Can Braves have an All-Star infield again?

Braves second baseman Ozzie Albies (from left), first baseman Matt Olson and third baseman Austin Riley chat as they warm up during spring training workouts at CoolToday Park, Monday, February, 19, 2024, in North Port, Florida. (Hyosub Shin /



Braves second baseman Ozzie Albies (from left), first baseman Matt Olson and third baseman Austin Riley chat as they warm up during spring training workouts at CoolToday Park, Monday, February, 19, 2024, in North Port, Florida. (Hyosub Shin /

NORTH PORT, Fla. — One of the finer moments of the Braves’ 2023 season occurred during an exhibition in Seattle; a fifth inning that exquisitely showed a primary reason the Braves rolled through the regular season to 104 victories.

The Braves didn’t just bring their entire infield to the All-Star game. The group even played an inning together, assembling for the National League in a scoreless inning of the midsummer classic.

First baseman Matt Olson. Second baseman Ozzie Albies. Shortstop Orlando Arcia. Third baseman Austin Riley. All All-Star infielders for a team that ultimately won 104 games.

Can they do it again?

“We’ve got the same guys out there, so why not?” Riley said. “Guys are ready, guys are prepared. We just have to one, stay healthy, and two, just play our game.”

Starting pitcher Max Fried, who’s seen this iteration of the infield take form over several years’ time:

“Anything’s possible (as to whether they can all make the All-Star game again). We’ve got a lot of talented guys. You’ve got Austin, Ozzie, Matt and Orlando. You saw what everyone was capable of doing. A lot of these guys have done it year in and year out. With this team, nothing surprises me anymore.”

The Braves’ infield has maintained success despite losing two pillars, first baseman Freddie Freeman and shortstop Dansby Swanson, since the championship 2021 season. While they left, the renowned work ethic they helped establish remains.

“Work ethic” is considered a baseline trait for any athlete to become great. So to have an All-Star unit, with the potential to achieve such again, is a testament to their diligence.

“The day in, day out and how consistent they are in their work,” manager Brian Snitker said. “I tell them every year, I don’t ever have to tell them I worry about the work they’ll get in. They all do. More times than not, we’re backing them off because they stay out there all day long and work. It’s a talented group. It’s a successful group. They enjoy playing.”


Riley is a back-to-back All-Star, putting him on pace to be among the franchise’s best third basemen (that’s a rich history, too, featuring Hall of Famers Chipper Jones and Eddie Mathews). He, the Cardinals’ Nolan Arenado and the Padres’ Manny Machado again will be the NL’s headlining third basemen.

Olson had just made his first All-Star appearance for the Braves during a season in which he launched a franchise-record 54 homers and played in every game. It’s a safe bet that it won’t be his final time representing the Braves in the event. He and the man he replaced, Freeman, stand alone as the senior circuit’s most well-rounded first basemen entering the season.

Albies is one of MLB’s more decorated second basemen. The 27-year-old is a three-time All-Star with two 30-homer, 100-RBI seasons to his name (a rarity at his position). He’s excelled at a time when second base isn’t a strong suit across baseball. He’s also the longest-tenured Brave, having debuted in July 2017.

That takes us to the surprise of the bunch. There were modest expectations for Arcia entering last season. He replaced Swanson, who had left as a free agent, after earning the job in spring training. Months later, he was elected the NL’s starting shortstop.

“I wouldn’t say that I was surprised by his ability, but knowing he’d gone without playing every day for a couple years the way he did, then be able to step right into it and have the impact that he had, and the success he had, it’s more impressive than surprising,” Fried said. “He really took it head on, and he wanted to be out there every single day. He did. He proved it. He’s unbelievable with the glove, and he puts together some really competitive at-bats. When you have those two things, it’s a good recipe for success.”

Arcia, once a top prospect with the Brewers, finally fulfilled his promise. He hit .264 with a .741 OPS, blasting 17 homers to go with 25 doubles and 65 RBIs. He achieved such while playing strong defense, an element the team values immensely at his position (and perhaps was Swanson’s greatest strength). Arcia said his individual goal is to win a Gold Glove.

Braves teammates expressed confidence that Arcia can come close to replicating his numbers. Riley’s justification came from his own experience. He cited how much more comfortable he felt after manning third on a daily basis – lest we forget, Riley came to the majors as a left fielder because of Josh Donaldson’s presence – and he felt Arcia playing shortstop every day, as opposed to being a bench contributor, was the difference.

“When you’re playing every day, you can become better and do great things,” Albies said, echoing Riley’s sentiment. “That’s the key to this game. The more you play, the more you learn and the better you get. That’s what he showed as soon as he played more.”

Even if it doesn’t come with formal All-Star acknowledgement, the Braves look well-positioned to boast arguably baseball’s best infield again.

“We work hard,” Albies said. “We don’t accomplish things just by sitting in the clubhouse and trying to do it without working. We work. And when you work hard, good things happen.”