5 Most Disappointing Atlanta Braves Since the All-Star Break

It feels like everything has gone right for the Atlanta Braves in 2023. But this is baseball and not everyone can be hot all the time.

Atlanta Braves v Philadelphia Phillies
Atlanta Braves v Philadelphia Phillies / Kevin D. Liles/Atlanta Braves/GettyImages
2 of 6

The Atlanta Braves have clinched the NL East and are heading toward a number one seed in the postseason. They lead the league in runs scored, runs driven in, homers, batting average, and overall happiness. It's been a great year to be a Braves fan!

Ronald Acuna Jr. has done something no one has ever done. Matt Olson set the franchise record for home runs. Spencer Strider has established himself as an ace and a Cy Young candidate. The Braves have 99 wins (as of this writing) and are 14.0 games ahead of the second-place Phillies.

Today, we'll take a look at the five most disappointing performances since the All-Star break. Let's be honest, there haven't been a lot of things to be disappointed about in 2023. The cool thing is, the Braves have been so good up and down the roster that the pickings were slim.

Speaking of pickings, we aren't here to pick on anyone. We were just interested in what the numbers said. Let's face it, so are you... that's why you are reading this. You knew what you were getting into.

So, enough of the introductory words. Here's a recap: Braves are really good, here's five that haven't been good since the All-Star break. You may proceed.

5. Travis d'Arnaud

Travis d'Arnaud, Sean Murphy, and Max Fried celebrate the Atlanta Braves 2023 NL East title.
Travis d'Arnaud, Sean Murphy, and Max Fried celebrate the Atlanta Braves 2023 NL East title. / Kevin D. Liles/Atlanta Braves/GettyImages

We all love Travis d'Arnaud. He's been a wonderful addition to the Braves and we were all excited to see AA sign him to an extension this year. TDA and Sean Murphy make up the most formidable duo behind the plate in baseball. In team catcher production, the Braves are near the top in several key categories thanks to the contributions of Murphy and d'Arnaud.

Atlanta Braves catchers have driven in 107 runs and crushed 31 homers, both are tops in the National League. However, things have cooled off since the All-Star break.

Travis d'Arnaud has been two different players in the first and second halves of 2023. In the first half, he slashed .275/.349/,496. His sOPS+ was 130 prior to the star-studded respite. Since then, he has slashed .183/.221/.325 with just three homers. His sOPS+ is 46.

This is just a blip on the radar for TDA and we know he'll pull the nose up. However, there is no doubt that these numbers have been disappointing. The poor second-half performance has really roughed up his season numbers, despite the good first half. d'Arnaud now finds himself with a .231 batting average, a .289 on-base percentage, and a .414 slugging percentage. He has an 86 OPS+ with a 0.0 rWAR.

Hopefully, d'Arnaud can get his swing straightened out before the postseason!

4. Kevin Pillar

Philadelphia Phillies v Atlanta Braves
Philadelphia Phillies v Atlanta Braves / Matthew Grimes Jr./Atlanta Braves/GettyImages

The Atlanta Braves brought Kevin Pillar in this offseason to be a usable utility outfielder. He's always been known as a much better glove than a bat. However, the bat has been even worse than expected in the second half of 2023.

Pillar came to the Braves with a career slash of .257/.294/.408. That's a .701 OPS (87 OPS+) for his career. Pillar has hit just .184 since the All-Star break. his .192 OBP and .276 SLG combine to give Pillar a miserable .469 OPS. His sOPS+ in the second half is just 25. That means his OPS has been 75% worse than league average since the break.

On the bright side, Pillar has posted three defensive runs saved in just 382.0 innings in the outfield. He's also posted three outs above average in his limited time in the field, showing he still has solid range. The problem, of course, is his bat has been so bad it limits how often the Braves can deploy him.

Like we said, Pillar was not brought in to be an above-average offensive contributor, but his second half performance has been abysmal.

