We have reached the mid season break in 2023, and the Atlanta Braves sit atop the baseball mountain. Owning the best record in MLB requires some production from numerous guys on the roster.
Yesterday we handed out team grades for each category, but today we are going to hand out individual accolades to the best first half performers.
Biggest surprise: Orlando Arcia
Coming into spring training, the Braves had two position battles on their radars. One of those was the starting shortstop role after the department of Dansby Swanson in free agency. The competition for the role featured young Vaughn Grissom, Orlando Arcia, and we even heard Braden Shewmake’s name thrown into the ring late spring.
Many thought it was Grissom’s job to lose during the battle. He was even having a great spring, but to the shock of many the Braves broke camp with Arcia as the guy at short. They even gave him a three-year extension before the season started.
The move has only fed more into the thought that AA is playing chess, while the rest of the league plays checkers. Arcia has been steady with the glove all season and hit since the first pitch of the season. He missed some time with a wrist injury, but has still produced a 1.9 fWAR on the year. I’m sure the Braves would have been happy for Arcia to be a solid fielder and flirt with league average offensive production. Instead they got this:
- .294/.345/.424 slash line
- .337 wOBA (career high)
- 108 wRC+ (career high)
- 94th percentile in Outs Above Average (OAA)
Those good numbers made Orlando Arcia the starting shortstop for the NL All-Star team. The production he has provided at the bottom of the lineup is a big reason for the success of the offense. There is truly no weak spots in the lineup. Arcia did cool off a bit at the end of July, but every time you think he’s about to come back to earth offensively he has a three-hit game.
(Honorable mention to Michael Tonkin, who has been an excellent innings eater for the bullpen, and has been another quality find by AA).