4 Braves that are playing their way into awards consideration in 2023

It is always good news when the Braves have players on both sides of the ball that could take home MLB's biggest individual prizes.

New York Yankees v Atlanta Braves
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It is hardly a secret that the Atlanta Braves have a loaded roster, particularly on the position player side. You don't get to 80 wins in mid August by running out a bunch of league average guys and role players. This is a team full of absolute studs that are capable of beating any team on any given night.

At the end of the day, the most important thing is that a team plays well together to put up wins and the Braves' chemistry on the field and in the clubhouse has been a huge factor in their success during this run since 2018. However, a nice added bonus of having a roster full of uber-talented guys is that fans get to see their favorite players in contention for some individual hardware after the season as well.

Here are 4 Braves players that are playing their way into awards consideration in 2023

The focus here is mostly going to be on the major awards. Silver Sluggers are really cool honors and one can fully expect the Braves to have a bunch of guys in contention for them, but they aren't going to be a focus here because the line has to be drawn somewhere. Also, a lot can change between now and the end of the season. A couple bad starts or a slump for a couple weeks could change the complexion of these races dramatically. That is just the name of the game.

Let's take a look at four of the Braves' major awards contenders going into the home stretch of the 2023 season.

Matt Olson

After the first couple months of the season, few would have put Matt Olson as a serious MVP contender. Sure, he was hitting home runs, but the strikeouts were piling up and the rest of his numbers beyond the occasional dinger just weren't there. The Braves didn't really need him to be any more than that, but what Olson has done over the last few months is nothing short of extraordinary.

For the last three months, Olson has put up wRC+ of 159, 185, and 190 (so far) while totaling 26 homers over that span. His 43 homers have gotten all the headlines, but this is a guy who has been one of the best all-around hitters in the league for a big chunk of the season. The competition for National League MVP is likely to be fierce the rest of the way with another current Brave (more on him in a bit) and a former Brave being really strong contenders, but do not be surprised whatsoever if Olson ends up with a strong showing in the voting by season's end.

Spencer Strider

Unfortunately, Max Fried getting hurt and missing a large portion of the 2023 ended any hope that he could make a strong push for the NL Cy Young Award after two top 5 finishes in the last three years. However, Spencer Strider has risen to the occasion in 2023 and if he can finish the season strong over the next month plus, he has a real shot of taking home the award.

Strider has a few things going for him. For starters, his gaudy strikeout numbers are likely to garner a lot of press in the coming weeks as he has already put up 227 of them in 146.1 innings this year. Also, among the major candidates which include the Diamondbacks' Zac Gallen and the Phillies' Zack Wheeler, Strider plays on the best team. While that absolutely shouldn't matter when a guy has a clear case over the rest of the field, this year things are much more bunched up at the top with just 0.2 fWAR separating first and third place on the WAR leaderboard and that could end up being a tiebreaker for voters. It will take a strong finish to 2023 and bringing his ERA down a bit more, but make no mistake: Spencer Strider is very much in the hunt for the NL Cy Young this season.

Ronald Acuna Jr.

This is about as easy a name to include on this sort of list as you will find as Ronald Acuna Jr. has been the favorite to win NL MVP since the season began. Everyone is well aware of the potential that Ronnie has when he is on the field and now that Ronald is fully healthy again, fans are finally getting to see how much of an impact he makes on a night in, night out basis for the Braves.

Ronald's numbers are just absurd. Through 121 games, he has posted a .334/.420/.569 slash line with 6.1 fWAR and that was before he launched his 28th homer of the season last night. Thanks to his game changing speed that has already yielded 55 stolen bases this year, he is on the precipice of a 30/50 season that we haven't seen since Barry Bonds and Eric Davis' days and 40/50 season is entirely possible if he can get on a home run hot streak. The NL MVP voting could get weird this year as a pair of teammates in Acuna/Olson as well as the Dodgers' Freddie Freeman/Mookie Betts could result in some vote splitting happening, but Ronnie remains the favorite to take the award home if he can keep this up.

Sean Murphy

The focus here is rightly on the major awards categories, but finding some time to show some love and appreciation for Sean Murphy seems like the right thing to do. Through the first half of the 2023 season, it was Murphy and not Olson that had the best argument for inclusion in the MVP discussion as he was hitting .306 with a 166 wRC+ in the first half while playing a ton behind the plate with Travis d'Arnaud dealing with a concussion.

Murphy has cooled off at the plate in the second half and has played less now that TdA is healthy again, but there is no denying the impact he has had on the defensive end. Funnily enough, Murphy's chief competition for the catching Gold Glove in the National League seems to be the guy that was traded for him as the Brewers' William Contreras has put together an excellent season both at the plate and in the field for Milwaukee. Murphy's reputation seems like it could carry him when the dust settles here, but his season deserves some recognition even if he doesn't take home the hardware.

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