To hit with power, the Braves are not sacrificing anything. They are punishing baseballs more than ever, but they’re not striking out a lot – which is seen as a simple trade-off to swinging for the fences.
Entering Thursday, the Braves had the fifth-lowest strikeout rate in the majors, at 20.6%.
Put another way: Only four teams in baseball had struck out less than the Braves: Cleveland, Washington, Houston and Arizona.
Last season, the Braves’ 24.6% strikeout rate was the third-worst mark in the majors. They had a dominant and deep offense, as they do this season, but the strikeouts sometimes held them back.
This offense is a pitcher’s nightmare.
“I think that’s why you see so many innings that are just huge innings,” Spencer Strider, asked to provide a pitcher’s perspective, recently said. “Good pitchers come in and have great stuff and have been pitching really well. They look wide-eyed out there. You can see it. Fortunately, I don’t know what it’s like facing them. They just make you adjust to them. That’s something that every hitter is trying to do well.”
The Braves are reaping the obvious benefits of their improvement. More balls in play equals more chances for hits. And the Braves also came into the Nationals series with baseball’s top average exit-velocity mark.
“I feel like we’ve got guys that – a lot of guys just naturally have power,” Austin Riley said. “I think it’s knowing yourself that the power is going to be there and trying to go up there having good at-bats. And then having a good at-bat, power comes. And I think that guys in this clubhouse understand that and have kind of bought into that.”
One big example: After having a 23.6% strikeout rate last season, Ronald Acuña Jr. arrived in Washington with an 11.3% strikeout rate – which was in the 97th percentile in baseball. This is only one of the many reasons Acuña could win National League MVP.
On highlight tapes, you’ll continue to see the Braves blast one mammoth homer after another. You’ve seen box scores from each game, which contain the details of this offense’s dominance.
Under the hood, the Braves’ ability to cut down strikeouts is a driving force for one of the better offenses in baseball history.
“We’re not striking out, which kind of allows it to be more than a one-dimensional type offense,” Snitker said. “I think that’s been a big factor in the offensive years that we’ve had as a team.”
Braves outright Luetge
The Braves on Tuesday designated lefty reliever Lucas Luetge for assignment when they activated Jesse Chavez from the injured list.
Luetge cleared waivers. The Braves outrighted him to Triple-A Gwinnett.
The Stripers’ final game is Sunday.