The Braves are one month through the season and sit at 12-15, already six games behind the New York Mets for first place in the NL East. It’s been far from the ideal start following a World Series, but as I said in an earlier article, it’s nowhere near time to panic. A lot of these guys are feeling the effects of a shortened Spring Training; eventually, the cream (the Braves) will rise to the top.
There’s too much talent for this team not to make the playoffs as long as they stay healthy. The slow starts for many of these players won’t last forever; however, if there were someone to be concerned about moving forward, who would it be? The Braves have a lot of candidates, but I believe there’s only one guy whose slumping start could be a sign of things to come.
HA HA, you thought! If you follow me on Twitter, you know I’m a firm believer in Dansby Swanson’s talent. Will he ever be a top-five shortstop? Absolutely not. But is he a borderline top-ten option at the position? Yes. Swanson started off the season looking like he belonged in AA, but that’s just par for the course for him. Every year, he goes through a stretch where it seems like he doesn’t belong in the majors, and he usually responds with a torrid hot streak to remind everyone why he was a #1 overall draft pick.
Swanson’s numbers for the entire season aren’t inspiring. He’s hitting just .233 with a home run, but if you take out the first week of the season, he’s hitting .274 with a .778 OPS over his last 19 games. Combine that with his defense, and the Braves are doing just fine at shortstop.
After starting the year scorching-hot, looking like the man who nearly won the triple crown back in 2020, Ozuna has gone ice cold over his last 16 games. Since April 18th, he’s hitting just .159 with a .400 OPS. That’s even more worrisome when you consider his below-average defense. Still, Ozuna’s been a streaky hitter for the majority of his career. I fully expect him to pick it back up and be a critical piece to the middle of the Braves lineup.
I was actually pretty shocked at how many people have expressed their concern with Charlie Morton early this season. His first five starts have been pretty abysmal, posting a 6.85 ERA, but this is a 38-year-old pitcher coming off an injury that had next to no Spring Training. I’m not surprised at all by his slow start, especially after the way he began poorly last season. The issues with Morton clearly appear to be mechanical at the moment. He looks healthy, and the stuff still has the potential to be elite. I believe his last three innings against the Mets on Tuesday are a sign of things to come. For right now, there’s no reason to believe he won’t figure it out this season.
I feel wrong writing this following arguably Duvall’s best game of 2022, in which he had two hits and two RBIs against the Mets, but if there is one player I’m concerned about, it is him. This is a guy who relies almost solely on the long ball to be successful, and right now, he’s having trouble even making contact, let alone barreling up the ball. We’ve also seen Duvall have some long stretches over his career where he’s been very unproductive at the plate, like when the Braves first acquired him via trade from the Reds. I don’t think worried is the proper term for him right now, but his production is definitely something I will be keeping a close eye on moving forward, and I imagine the Braves will be as well.
Photo: Rich von Biberstein/Icon Sportswire
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