Apr
21
2021

Braves Show Early Struggles; Acuna For NL MVP?

Braves Country held its breath when Acuna exited against Chicago with an abdominal injury. The superstar outfielder has put the struggling team on his back in the early weeks of the 2021 season. Following Ronald’s injury scare, it’s important to reflect on the impact he’s had in the early days of the 2021 season.

Ronald Acuna Jr. has come out of the gates red-hot. Campaigning early for NL MVP, Acuna has a batting average of .433 with 7 home runs. The 23-year-old superstar has also tallied 20 runs and 16 RBIs. He’s the best player on the planet right now, and the Braves know it.

He brings a swagger to the plate that energizes the crowd and the dugout, and his fielding is excellent.

Despite Acuna’s monumental success, the Atlanta Braves (7-10) are off to a rocky start. With expectations amongst fans and analysts higher than ever, the Braves are currently 4th in the NL East. Winning this year for Hank Aaron would be special, but they need to kick it in high gear soon to pull it off.

Pitching

Pitching has been the Braves’ Achilles Heel this year. Our starting pitchers are dealing with multiple injuries, including young star Mike Soroka is still on IL (Achilles.) Other notable injuries include Max Fried, Drew Smyly, Sean Newcomb, and Chris Martin. Stats for Atlanta’s starting pitchers are poor across the board.

After his breakout year last season, Max Fried’s performance is abysmal to start the ’21 season. Currently on 10-day IL (hamstring), Fried has allowed 23 hits, 15 runs, a WHIP of 2.545, and an ERA of 11.45. Given the small sample size (three games), Fried should get in a groove and get these numbers back down to earth after recovering from a strained hamstring.

Morton has been the Braves’ best pitcher so far but has not been spectacular by any means. Morton has allowed 9 runs and a home run in 17 innings pitched.

As pitchers come off IL, quality pitching will return. It’s not time for Braves fans to panic (yet.)

Batting

Low BAs across the board have shown early struggles from the Braves on offense. We have seen the Braves’ batting improve with every series. The other night, the Braves hit 5 home runs to beat the Cubs, including a grand slam from Guillermo Heredia.

Batting averages have drastically improved within the last 7 days. Former NL MVP Freddie Freeman’s batting average in the past 7 days has been .308 compared to .232 on the year. Marcell Ozuna has gone from .230 on the year to .345 this week. We are seeing this type of improvement from nearly every batter when sampling recent games.

If the Braves can keep improving their hitting and get their starting pitchers healthy, you are looking at the 2022 world champs.

Momentum

The Braves’ come-from-behind win against the Marlins ended their slump. Momentum has clearly shifted in their favor, winning the past series against the Cubs. Losing their first game against the Yankees on Sunday night, they look to inch their way back to .500 this week.