There is no doubt it is a little too early in the Major League Baseball season to know who is going to the World Series, but the Atlanta Braves are strong hopefuls. Through 40 games the Braves are 25-15, they have commanded the National League East, and have remained as one of the top teams in the MLB. Two Braves players are big contributors to the hot start. The first MVP poll of the season has Ronald Acuña Jr. and Sean Murphy as the top 2 MVP candidates for the National League.
After last season where he did not play his best due to injuries, Ronald Acuña Jr. has not disappointed so far this season. Acuña leads the league in multiple categories and is undoubtedly the heart of the Braves. Through 40 games Acuña leads the MLB in runs (36), on-base percentage (.437), and hits (54). Acuña is in second for batting average (.346), in second for stolen bases (17), in fourth for slugging percentage (.577), and in third for on-base plus slugging percentage (1.014). Acuña’s performance so far this season has put him almost unanimously in first for the National League MVP favorite poll with 40 votes.
After being traded in December from the Oakland Athletics, Sean Murphy has made a name for himself in the great lineup the Braves have. Murphy’s stats have won the at first hesitant Braves fans over. Through the 35 games Murphy has played, he is slashing a .269 batting average, with 9 home runs, 32 runs batted in, and a .975 on-base plus slugging percentage. Murphy’s 32 runs batted in leads the entire National League. Murphy received three of the first place votes for the National League MVP favorite poll putting him in second place right behind his teammate Acuña.
Acuña and Murphy have definitely been bright spots for the Braves, but who else has contributed to the team’s early success? Matt Olsen is another contributor to the Braves offensive success. Through 40 games, Olsen is tied for the fourth most home runs in the MLB with 11 and is also tied for the fifth most runs with 32. As far as pitching goes, Spencer Strider and Bryce Elder have been standouts for Atlanta. Strider has four wins, a 2.51 earned run average, and leads the MLB in strikeouts with 79. Elder has three wins and the best earned run average for Atlanta with a 1.94. Strider’s and Elder's impressive starts have proven crucial as the Braves rotation has been hindered by injuries.
Courtesy of: Todd Kirkland/Getty Images
The Braves have clearly started off hot, going back and forth as one or two in MLB’s power rankings. Will the Braves explosiveness continue for the rest of the season or will they fall off? Over Mother’s Day weekend the Braves were swept by the Toronto Blue Jays. This has Braves fans worried with what is to come as the pitching rotation dwindles. Many fans remain hopeful that the team will continue to play well and possibly produce an MVP this season. Braves fans and overall fans of the MLB should keep an eye on Atlanta to see if they can keep up with the high expectations.
Courtesy of: Kevin D. Liles/Atlanta Braves/Getty Images