The Atlanta Braves are now 20 games over .500, on pace to win their second straight NL East title, and they are doing it with a great deal of efficiency. The Braves’ infield, which has anchored the best team in the league for most of the second half, continues to be the cornerstone of their success.
Injuries are all part of the season in baseball, but most coaches and managers would prefer to avoid them. Their presence, though not always an excuse, does create a number of interesting issues that can affect a team’s performance. One issue is how the team’s roster is affected, particularly when a key player is out for extended time.
The Atlanta Braves are 70-42 in their last 102 games. During that stretch, the Braves have scored 5.7 runs per game, and won 50 games for the first time since 2012. The Braves lead the NL East, and have an outside chance of reaching the World Series. In the process, they have become one of baseball’s best teams on both sides of the ball.. Read more about atlanta hawks and let us know what you think.
With runners at first and second and one out in the top of the fourth inning, Freddie Freeman came up to the bat with the Atlanta Braves and Miami Marlins knotted at two.
This is the perfect scenario for a Freeman. In 2021, he was hitting.337 with runners in scoring position as of Monday’s game. Last season, he had a.423 batting average (and slugged a ridiculous .885). In 2019, he hit.358. When Freeman comes to bat with a runner on second base, there’s a high chance something wonderful will happen. You can’t really pitch around him with first base occupied, like you can with Freeman when there’s just a runner on second.
You don’t want to be down 3-1 in the count as Marlins pitcher Paul Campbell did, and you definitely don’t want to throw a 3-1 cookie down the middle. Freeman launched a 110 mph rocket to right-center for a three-run homer, a shot with an anticipated batting average of.980, which begs the question of how the 2% probability of an out would factor into the equation. Maybe if Ken Griffey Jr. was perched atop the wall with a fishing net.
The Braves went on to beat the Marlins 12-2, with three hits each from Freeman and Ozzie Albies leading the 14-hit barrage. With the Mets losing rapidly, the National League East is turning into a two-team battle between Atlanta and Philadelphia — and the Braves are finally beginning to resemble the squad many anticipated to see back in spring training. Atlanta’s power-hitting infield is leading the way now that Ronald Acuna Jr. is sidelined for the season. Freeman leads the team with 26 home runs, followed by Austin Riley (25), Dansby Swanson (24), and Albies (22). The four infielders have combined to bat in 14 August games. With 15 home runs, 48 RBIs, and 49 runs, he batted 320. Swanson has been the most productive, hitting.379 with four home runs and 15 RBIs in 15 at-bats.
On the ESPN Fantasy Focus Baseball show, my friends Eric Karabell and Tristan Cockcroft stated that all four guys had a chance to reach 30 home runs. Only 14 teams have ever had four players hit 30 home runs in the same season, and none of them were infielders, as you would think. This team has the potential to be one of the best power-hitting infields in history.
ESPN Stats & Information’s Jared Berson informed that only one team has even had all four primary infielders reach 25 home runs, which will be a shoo-in for the Braves’ four sluggers. The 2008 Marlins — no, you never would have guessed them — saw shortstop Hanley Ramirez hit 33 homers, first baseman Mike Jacobs and second baseman Dan Uggla hit 32, and third baseman Jorge Cantu hit 29. Eight of Cantu’s home runs actually came as a first baseman, so the season totals for the Marlins by position were 40 at first base, 33 at second base, 34 at shortstop and 23 at third base — 130 from the four positions.