3. Jared Shuster

Atlanta Braves v San Francisco Giants
Atlanta Braves v San Francisco Giants / Thearon W. Henderson/GettyImages

Jared Shuster entered the season as the Braves top prospect. With early injuries to Max Fried and Kyle Wright, Shuster had an opening to make an impact. Unfortunately, it wasn't the positive impact we all hoped for.

Shuster has been a part of the starting pitcher parade this season for the Braves. He is just one of 16 dudes to make a start. The Braves have had a weakness at the end of the rotation all year. Shuster could have been a solution but couldn't take advantage of the opportunity.

Shuster made nine starts in the first half and posted a 5.00 ERA. He's had a couple of shots since the All-Star break but again was unable to do so. Shuster gave up eight earned runs in just 7.2 innings. The two appearances raised his season ERA from 5.00 to 5.64.

Over three minor-league seasons, Shuster averaged 9.2 strikeouts per nine innings. In 11 Major League starts this season, Shuster's SO9 is just 5.1. He has only walked 3.1 batters per nine in the minors, but not so much in the majors. Shuster has walked 4.4 walks per nine this season. He has just four fewer walks than he has strikeouts on the season.

2. Michael Soroka

St. Louis Cardinals v Atlanta Braves
St. Louis Cardinals v Atlanta Braves / Kevin D. Liles/Atlanta Braves/GettyImages

We all had so much hope for Michael Soroka prior to this season. Obviously, we had premature optimism. It wasn't fair to have the sort of expectations we had on Soroka this spring. We were hopeful that Soroka could return to his ace-like form from 2019, but the guy has been through an awful lot.

Soroka is on the list just based on the fact that we all really want him to succeed. I believe we will and this year was a valuable step in the right direction for Soroka. Mike made his big debut on May 29 and stuck around for another start on June 4. He gave up nine earned runs while walking six over 9.2 innings.

In the month of August, Soroka won the International League Pitcher of the Month for Gwinnett. Optimism was building. The award was announced the same day Soroka was called up to make a start on September 5th against the Cardinals. On the heels of the fantastic month of August, our optimism ran too high once again.

Soroka allowed five earned runs and left the game after three innings with numbness in his fingers. The game marked the end of Soroka's season due to inflammation. While there are plenty of reasons for optimism in 2024, there's no doubt everyone was disappointed we didn't get to see prime Soroka return to the mound. The disappointment comes from love.

1. Sean Murphy

Philadelphia Phillies v Atlanta Braves
Philadelphia Phillies v Atlanta Braves / Kevin D. Liles/Atlanta Braves/GettyImages

Sean Murphy looked like an MVP candidate in the early part of the season. A quick glance at his season-long numbers would lead you to believe I must be mistaken by listing him as our number one most disappointing player in the second half. He currently has a .854 OPS with an outstanding .370 OBP.

Murphy's good season numbers are propped up by his incredible first half. Murphy hit .306 with a .999 OPS prior to the All-Star break. Like I said, he was in that MVP conversation. He smashed 17 homers with 55 RBI en route to his first All-Star selection.

Since the break, Murphy has just three homers. His batting average is just .168 and his slugging percentage is a lowly .272. Prior to the break, his sOPS+ was 171. Since then, it's just 63. His ability to draw walks is keeping him from Kevin Pillar territory. Side note, he also gets hit by a ton of pitches. Did you know Murphy has been hit by more pitches (18) than he has grounded into double plays (17)? Well, now you can just say you knew that since you read it.

There's no doubt that Murph has been a very disappointing bat since the All-Star break. Murph's bat is so cold that Snit has recently dropped him all the way to 8th in the lineup. Early in the season, f you would have told me that Sean Murphy would be hitting 8th later on it would have seemed unfathomable.

Both catchers have gone cold in the second half. Hopefully, they can get their swings right in time for the postseason.

8 Reasons Acuna Will Win MVP Over Betts
Could Ohtani's Injury Open Door For Braves to Sign Him in 2024?
Explaining Why Acuna Ranks in Bottom 5% in OAA