Given how the month of April has gone the last couple of seasons for the Atlanta Braves, fans couldn’t really ask for much more than what we saw during the 2023 seasons first week of action. A 6-1 start and three game lead in the division is certainly a more encouraging start than Braves fans are used to. The Braves, to the surprise of no one, are flexing their muscles early and showcasing why this roster stacks up with any other team in baseball. Within the winning baseball there has been quite a few details that should excite Braves fans for the rest of the season.
1. Sean Murphy’s pop time
As the season goes on, I imagine many of Braves fans will fall in love with Sean Murphy. While he can more than hold his own at the plate, it is his defense that will have Braves country smiling. Not only does Murphy own an elite pop time, he accompanies that with a cannon of an arm behind the plate, truly helping neutralize the opposing teams aggressiveness on the basepaths. We are already loving the results.
2. Matt Olson’s hard hit percentage
Matt Olson has carried over his incredible work in spring training. An early slash line of .333/.394/.767 speaks to that. Olson has already hit three homers, but even when he’s not hitting the ball out of the ballpark, he is hitting it hard. In fact, according to fangraphs, his 64.3% hard hit percentage is the second highest in baseball among qualified hitters.
3. Spencer Strider’s strikeout reactions
Our mustached flamethrower can fill it up in the strikeout department. Luckily for us, that means no shortage of 360 degree twirls, hops, and fist pumps after Strider claims another victim. As of now Strider’s 39.1% strikeout percentage ranks sixth among qualified pitchers in MLB.
4. Michael Harris II’s defense
The reigning NL rookie of the year has picked right up where he left off last season. Not even a week into the season and Harris has left us with one of the early catch of the year candidates. Early numbers from baseball savant has Harris in the 81st percentile in OAA.
5. All of Ronald’s tools
The Braves young superstar sure seems to be a man on a mission to start 2023. Acuña Jr. is in the 99th percentile for max exit velocity and in the 96th percentile for sprint speed. Whether it be his power, speed, plate discipline, or even his arm strength, everything that makes Ronald Acuña Jr. the amazing baseball talent that he is has been on display so far. If the Braves continue to get this type of production from a healthy Ronald, he could very well be on his way to an MVP award.
6. A dominant road trip and a walk-off home opener
Winning baseball is fun baseball. And the Braves have been having a ton of fun to start the year. A series win against one of the worst rosters in the NL in the Washington Nationals isn’t a huge accomplishment, but when you sweep the favorites to win the NL Central on the road without throwing one of your top three pitchers, that is impressive. Cap off the great road trip with a thrilling home opener that let the home fans see a walk-off win, that is an opening week you would be hard pressed to have scripted better.