5 surprises from the Atlanta Braves early in the 2023 season
By Eric Cole
All things considered, the Atlanta Braves find themselves in a really good spot through the early portion of the 2023 schedule. They have a healthy lead in the National League East (with some special thanks to the rest of the division being below .500 going into games on 5/16) and there are a lot of things going right and going to plan.
We knew this Braves team was going to be good. There are just too many talented players on the roster for them to not be good. There are some guys on the roster whose performances have been exactly what we thought they would be (or at least what they should be).
However, that doesn't mean that there haven't been some surprises and frankly, that is exactly how things should be. We will always try to do our best to predict what is going to happen, but one of the best parts of baseball is when the unexpected happens and seeing how it impacts the season. Below are six of the biggest surprises from the Braves during the early part of the 2023 season.
Orlando Arcia has been awesome
Look, we were all surprised when Orlando Arcia ended up winning the starting shortstop spot over Vaughn Grissom and Braden Shewmake. Vaughn Grisssom seemingly had the inside track thanks to a mostly successful rookie campaign and Braden Shewmake looked like a much improved player in spring training.
Instead, the Braves bet on Arcia and they have looked like geniuses in doing so. When he has been on the field, Arcia has been a key cog in the offense while being a fantastic defender at short. When Arcia got hurt and Grissom was forced into action, he struggled to impact the ball at the plate and really, really struggled in the field. Orlando has just been great and we are happy to have been wrong here.
AJ Minter has not been awesome
This one is a bummer because AJ Minter has been so good for a long time with the Braves. We took a look a few days ago at what has been plaguing AJ this season and the short version is that several small things combined with some bad luck has led to a really, really rough stretch for him.
And it is a real shame that folks have turned on Minter so quickly, because he has been such an important part of the team's success the last few years. Maybe the pitch clock has given him problems or maybe he is tipping his pitches or maybe he just a little bit off, but no one thought that he would be the bullpen's biggest problem before the season started and he kinda is right now.