5 players in the NL East who could derail the Braves playoff chances

We have always been taught that one player cannot win or lose a contest for a team. It sure doesn’t feel that way when these guys play the Braves.

Championship Series - Philadelphia Phillies v Arizona Diamondbacks - Game Seven
Championship Series - Philadelphia Phillies v Arizona Diamondbacks - Game Seven / Elsa/GettyImages
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A lesson that every baseball player is taught in Little League is the fact that one player cannot win or lose a ballgame for his team. However, some players seem to be the key to success for their respective squads when facing the Atlanta Braves

As we get closer to 2024, we thought it would be good to take a look at five different players in the NL East who could cause some issues for the Braves. If these players perform well, it could result in more wins for their teams, meaning more of a battle for Atlanta playing baseball in October. 

Championship Series - Philadelphia Phillies v Arizona Diamondbacks - Game Five
Championship Series - Philadelphia Phillies v Arizona Diamondbacks - Game Five / Sean M. Haffey/GettyImages

Trea Turner

2024 Zips DC projections: .290 average, 25 HR, 88 RBI, and 28 stolen bases

Trea Turner got off to a horrific start with the Philadelphia Phillies after he signed a massive contract. However, in the middle of his struggles, the Phillies faithful decided to give him a standing ovation in the middle of a slump to show their support and he immediately returned to form. 

Turner playing at his full potential takes the Phillies to another level. In case you forgot, Philadelphia has eliminated the Braves from the playoffs the last two seasons. A healthy, MVP-caliber Turner could help Philadelphia win the division and keep the Braves from even making the playoffs.

Even during his time in Washington, Turner seems to always bring his best when playing against Atlanta. He has faced the Braves in 111 games since debuting in 2015 and carries a line of .305/.352/.512 through 501 plate appearances. His 142 hits against Atlanta include 27 doubles, 6 triples, 19 home runs, and 58 runs batted in.

Turner only batted .204 against the Braves during the 2023 regular season over 19 games played but that changed during the NLDS. He had a .471 average with 8 hits including 2 doubles, 2 homers, and 2 RBI. When the games counted, Turner found a way to get things done. Will he be great against Atlanta in 2024? His past performance points to that being likely.

Championship Series - Philadelphia Phillies v Arizona Diamondbacks - Game Seven
Championship Series - Philadelphia Phillies v Arizona Diamondbacks - Game Seven / Elsa/GettyImages

Bryce Harper

2024 projections (ZiPS DC): .281 average, 30 HR, 97 RBI, and 13 stolen bases

Bryce Harper is entering his 13th season in Major League Baseball. That may be hard to believe as he is just 31 years young but that is the case. Injuries have done a number on Harper in the last few seasons. However, he has now found a home at first base and in the DH position which just may lead to more production. 

Ever since he made his MLB debut with the Washington Nationals, Harper has been a certified “Braves killer.” In 183 games against Atlanta, Harper is a .263 hitter with 44 HR, 106 RBI, and 21 stolen bases. Unfortunately, we can expect more of the same from Harper in 2024. 

Atlanta fans have never really had a lot of love for Harper as their relationship didn't start off on a good note. Things have slowly gotten better as he has matured as a person and player but the boos will still rain down from Truist Park when he steps to the plate. Things will likely be a little tense in 2024 as Orlando Arcia's comments about Harper's baserunning blunder during the NLDS still linger.

Zack Wheeler

2024 projections Zips DC: (12-8), 3.61 ERA, 3.42 FIP, 5.1 fWAR

Wheeler is the third and final Philadelphia Phillie on this list. He seems to have found his stride on the mound in 2023 going 13-6 with a 3.61 ERA last season, finishing 6th in the Cy Young Award voting for the NL. 

Every time Wheeler faces the Braves he has some extra motivation as he is from the heart of Braves country (Smyrna, GA). He has faced the Braves 27 times in his career. He is 12-7 with a 3.18 ERA and Braves’ hitters have a combined average of .238 against Wheeler. We can keep our fingers crossed that the Braves miss him in a series or two against Philadelphia but that won’t be likely. 

Pete Alonso

Fangraphs projections Zips DC: .245 average, 38 home runs, 115 RBIs. 

It is no secret that the New York Mets are in rebuilding mode. However, Pete Alonso remains one of MLB’s premiere power threats. Against the Braves in his career, Alonso is a .236 hitter with 13 homers and 49 runs batted in across 75 games. This pace for a 162 season would be 28 homers and 106 RBIs. The Mets may not have much to play for in 2024 so they will try to play spoiler to the Braves.

If the Mets want any chance at making noise next season they will not only need a big year from Alonso, but a bunch of bounce back years from his supporting cast.

Jazz Chisholm Jr. 

Fangraphs projections Zips DC: .249 average, 26 home runs, 83 RBIs and 28 stolen bases. 

Much like the Mets, the Miami Marlins are not expected to be a threat in the NL East. However, they do have a group of young talented players such as Jazz Chisholm Jr. However, Jazz has never been able to put together a fully healthy season. If showcases better durability, he has all the tools to become a five WAR player in this league.

Chisholm is the spark plug to the Miami Marlins. He can provide his team with instant offense to help produce runs, and the defensive switch to center field last year was a success. Against the Braves so far in his career (42 games played), Chisholm is a .252 hitter with 9 home runs, 26 RBIs and 12 stolen bases. 

At the end of the day all five of these players have talent and carry their respective team for prolonged periods of time. However, to overtake the talented Braves squad, it's going to require a full team effort.

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