In lieu of an article last week, today’s piece covers the last two weeks – while the Braves have had the division effectively sewn up for a while, we’ve still got a lot to cover.
Overall Record: 100-56, 1st place in NL East
Record in the last two weeks: 7-7
In almost 150 years of Major League Baseball, it’s rare to see something that hasn’t happened before. After a piss missile against the Washington Nationals on Friday, Ronald Acuña Jr. has secured his historic 40/40 home run and stolen base season – and his 40/50, and his 40/60.
His combination of speed and power is really unlike anything we’ve seen – if you can outhit and outsteal the likes of Barry Bonds, who just scraped a 42/40 in 1996 and Alex Rodriguez, who managed a 42/46 in 1998 – and you can do it without steroids! – you’re in good company. After the fact, he said:
“It’s pretty incredible, just to think of how many players have played in the big leagues, and my name’s alone”.
He’s not wrong – it is incredible.
It’s even more clear than before that the Braves are taking it easy, and trying to head into the playoffs rested and fresh. However, that’s not gone too well so far – both Max Fried and Charlie Morton have gone on the 15-day IL, meaning they won’t pitch again until the playoffs. Max has a small blister on the finger, and this is more of a precautionary move – but Charlie’s injury seems to be more serious, and is likely to miss the NLDS. Thankfully, Bryce Elder will slip into the third starting spot, and – in an ideal world – the Braves might only need three games to get through that series.
Once again, it’s unfair to give it to anyone except for Ronnie. Instead of just looking at the last couple of weeks, it’s great to highlight here just how much of a rampage he’s been on since it was thought that he might have competition in Mookie Betts for the NL MVP. Jeff Passan gives a good breakdown here, and inspires a new meme in the Braves community:
While I absolutely am ‘ceaselessly reciting’ that a 40-70 season would be deserving of NL MVP on its own, Passan’s point hinges on the fact they’re similar offensively and Betts shows additional positional flexibility, given his move from right field to second base mid-season. Having said this, given that a lot of MVP voters are simple creatures, i’ll just add this table here to illustrate why i think Ronnie has the MVP in the bag:
Speaking of Barry Bonds, it’s not just him that hits broken-bat home runs. Despite a shaky couple of weeks, Sean Murphy uncorked a dinger out to left field while shattering his bat in the process.
8/10. While i’m a little nervous given the spate of injuries and shaky results, this is still a 100-win team. I’m still excited for the playoffs, which honestly feels weird.
What’s on next week?
The final six games of the season see visits from the Chicago Cubs from Tuesday to Thursday and the Washington Nationals from Friday to Sunday. Given the Cubs are still in the wildcard chase those games will be a good watch – i’ll be looking out for Cubs ace Justin Steele going against Bryce Elder on Tuesday.
UK friendly games:
Sunday October 1 v Nationals (8:05pm)
Featured image of Ronald Acuña Jr by ESPN on X.
Charlie Deeks is the Atlanta Braves correspondent on Bat Flips and Nerds. Follow him on Twitter @Omashaft!