Are the 2022 Braves better on paper than the team that won the World Series?
It looks like it. Atlanta has dominated since the start of June. And it doesn’t seem like a simple case of getting hot. No, the Braves have sustained it.
They are just a really good team.
“From top to bottom,” Kenley Jansen said. “Defense, offense, starting pitching, bullpen. We got it all. We just got to hope we stay healthy and keep playing the way we’re playing, and things are going to be great for us.”
They lost Freddie Freeman but replaced him with Matt Olson. They added one of the game’s top closers in Jansen. They signed Collin McHugh for bullpen depth.
2. Over the last few seasons, the Braves have gained valuable postseason experience.
Over his career, Jansen has, too. The Dodgers, his former team, are perennial contenders. He knows what it takes for teams to perform consistently down the stretch.
“One at a time,” Jansen said. “Understand that every year’s not going to be the same, but whenever we have a chance to cut the lead down – like right now we’re a few games back from first place – we got to take advantage of those. Every inning counts now and every game’s going to count in the second half, so I’m looking forward to that.”
Asked what gives him the most confidence about this group, Olson said: “Just the ability to win different ways. We don’t count on starters to go and put up a zero every night, hand it off to the bullpen (for a) zero. We don’t count on the lineup to come out and score 10. We find different ways to win, and that’s what good teams do.”
3. Anthopoulos couldn’t possibly have slept much around last year’s trade deadline, making a flurry of moves that sparked his club to a second-half run.
He probably doesn’t need to be as active for this season’s Aug. 2 trade deadline.
The Braves could probably use another quality reliever and perhaps a depth starter. But they’re set in other spots. Their outfield is talented and crowded. Ozzie Albies is expected to return and start at second base. The Braves already have five starting pitchers and a deep bullpen, and should get Mike Soroka and Kirby Yates back.
But you can never have too much pitching.
“The depth on this team is pretty impressive,” Olson said. “If (we were active at the deadline), it would probably be splitting hairs a little bit. We got a lot of depth and a solid squad.”
4. Atlanta might have baseball’s best offense. From its power to its depth, the lineup has looked unstoppable over the last month and a half.
With 147 home runs, the Braves set a franchise record for most homers in the first half. They rank second in baseball in the category.
Their .757 OPS is fourth in the sport. They have scored the third-most runs. Their .248 team batting average ranks 10th.
5. Manager Brian Snitker always says it: At the start of a season, you never know who might impact a club. There are always opportunities.
Raise your hand if you had Michael Harris and Spencer Strider delivering for the Braves in the first half.
The two rookies are contributing for the reigning champions. Harris is an elite center fielder, and Strider has capably filled the fifth starter spot.
“That’s what you hope for, is to come to this level and do well and help win games, and when you do it’s great,” Strider said. “But still a lot to learn and a lot to improve.”
Harris is batting .283 with an .816 OPS. He has eight home runs and 26 RBIs. He won NL Player of the Month for his performance in June.
Strider has a 3.03 ERA over 74 ⅓ innings this season. He has allowed two or fewer runs in seven of his 10 starts since joining the rotation.
Stat to know
2003 – The 2022 Braves have the most wins at the All-Star break since the 2003 club had a franchise-record 61.
“I think we’re another championship team, in my mind.” – Snitker on his club
The Braves return to action Friday versus the Angels at Truist Park. The game begins at 7:20 p.m.