In a season, the most team home runs come from the infield.
|2019||Astros||139||A. Bregman, Y. Gurriel, J. Altuve, C. Correa|
|2007||Brewers||134||R. Weeks, J. Hardy, R. Braun, P. Fielder, R. Weeks, R. Braun, R. Braun, R. Braun, R. Braun, R. Braun|
|2002||Rangers||131||H. Perry, R. Palmeiro, M. Young, A. Rodriguez|
|2008||Marlins||130||M. Jacobs, D. Uggla, and J. Cantu, H. Ramirez, M. Jacobs, M. Jacobs, M. Jacobs, M. Jacobs, M. Jacobs, M.|
|2019||A’s||130||J. Profar, M. Semien, M. Chapman, M. Olson, J. Profar, M. Semien, M. Chapman, M. Olson, J. Profar,|
The Braves have a chance to break Houston’s record with 99 infield home runs; they’re on pace for 135. More significantly, they currently have a 111-game lead over the Phillies.
The Braves have struggled even when Acuna was healthy. They dropped their first four games and spent the first four months of the season attempting to break the.500 mark. At 4-4, 12-12, 17-17, 24-24, 29-29, and 44-44, they were.500, only to lose all six games that would have given them a winning record. In reality, Acuna’s injury occurred in Game 88. With too many injuries and extra-inning defeats, it seemed like this might be one of those seasons.
Finally, on August 3, the Braves defeated the Cardinals 7-4 to tie the game at 54-54, scoring three runs in the eighth inning. The Cardinals were defeated 8-4 the following night, with six runs scored in the eighth inning with two outs. (Austin Riley blasted a game-tying home run, and the St. Louis bullpen gave up a single, struck out a hitter, then walked five batters in a row.) The Braves were on a roll after those two wins.
Perhaps things changed on July 30, when general manager Alex Anthopoulos acquired outfielders Jorge Soler and Adam Duvall on trade deadline day to help fill in for Acuna and Marcell Ozuna. On July 31, the Braves defeated the Brewers, with Soler batting 3-for-4 and Swanson hitting two home runs. Since joining the Braves, Soler has hit.250/.373/.464 while Duvall has five home runs and 11 RBIs in 12 games.
The lineup now resembles the Braves’ powerful 2020 lineup, which finished second in the majors (by one run) and was the greatest in club history since the 1890s, averaging 5.80 runs per game.
Of course, hitting is only one part of the equation. However, with a 3.35 ERA over this 12-3 run (including that July 31 victory), the pitching has been considerably superior. Another deadline addition, reliever Richard Rodriguez, has been a big help to the bullpen, pitching nine shutout innings. Tyler Matzek, a strong bullpen arm in 2020, has also been much sharper of late, allowing just one hit in 62/3 innings with 11 strikeouts.
Touki Toussaint, the starter on Monday, is also a crucial figure in these closing weeks. The Braves have gone through 11 starters, but Toussaint, who was recalled from the minors on July 20, has provided some consistency to the back half of the rotation. He had one poor outing, but in his other five outings, he has only allowed two earned runs.
The Braves will also benefit from Huascar Ynoa’s return to the rotation on Tuesday. Before fracturing his right hand hitting the dugout bench in anger, the 23-year-old right-hander had been so outstanding early in the season, with a 3.02 ERA through eight outings. On Monday, he spoke with reporters and said that he would return wiser. Because he built up his arm during his rehab assignment, he will not be on a restricted pitch count.
Suddenly, the division’s preseason co-favorites seem to be in the best shape of the season. The Phillies have arguably the easiest remaining schedule of any postseason candidate, as Jeff Passan detailed in this article, so the Braves are far from a certainty to win their fourth consecutive division championship. The Braves, on the other hand, are the superior club, with a plus-82 run differential to the Phillies’ minus-18. I’m predicting the Braves to keep cruising to the division title with the slugging quartet leading the way.
ESPN Stats & Information contributed to this story.
The Atlanta Braves are having a pretty good year, and their potent offense is certainly a major reason why. The Braves have the second-best record in the National League, trailing only the Chicago Cubs. The team’s offense ranks fifth in runs scored and third in batting average. The lineup is led by Freddie Freeman and Nick Markakis, who are both hitting .276. The Braves are also a very good defensive team, ranking fourth in the NL in both team ERA and fielding percentage.. Read more about espn and let us know what you think.
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