The Atlanta Braves are off to a solid 6-3 start to the season, winning two of their first three series. There have been some surprises, expectations being met, and expectations being exceeded.
Today we meander through the stats to find some juicy nuggets to shine a spotlight on the things we see on the field.
Atlanta Braves: Hard-Hit Balls Leaders Through Nine Games
Five Braves players have double-digit hard-hit balls this season. Matt Olson and Ronald Acuna Jr. are on the list, which should come as no surprise. Travis d’Arnaud is another one, whom we predicted to be a late-round fantasy sleeper this year despite the arrival of Sean Murphy. Michael Harris II has picked up where left off after his Rookie of the Year campaign, with over 61% of his batted balls being hard hits.
If you’ve been watching, the fifth player on the list won’t shock you. However, if I had told you the list would look this way in spring training, you may have been shocked then.
Atlanta Braves Hard-Hit Balls Leaders
- Orlando Arcia – 14
- Ronald Acuna Jr. – 14
- Matt Olson – 13
- Travis d’Arnaud – 12
- Michael Harris II – 11
Atlanta Braves: Matt Olson’s Crazy Barrel Rate
Matt Olson leads the Braves by a wide margin, barreling up 27.3% of his batted balls. Of his 22 batted balls he has six barrels and (as we mentioned above) 13 hard hits. As a result, Olson is batting .361 with a .750 SLG thus far. After the spring he had, you have to wonder when he will come back down to Earth. Enjoy the ride!
Orlando Arcia Leads Atlanta Braves in Ultimate Zone Rating
We knew Orlando Arcia provided the most steady, veteran option at short. We knew he had a good enough glove, a very strong arm, and a below-average bat that was above-average in 2022. Not only has Arcia excelled with the bat (beyond his walkoff single against the Padres), but he has been very good on the defensive side of the ball.
According to Fangraphs, UZR rating is defined as “the number of runs above or below average a fielder is in both range runs, outfield arm runs, double play runs and error runs combined.”
Although it’s been a small sample size, Arcia is on pace to post 23.7 more saved runs than the average fielder at his position when considering range runs, arm runs, double play runs, and error runs.
Granted: He has a negative OAA and zero DRS… Just trust your eyeballs.
Keep in mind, to be an average major-league shortstop is to be incredibly good. This number will fluctuate as the sample size increases, but my goodness, what a start for Arcia! Even though Vaughn Grissom is tearing it up in Triple-A right now, nobody is clamoring for the Braves to call him up. Cheers to Arcia thus far. We wish him continued success.
Atlanta Braves’ Matt Olson’s WAR is Better Than Freeman’s
Matt Olson is currently seventh in all of baseball in fWAR with 0.7. That is best on the Braves and WAAAAAAYYYYY better than Freddie Freeman‘s 0.5, tied for 18th.
On a side note, former Atlanta Braves outfielder Adam Duvall is the only player in all of baseball with an fWAR higher than 1.0. Duvall’s 1.1 is a result of him taking a quick liking to Fenway Park as he is setting all kinds of records over there. Duvall is currently on pace for 284 RBI this season.
Marcell Ozuna Has Been Patiently Impatient
Marcell Ozuna has two hits on the season, both of them left the park. He has struck out 32% of his PAs and is walking over 14% of the time. At times he looks extremely undisciplined and swings at anything and some at-bats he appears to be very patient and looking for his pitch. It really feels like there’s an internal battle similar to that of Two-Face from Batman. I hope the good side wins.
Ronald Acuna Jr. is Faster This Year
After finishing 105th in the league in average sprint speed, Acuna Jr. is currently ninth among players with at least 10 attempts. In 2022 he averaged 28.5 feet per second while in 2023 he’s averaging 28.9 feet per second. Acuna currenlty leads the NL in steals with four.
Matt Olson Has Probably Only Earned One Extra Hit Due to Elimnation of the Shift
As great as Olson’s stats look so far, you would think that the elimination fo the shift has played a significant part of this. It has not. Looking at his spray chart, Olson has likely only earned one extra hit from the elimination of the shift. The play came last night when Ha-Seong Kim, playing shortstop for the Padres, had to run and slide to try and get to a grounder on the second-base side of the bag. He booted the ball off his foot and Olson got a hit.
We didn’t even get into pitching and there are plenty of other stats to look at. These were just a few. I am out of time for the day and must sign off. Post your interesting statistics in the comments below.