How the Braves Stack Up Entering the 2023 MLB Postseason

Marcell Ozuna and Matt Olson of the Atlanta Braves

Two years ago, the Atlanta Braves defied the odds after a sluggish start and won the World Series for the first time since 1995. Atlanta failed to make it past the NLDS last season despite a 101-win season, but the Braves have a chance to right some wrongs in 2023. The Braves became the first team to clinch a playoff spot in September in what’s been an incredible regular season.

But, can the Braves win it all again in 2023? Let’s take a look at how the Braves stack up entering October.

Related: 2023 MLB Fantasy: Dylan Crews and Paul Skenes Are Legitimate Options for Next Season

A Look at the Braves Offense

Let’s start off with the offense, which has a chance to break records over the final few weeks of the regular season.

As of September 12, Atlanta came into play with the most runs scored (841), as well as the highest OPS (.845) — 44 points better than the Dodgers, who sat in second — and team batting average (.275). Not to mention, Atlanta’s 278 home runs is over 50 homers ahead of the Dodgers.

Atlanta’s averaged 1.93 home runs a game through the Braves’ first 144 games. It’s a figure that should the Braves sustain over the final 18 games, would lead to this team’s group of hitters to break the Twins’ single-season record for most home runs (307) in a season.

As of the 12th, the Braves have seven hitters — Sean Murphy, Matt Olson, Ozzie Albies, Austin Riley, Eddie Rosario, Ronald Acuna Jr., and Marcell Ozuna — that have hit at least 20 home runs this season. Four of those names — Olson, Riley, Acuna Jr., and Ozuna — already have at least 30, including league-leader Matt Olson.

However, the key cog behind that offense has been Acuna Jr., who leads the league in runs and hits and became the first 30-60 player in MLB history. He could also be the first 40-40 player since Alfonso Soriano in 2006, provided he can hit at least four home runs over the Braves’ last 18 games.

With so many hitters that can do damage, it’s nearly impossible to keep the Braves off the board in games.

A Look at the Braves Pitching

The Braves rotation this season has been key to Atlanta’s success this season.

Sure, things didn’t work out as expected for much of the season, thanks to injuries to Kyle Wright and Max Fried early on in the 2023 campaign. The emergence of Bryce Elder, though, proved to be massive for the Braves.

Despite a strong run in September last year, a 6.17 ERA in the spring led to Elder being demoted to Triple-A to begin the 2023 campaign, He was quickly summoned to Atlanta after the start of the regular season, and hasn’t looked back. Elder is currently sixth in the NL in ERA (3.38), and he’s been strong with his command and ability to induce ground balls.

And as one can see when looking at the charts on his changeup and sinker, he does a great job of mirroring and playing one off the other.

  • Bryce Elider sinker heat map in 2023 (as of 9/12)
  • Bryce Elder changeup heat map (as of 9/12)

Elder, Charlie Morton, and Spencer Strider formed quite the trio at the top of the Braves rotation without Fried or Wright. Their success, coupled with closer Raisel Iglesias, and fellow relievers A.J. Minter, Kirby Yates, and Joe Jimenez, helped propel the Braves to the top ten in the Majors in ERA (3.91) and first in total strikeouts (1,362).

How the Braves Can Win it All

Even though the Braves haven’t clinched the division yet, it’s a near given at this point that Atlanta will lock both the NL East and home-field advantage throughout the National League playoffs.

That helps, but the reality is it’s not the be-all, end-all. Atlanta had home-field advantage in the NLDS last year against the Phillies, but Philadelphia’s hot offense knocked the Braves out after four games.

Now, this year’s team is significantly different. While most of the core pieces are still in place, the addition of Sean Murphy, the rejuvenations of Eddie Rosario and Marcell Ozuna, and a healthy Ozzie Albies all make this Atlanta team’s offense much more lethal.

The pitching, however, will likely be what separates Atlanta from a second World Series title in three years or a quick exit.

Elder and Morton have both been effective this season, and Max Fried’s been highly effective since his return from the IL in early August. But what about Spencer Strider, who leads the Majors in strikeouts but owns a 4.55 ERA in the second half? What about Kyle Wright, who returned from a lengthy stint on the IL on September 11 but struggled mightily with his breaking stuff? Can those names get back on track and get the job done in October?

On paper, the Braves pitching staff has the depth. But, there are questions that the team’s staff must answer over the next few weeks.