Last Week in Atlanta – Week 23

Despite a .500 week against a couple of struggling teams, the Braves are now just gearing up for the playoffs – they sit 15 games up in the NL East and look certain to be the NL’s top seed.

Overall Record: 93-49, 1st place in NL East

Record this week: 3-3

Best moment of the week:

While the play on the field was good and worthy of filling this slot in a few different ways, i’d instead like to talk about Andruw Jones’s number being retired on Saturday.

Andruw Jones was a center fielder who had it all – elite at the plate and in the field. His ten-year stretch from 1997 to 2007 was one of the highest career peaks in MLB history – he accumulated ten straight Gold Gloves in center field, hit 363 home runs, never missed more than nine games in a season, and slashed .263/.343/.498 with an OPS+ of 114 while playing through the steroid era and simultaneously being the best defender on the planet. Before age 30, he had accumulated 61 bWAR – the only players to have more than that and not be in the Hall of Fame are Alex Rodriguez and Barry Bonds (for steroid reasons), and Mike Trout and Albert Pujols – surefire Hall of Famers who just aren’t eligible yet.

He played for five more years, bouncing around between the Dodgers, Rangers, White Sox and Yankees. His fielding fell off a cliff, and he slashed just .210/.316/.424 in those five years after and accumulated just 1.7 WAR.

There’s no doubt his greatest years came as a Brave, and in addition to his number being retired in Atlanta, he’s also eligible for the Hall of Fame. His candidacy is a study in the importance of longevity – is it enough to have one of the most dominant ten-year stretches in baseball history if you end up doing nothing else? I’d argue that you can’t tell the story of baseball without the Curaçao Kid. From 1997 to 2007, about 70% of the Earth was covered by water. The other 30% was covered by Andruw Jones.

His number retirement also comes at an opportune moment; Andruw holds the Braves record for home runs in a season, at 51. However, with that mark set to be eclipsed by Matt Olson, it’s a perfect time to make sure Andruw’s achievements don’t get forgotten. Thanks for everything Andruw!

Worst moment of the week:

For me, the worst moment was seeing Michael Soroka have to come out of the game and get shut down for the season with forearm issues. I’ve been rooting hard for the Maple Maddux to get back to his scintillating 2019 after a set of awful injuries, but his time might now have run out with the Braves. It’s hard to know if they’ll keep him on for another year, or if another team will be more willing to take the risk on a very high-upside pitcher.

Player of the week:

Matt Olson has been nigh-on unstoppable this week. Not just content with extending his lead atop the the major league home run standings – he now, in all likelihood, has that title wrapped up – he also collected another 12 more total hits to give him a .546/.630/1.136 slash line for the week. He also leads the majors in RBI and slugging, and with a couple of weeks left to further pad his stats we might be looking at an all-time season from the league’s second most handsome man.

Lest we forget that baseball superhero Ronald Acuña Jr. is – after a similarly monstrous week – only five home runs shy (editor’s note – four!) of the league’s first 40/40 season since Alfonso Soriano in 2006. Let’s hope he finds his power to cap off a historic season with a historic stat.

WTF moment of the week:

As a part-time Cubs fan, I’m happy to take any opportunity to highlight poor play from the Cardinals, so here’s Adam Wainwright throwing possibly the worst first pitch of all time. 85mph, no movement, right down the middle to a player having one of the greatest seasons of all time. WTF are you doing?

Optimism tracker:

9/10. There were a couple of soft losses in there but the focus is less on the individual games now, and more on being ready for the postseason. The Braves train has no brakes, baby.

What’s on next week?

The Braves are now in a two-week stretch of NL East games, starting with a four-game set against the Phillies in the City of Brotherly Love, followed by three games against the Marlins in Miami. The marquee matchup seems to be Tuesday’s game, where Max Fried squares off against Zack Wheeler.

UK friendly games:

Saturday 16 September @ Marlins (9:10pm), Sunday 17 September @ Marlins (6:40pm)

Featured image of Andruw Jones and Matt Olson by Grant McAuley on X.

Charlie Deeks is the Atlanta Braves correspondent on Bat Flips and Nerds. Follow him on Twitter @Omashaft!

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