behind the Cardinals, Blue Jays, Astros, Padres, and Mets and in front of the Dodgers, Phillies, Yankees, and Guardians. Here’s what Castrovince had to say about the Braves:
Another lineup that might be undersold here. (What can I say? This is hard.) For what it’s worth (and it could be worth a lot), FanGraphs’ current runs per game projections (pre-Correa on the Mets) have the Braves at No. 1. I can see it, if Acuña — further removed from knee surgery — returns to MVP-level production, if Olson returns to his 2021 output now that he’s more comfortable in Atlanta, and if Grissom proves to be the real deal in Dansby Swanson’s absence. The Braves got great production from d’Arnaud and William Contreras at catcher and DH last season and that is a good bet to continue with Murphy aboard.
Prior to the Carlos Correa signing, the Braves were projected to have the most wins in baseball in 2023 by FanGraphs. And there’s a reason for it: the Braves are stacked — lineup, rotation, and bullpen. There are a few things I wanted to address further as well. Castrovince points out a few “ifs” that I feel will become a reality.
For two reasons, Matt Olson’s numbers should improve dramatically in 2023. First, he’ll be more comfortable in Atlanta and not have the pressure of filling Freddie Freeman’s shoes nearly as much. The league’s shift ban will also likely result in better production. Olson’s 47 hits lost to the shift since 2020 ranks 3rd in the league, which would have improved his average to .288 from .250 — a dramatic difference.
Moreover, Acuña’s pre-injury numbers were absolutely bonkers, MVP-level stuff. Now, I’m not expecting that to happen in 2023, but I believe he’ll be closer to the 2021 version of himself — which had a .990 OPS, 52 RBIs, and 24 home runs in about half of the season — than the 2022 version. Over his first four seasons, the ultra-talented Acuna slashed .281/.376/.550 with 43 homers on a 162-game pace. Having him back and fully healthy should prove extremely fruitful for the Brave’s offense.
Photographer: Joe Robbins/Icon Sportswire
You must log in to post a comment.