5 things to know about the Braves’ surprising offense

Freddie Freeman reacts after scoring on a three-run homer hit by Preston Tucker in the first inning against the Washington Nationals at SunTrust Park Wednesday, April 4, 2018, in Atlanta.
Caption
Freddie Freeman reacts after scoring on a three-run homer hit by Preston Tucker in the first inning against the Washington Nationals at SunTrust Park Wednesday, April 4, 2018, in Atlanta.

Credit: Kevin C. Cox

Credit: Kevin C. Cox

The Braves won both of their series against the Phillies and Nationals to complete a successful 4-2 homestand to start the season, putting them at two games over .500 for the first time in nearly three years, since the Braves were 8-6 on April 22, 2015.

If there was anything more surprising about the Braves’ performance in the first week of the season than solid bullpen work it was the offense. The unit that many people were so worried about.

It was, in a word, prolific. Shockingly so.

Here are five things to know about the offense as the Braves transport their sizzling bats to Colorado on the team charter Thursday to start a nine-game trip Friday in what are expected to be chilly conditions for most games in Colorado, Washington and Chicago.

1. The Braves lead the majors with 48 runs, tied for the most the franchise has scored in its first six games during the modern era and the most any major league team had through six games since the 2006 Braves also had 48. The next-highest scoring total this season is the Astros' 41 runs in seven games, and the next-best six-game total is the Nationals' 36. By the way, five members of the 2006 Braves team hit at at least 24 home runs – Brian McCann (24), Chipper Jones (26), Jeff Francoeur (29), Adam LaRoche (32) and Andruw Jones (41). The current Braves have one hitter who's hit as many as 24 homers in a season, Freddie Freeman, and their seven homers through Wednesday was only half the total of the MLB-leading White Sox (15 in five games) and five behind NL leaders St. Louis and Washington (12 apiece).

2. The Braves lead in the majors in batting average (.297) and rank second in on-base percentage (.376) and slugging percentage (.481), and their 16 doubles in six games are two behind the Astros' majors-leading 18 doubles in seven games.

3. The Braves' .450 average with runners in scoring position is the best in the majors, nearly 100 points higher than the next-best (Rockies, .353). Freddie Freeman is the majors' individual leader in average (.857), OBP (.889) and slugging percentage (1.857) with runners in scoring position. Freeman is 6-for-7 with two homers, two intentional walks and nine RBIs with RISP. As a team, the Braves also lead by wide margins in OBP (.507) and slugging (.750) with RISP, and are tied with the Astros for most RISP at-bats per game (10). The Braves' five homers with runners in scoring position is also tied for most in the majors.

4. Preston Tucker's three-run homer off Nationals ace Max Scherzer in the first inning Wednesday made Tucker the first player in franchise history to hit a three-run homer or grand slam in the first inning of consecutive games. Tucker, hitting .429 with four extra-base hits, eight RBIs and an .810 slugging percentage through six games, batted sixth in the Braves' first two games and moved up to fourth after injuries to catchers Tyler Flowers and Kurt Suzuki on successive nights to start the season. Suzuki is expected to return to the lineup Friday. Ryan Flaherty has begun his Braves career with a six-game hitting streak, going 10-for-23 (.435) with four doubles while starting each game at third base in place of injured Johan Camargo (oblique), who's expected to play rehab games Thursday and Friday in high Single-A and could be activated Saturday.

5. The Braves led at the end of all 18 innings in the final two games of their series against the Nationals on Tuesday and Wednesday. Washington had not trailed in any of 36 innings during its 4-0 start before losing the last two games of the series at SunTrust Park. The Braves scored seven or more runs in four of its first six games, including games with 15 runs vs. the Phillies and 13 runs vs. the Nationals. In 2017 the Braves didn't score more than five runs until their 11th game and didn't do it a second time until their 19th game.