Braves in April/May: 23-27. Braves in June: 13-0

Atlanta's Dansby Swanson is greeted by third-base coach Ron Washington after he hit a home run Tuesday against the host Nationals. The Braves won 10-4 to extend their winning streak. (AP Photo/Julia Nikhinson)

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Atlanta's Dansby Swanson is greeted by third-base coach Ron Washington after he hit a home run Tuesday against the host Nationals. The Braves won 10-4 to extend their winning streak. (AP Photo/Julia Nikhinson)

The Braves were 23-27 at May’s end. Their longest win streak had been two games. They’re 13-0 in June. Of the 13 games, only two have been decided by one run. Over 13 games, the Braves have outscored opponents by 54 runs.

Since opening the month with a 6-0 victory at Arizona, the Braves have played Colorado, Oakland, Pittsburgh and Washington. They’ve scored 10-plus runs in one game against each of those. Dansby Swanson has hit five home runs over his past five games in Washington. The Braves have hit back-to-back homers in the past three games.

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The Braves rank second in baseball in home runs, trailing only the Yankees. They rank third in OPS. Their pitchers have forged into the top 10 in ERA. Their relievers rank first in FanGraphs WAR and fielding independent pitching.

Michael Harris, who never had played above Single-A before this season, is hitting .318 in the majors with an OPS+ of 138. (League average is 100.) Since rejoining the big-league Braves, Ronald Acuña has six homers and 11 stolen bases; his OPS+ is 147. Adam Duvall hit one home run in April and one in May; he has five in June, which is only half-done.

Max Fried hasn’t been charged with a loss since April 13. Kyle Wright has one loss since May 10. Spencer Strider, the reliever turned starter, has struck out 57 batters in 38 ⅓ innings. Opponents are batting .172 against closer Kenley Jansen. Since May 14, former closer Will Smith has managed six holds, one save and no blown leads.

FanGraphs gives five teams a better-than-10% chance of winning the World Series. The Braves are among them. Barely two weeks ago, the Braves had gone two months without doing much. Today we wonder when – perhaps even if – they’ll lose again.

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The caveat: Of these 13 consecutive victories, none has come against a team above .500. Beginning Monday, 17 of the Braves’ next 23 games will come against opponents at/above .500. That’s why nobody in this front office is taking a victory lap. What comes around could, in the wink of an eye, turn around. Which isn’t to say it will. The belief here is that a very good team has settled into being a very good team again.

This falls under the heading of one of the few things about baseball that can’t be quantified, but here goes: The 2022 Braves didn’t start with a pedal-to-the-metal approach. The lockout made for a shortened spring training. Freddie Freeman signed with the Dodgers just as the Braves convened in North Port. The organization spent the first homestand celebrating the World Series, which wasn’t inappropriate – you win it all, you can do as you please – but it didn’t make for a laser-focused April.

The first road trip featured a reunion with Freeman, which even the unflappable Fried deemed “weird.” The Braves won none of their first five series. They didn’t sweep a series until June. By then, the Mets had built a 10 ½-game lead. Once past Memorial Day, a team can’t cling to the it’s-still-early excuse. I’m unaware of any furniture-flinging by Brian Snitker – he’s not that sort of manager – but the guess is that the Braves, who didn’t climb above .500 until August last season, realized they couldn’t wait any longer this time.

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Acuña’s return helped loads. The arrivals of Harris and William Contreras brought a jolt to a batting order that needed one. Strider became a viable fifth starter. As of April 27, Swanson was hitting .188; he’s now at .291, 10th best among National League hitters; he’s seventh best in Baseball-Reference WAR for NL position players.

On June 1, general manager Alex Anthopoulos told the AJC: “The talent on this club speaks for itself.” A championship team has remembered what it is, which was bound to happen. There was never much chance that such a stacked roster would spend six months doing so little.

Yes, the Braves have been facing weak opposition, but it wasn’t long ago that they, at least record-wise, likewise were a mediocrity. They aren’t now.

As Anthopoulos also said: “Things get magnified at various times, but these guys are established. You look at the body of work over six months, and it winds up being where you want it to be.”

The Braves will be without Ozzie Albies for a while. He’s a good player. We’ve been reminded that the Braves have lots of good players. Lots of good players make for a very good team.