On paper (or phone screens), the Atlanta Braves look like they could be 100-win team in 2023. Without getting into defense, starting pitching, or the elite bullpen, we will just compare the Braves’ lineup to the other favorites to win the World Series, according to ESPN.
ESPN just released their season rankings and playoff odds article and it got us thinking about how good the Atlanta Braves look on paper. According to ESPN, the Braves have the third-highest odds to win the World Series, behind the Astros and Padres. In order to help visualize things, here’s a list of the top five contenders on ESPN.
- Houston Astros
- San Diego Padres
- Atlanta Braves
- New York Yankees
- Los Angeles Dodgers
Many Braves’ fans were unsure about the lack of moves the Braves made this offseason. For the second year in a row, the team watched their leader and captain walk away in free agency. The Braves made one big splash by bringing in catcher Sean Murphy in a trade that cost them William Contrereas, Kyle Muller, and a few others.
There was sentiment of some disappointment at the lack of a big splash this offseason but it’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of the hot stove. The Braves were already in a fantastic place. AA has locked up so much young talent that the need for a big move wasn’t there.
Atlanta Braves 2023 Projected Lineup w/ Career OPS+
- RF, Ronald Acuna Jr. – 133 OPS+
- 1B, Matt Olson – 131 OPS+
- 3B, Austin Riley – 123 OPS+
- C, Sean Murphy – 114 OPS+
- CF, Michael Harris II – 135 OPS+
- 2B, Ozzie Albies – 106 OPS+
- DH, Marcell Ozuna – 112 OPS+
- LF, Eddie Rosario – 105 OPS+
- SS, Orlando Arcia – 75 OPS+
One guy has a career OPS+ below 100. That’s one guy who has a career OPS below league average! Don’t forget Travis d’Arnaud sharing time with Murphy and possibly slotting into the DH position, depending on how things go there.
Atlanta Braves Could Run Wild in 2023
The Atlanta Braves are set up to take full advantage of the new pickoff rules and the bigger bases. Steals should go up and there are plenty of players on the Braves who could light the basepaths aflame. We’ve covered this a few different ways already. Here use math from the Minor League sample size to project how many steals Acuna Jr. will have in 2023. Recently, Alan Carpenter wrote about how the Braves might take full advantage of these rule changes by finding the forgotten weapon, stolen bases.
How Braves Lineup Compares to Other World Series Contenders in 2023
We know the Braves are absolutely stacked. Acuna Jr., Albies, and Harris II could all break 30 steals this year. We know the team’s career OPS+ is through the roof. How does this team stack up next to some of the other top contenders?
5. Los Angeles Dodgers 2023 Projected Lineup w/ Career OPS+
- Mookie Betts – 136 OPS+
- Freddie Freeman – 152 OPS+
- Will Smith – 120 OPS+
- Max Muncy – 122 OPS+
- J.D. Martinez – 117 OPS+
- David Peralta – 111 OPS+
- Trayce Thompson – 99 OPS+
- Miguel Vargas – 25 OPS+
- Miguel Rojas – 85 OPS+
The Dodgers are looking a little thin. The top two hitters are superstars and potential future Hall of Famers. Will Smith is an outstanding offensive catcher. The rest of this lineup is full of question marks for a team that is supposed to contend for a World Series. Muncy’s last three seasons resulted in the following OPS+ numbers: 95, 135, 96. His ups and downs are extreme and can sometimes create holes in the lineup. The Dodgers need consistency from him this season with the lack of depth in this lineup.
4. New York Yankees 2023 Projected Lineup w/ Career OPS+
- DJ LeMahieu – 102 OPS+
- Aaron Judge – 163 OPS+ (Insane)
- Anthony Rizzo – 127 OPS+
- Giancarlo Stanton – 141 OPS+
- Gleyber Torres – 114 OPS+
- Josh Donaldson – 131 OPS+
- Aaron Hicks – 96 OPS+
- Jose Trevino – 77 OPS+
- Anthony Volpe – N/A
The Yankees are really top heavy. Stanton’s 113 OPS+ last season was the lowest of his career. Josh Donaldson’s career OPS+ represents what he used to be. The former AL MVP posted a 94 OPS+ last season, meaning his OPS was six percent less than league average in his age-37 season.
3. San Diego Padres 2023 Projected Lineup w/ Career OPS+
- Xander Bogaerts – 117 OPS+
- Juan Soto – 157 OPS+ (His 149 OPS+ was a down year for Soto!)
- Manny Machado – 126 OPS+
- Jake Cronenworth – 118 OPS+
- Matt Carpenter – 124 OPS+
- Ha-seong Kim – 95 OPS+
- Trent Grisham – 99 OPS+
- Austin Nola – 106 OPS+
- David Dahl – 95 OPS+
This team has some monsters in the top three. Soto’s career OPS+ is insane. The back half of this lineup gets a little iffy with a bunch of guys who are below average, except for Nola. However, Nola has always been a part-time player. Prior to last season he had never played in more than 79 games. He also posted his two best offensive seasons in his first two years in the league, posting a 120 OPS+ in 127 games over those first two years. Since then (two seasons) Nola has a 95 OPS+. This lineup definitely does not have the depth the Atlanta Braves have.
1. Houston Astros 2023 Projected Lineup w/ Career OPS+
- Jeremy Pena – 101 OPS+
- Kyle Tucker – 129 OPS+
- Alex Bregman – 137 OPS+
- Yordan Alvarez – 163 OPS+ (Tied with Judge)
- Jose Abreu – 134 OPS+
- David Hensley – 29 Career ABs
- Chas McCormick – 109 OPS+
- Jake Meyers – 87 OPS+
- Martin Maldonado – 72 OPS+
The Braves defintely have the depth when it comes to above-average OPS hitters. The Astros have a couple of sore spots at the end and some unproven commodoties in the back half. They look really good, but none of these teams have a lineup as solid as the Braves.
How do you think the rest of the roster stacks up. Do you think the Braves should be the favorites to win the World Series?
Let us know in the comments!