3 takeaways from the Braves' thrilling series win over the Guardians

The surprise of the 2024 MLB season thus far came to Atlanta over the weekend and gave the Braves all they could handle.
Cleveland Guardians v Atlanta Braves
Cleveland Guardians v Atlanta Braves / Matthew Grimes Jr./Atlanta Braves/GettyImages

Pardon me for taking a small detour from talking specifically about the Braves but I think a lot of baseball fans have been pretty skeptical of how good this Cleveland Guardians team actually is despite a hot start.

For most Braves fans, their questions were answered this weekend as the Guardians battled tooth and nail with an Atlanta squad that has lost only one series this season and holds the best record in Major League Baseball through just about the first month of the season.

It's a scrappy group, much differently constructed than the Braves, and obviously with less depth. But they are just a fun team to watch. They are aggressive on the basepaths and tend to get on base a lot, placing 10th in the MLB in both on-base percentage and batting average as a team while placing fourth in the MLB as a team in stolen bases.

That just makes for fun and exciting baseball and the provided that for viewers of the series this weekend.

To add to that, they have Jose Ramirez, Josh Naylor, and quality pitching. More specifically, the pitching performance from their starters and bullpen was impressive all series against a tough Braves lineup.

Will they go on a deep run in the postseason? That's still to be determined, but they are putting themselves right into the thick of that conversation in the AL after not being anywhere near the conversation in the preseason.

Atlanta's success is impressive despite struggles from their star players

Whenever anyone talks about what makes the Braves so good, one of the first things that comes to mind is the sheer depth of the roster and the guys they can plug and play when someone needs a rest or gets injured.

That has been key with a couple of injuries early on in the season for the Braves but it's been even more key considering that the players that were considered the top three hitters in the lineup coming into the season have been nowhere near that in April.

In this series, Ronald Acuña Jr., Austin Riley, and Matt Olson were a combined 5-for-36 at the plate and four of those hits came in the series finale on Sunday.

Of the 12 regular players in the starting lineup this season, including the two platoons at catcher and left field, Olson, Acuña, and Riley are 9, 10, and 11 in OPS amongst those players respectively, only ahead of Chadwick Tromp. They all also lead the team with 30 strikeouts a piece.

If you were to poll Braves fans as to who was their best bat coming into the season, most would put Acuña first, Olson second, and Riley third with Olson and Riley arguably being interchangeable.

As just noted though, through the first month of the season, that has been nowhere near the case, and yet the Braves are still holding the best record in baseball while ranking first in the MLB in runs per game (5.7), team batting average (.277), and team OPS (.801).

We can thank the .900 OPS of Travis D'Arnaud and Ozzie Albies, as well as the astronomical 1.086 OPS of Marcel Ozuna, who leads the MLB in RBI (31), for keeping the Braves offense where it belongs to start this season.

One more note: Though Acuña's OPS is way down, 10th amongst the regulars in the lineup, it's more reflective of his lack of power. His average is still low at .255 but of his 26 hits this season, five have been doubles and just one home run, putting his slugging rate at just .333. His on-base percentage, thanks to a team-high 18 walks, is still well above league average at .382 and has him tied for an MLB second-best 26 runs.

This just goes to show that even when Ronnie isn't as his best, he's still finds ways to impact the team for the better.

Welcome back Ozzie Albies

Ozzie Albies came back to the Braves lineup with a bang on Friday, being reinstated earlier in the day and then promptly going 2-for-4 with a double, and RBI and a run in a win for the Braves.

Albies doubled again on Saturday and in the series finale, duplicating his line from the series opener.
He was 5-for-13 with two RBI, two runs, and three doubles in the two-hole for the Braves over the weekend, dismissing any injury concerns after his stint on the 10-day IL.

Ozzie was a huge part of the Braves being able to take two out of three games from the Guardians this weekend. This shows just how important he is to the success of this Atlanta team.

His bat only provides more power for a Braves lineup that is looking to continue to roll against another scorching hot AL squad in the Seattle Mariners, who are 7-3 in their last 10 games going into their series with Atlanta.

More Braves News from House That Hank Built