The Braves were 12-14 in April, 13-12 in May, 13-15 in June, 14-12 in July. That’s as flat a graph as graphs ever get. Sixty-five percent of their season had come and gone. We thought we knew what they were, and their record told us they were nothing special. They hadn’t been above .500 even for a day over four months.

As of Saturday morning, the Braves were 11 games above .500. They’re 5-1/2 games ahead of the Phillies, 8-1/2 up on the Mets. The Braves are going to win the National League East a fourth year running. FanGraphs puts their chances at 88.1 percent. On July 26, the same website gave them a 7.4 percent shot.

These aren’t the Braves we thought we knew. They’re different. They’re good again. They’re 17-5 in August. The Mets led the East from May 8 through Aug. 5; their biggest lead was five games. The Braves assumed first place Aug. 11. Seventeen days later, they’re on the cusp of pulling away.

The schedule has played a part, yes. The Braves had 12 games against Washington, Miami and Baltimore – teams that have given up – while the Mets and Phillies were facing the Giants, Dodgers and Padres. Of those 12 games, the Braves won 11.

Their longest win streak entering August was four games. In this month alone, they’ve won four consecutive, then three, then nine. They hadn’t lost two in a row since the All-Star break until they lost to the Yankees on Monday and Tuesday. And they’re doing this, we remind you, without Ronald Acuna, who tore his ACL on July 10. Acuna is among the 10 best players in baseball. The Braves were 44-44 with him; they’re 24-13 without him.

Acuna was lost for the duration. Marcell Ozuna might not return this season, if ever. Cristian Pache fizzled early and is playing for Gwinnett. Ender Inciarte was waived. That’s a starting outfield plus one. None of those four have done a thing for the Braves lately. Somehow, though, losing an entire outfield has proved a catalyst.

Knowing he needed to buy in bulk, general manager Alex Anthopoulos began dealing and kept going. Over the 14 days leading to the July 30 trade deadline, he imported four outfielders. Eddie Rosario has just been activated. Adam Duvall hit a home run in Friday’s comeback victory over the first-place Giants. Jorge Soler hit the game-winning homer. Joc Pederson made the game-saving catch. The everyday players the Braves reaped in July have hit 14 homers and amassed 44 RBIs.

Said manager Brian Snitker of his team’s acquisitions: “They’ve all helped us win a game, or two, or three.”

Said pitcher Max Fried: “That’s kind of what we needed. We needed a different person to pick us up every night.”

The Braves rank eighth among MLB clubs in runs, third in homers, eighth in OPS. Their rotation’s ERA is the 12th-lowest. Their bullpen has blown the ninth-fewest saves. The team is eighth in run differential. If such numbers indicate this team isn’t great at anything except hitting the ball over the wall, they also tell us the Braves aren’t bad at anything. They’re on pace to win 88 games. They won 90 in 2018 and 97 in 2019, but greatness is too much to ask of a club working without Acuna and Mike Soroka.

August began with us wondering if the Braves would spend a day above .500. It will end with us casting glances ahead to October. The Braves will almost surely be the National League’s No. 3 seed. Milwaukee is apt to be the No. 2. The team to beat remains the Dodgers, though the reigning champs must catch and pass the Giants to be spared the indignity of the wild-card game. As it stands, the Dodgers or Giants could be eliminated before the Braves play their first postseason game.

Are we getting ahead of ourselves? Maybe. This is Atlanta, where leads never seem to last. Still, the Mets seem done, and the Phillies have lost 11 of 16, and – let’s face it – the Braves again appear the class of this division.

Fried again: “You take the days as given to you. Coming down the stretch, it’s all about winning today.”

Of the Braves’ final 35 games, only 12 – counting the resumption of the suspended game with San Diego – will come against teams above .500 as of noon Saturday. The division is again theirs to lose. They stopped losing at the moment the Mets and Phillies stopped winning. This surely wasn’t the way the Braves wanted to play it, but they’ll take it.