Thursday, July 25, 2024

The Braves stunned the Marlins again in the first half, and continued the “ridiculous” power surge.


ATLANTA — The Braves’ 61 home runs in June was impressive enough, considering it was four times the previous National League home run record by any team in any calendar month. But what made it even more heartening for Braves hitting coach and manager Brian Snitker was this: Homeowners were accompanied by a steady drop in hitting.

The Braves struck out 14 more times than any other MLB team in June and did so while posting a .372 OBP that was 25 points better than the next highest, and while he scored 176 runs, tied for the lowest in the majors for the month.

“If you go back to some good Astros teams — let’s face it, they’re still good — but in their prime a couple of years ago, they led the league in home runs and had the least amount of hits,” said Chipper Jones, a legendary former Braves slugger who is now a hitting consultant for the team. “This is it fatal Mix, especially when you roll out the promotion they’ve had for the last few years.

“That’s kind of what I’m like with this crime. It might be a little bit (ed) biased to say, but I think they’re better. Those (the brave) are better. Like, they do it up to the ninth degree.”

After scoring five runs in the first inning and hitting six homers in Friday’s opener 16-4 defeat against the Marlins on the last day of June, the Braves opened July in similar fashion, with back-to-back homers from Ronald Acuna Jr. and Ozzie Alpes igniting the first six innings of the season. Halftime on Saturday in a 7-0 defeat that extended Atlanta’s winning streak to seven games and gave the Braves a league-best 55-27 record, including 15 wins in their last 16 games.

They opened an eight-game lead in the NL East over the second-ranked Marlins, who are 1-8 against the Braves and 47-28 against everyone else. Marlins rookie Eury Perez entered with a 21-game scoreless streak, a 5-1 record and a 1.34 ERA, including a 0.27 ERA in his past six starts. The young right-hander struck out with a 2.47 ERA after striking out only once and allowing six runs and seven hits including two homers and three doubles.

That kind of thing can happen against the Braves, who have a pair of six-game homers against the Marlins this season — no other MLB team has multiple six-game homers, period — and lead the majors with 155 batters, including 29 innings. the first. Homers. They’ve scored five or more runs in the first inning of three of their past eight games, against teams (Reds, Marlins) that were in winning streaks before facing Atlanta.

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“What we’re doing,” Snicker said, “I’ve never seen anything like this, this first thing.” “It just speaks to the individual batsman and how focused these guys are. A lot of these guys don’t bowl anyone, grinding the bat every time. I think all the runs and the damage we’re doing is a byproduct of that.”

The Braves’ first-inning offense was stealing shooters at a historic pace, with more runs (87), strikeouts (121), and homers in the opening inning than any other MLB team has ever scored in the 2000s. any inning this season. They are on pace for 171 first-inning runs, which will surpass the modern-era MLB record by the 1950 Boston Red Sox (160 in 145 games) and obliterate the Atlanta record (127 in 1999).

No team had hit more than 31 first-round homers before August, and the Braves were fewer than 32 homers with nearly the entire month of July to get there.

“I mean, it’s ridiculous watching what they’ve been doing, especially for the past month,” said Braves veteran Charlie Morton, who allowed four hits and one walk with five strikeouts in ​ .sr-only{border:0;clip:rect(0,0,0,0);height:1px;margin:-1px;overflow:hidden;padding:0;position:absolute;width:1px;white-space:nowrap} ⁄ innings on Saturday. “I think if I play long enough — like, I’ve seen enough where it doesn’t really surprise me that much anymore. But it’s so silly. To watch a guy (Perez) go out there — this guy’s sitting 98 to 100 (mph), and they’re rocking After swinging the ball in. I don’t think they walked anyone in the first inning, and we put in six runs.

“I mean, that was ridiculous. The past two days, to watch them do that…”

Morton, 39, is often at a loss, but he kept looking for her to finish his thoughts on the Braves attack.

“I’ve watched guys try to hit the ball home, try to keg the ball just during the game,” Morton said. “Young pros can do it, but at the same time, to watch the guys get up there—next guy after next guy after next guy—beat a guy who throws 100 miles an hour, who’s fine. … There’s a reason they (Marlins) win games, And the reason they go into this park for the series and they feel good. They play well, they play well. And to watch the guys do that, I don’t think I’ve ever seen that.”

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Atlanta’s 155 home runs lead them 25 more than any other team going into late games on Saturday and put them on course for 306.

The other two teams with the three lowest strikeouts in June, the Nationals (176) and Yankees (181), hit totals of 50 home runs during the month—11 fewer than the Braves in June. This was after Atlanta hit the second-most hits (51) in the majors in May while having the 11th-fewest hits (232).

The Braves finished the 2022 season with the second most homers (243), but they also had the second most hits (1,498). It was their trend this year toward more homeowners and far fewer strikes that impressed many in the organization.

“Men are maturing, getting older and getting bigger at their game, so to speak,” Snicker said. “They’re another year older and more experienced. That has a lot to do with it.”

The Braves swung at 34.8 percent from pitches outside the strike zone last season, the third highest in the majors, below only the Tigers and White Sox, according to Fangraphs. But this season, the Braves’ 33.0 percent pursuit rate is better than nine teams, and June’s 32.7 percent was better than 10 teams including the Astros (33.5) and Rays (34.6).

“We don’t chase as much,” said Snicker. “You’re talking about a group of youngsters who haven’t gone where they’re going yet. More at bat and experience, you’ll see continued improvement in all of them, I think. They’re very talented. The more you do that, the better you get at it, and they’re doing it a lot now.” “.

For example, Austin Riley, who swung 34.5 percent from pitches outside the strike zone in 2022, has reduced that to 29.4 percent this season. Acuna went from 28.5 percent last season to 27.2 percent this year, and Michael Harris II from 41.7 last season to 39.1. Some of the older Braves have even lowered their chase percentage including Marcell Ozuna, who swung 36.1 percent from field out of the area a year ago and is 30.7 this season.

The supercharged offense helped the Braves win 22 of their past 25 games and set the team on course for 108 wins, which would set a franchise record. That mark is held by the 1998 Braves, who went 106-56.

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The Braves have played just three games and scored fewer than four runs since a 5-2 victory over Arizona on June 3. Five Braves were among the National League’s top 17 in OPS in June, led by Eddie Rosario (1.115) and Acuña (1.112), who finished first and second in the league in hitting nine batters apiece during the month. Matt Olson led the league in homers (11) and RBIs (25) in June.

After moving from second to fifth in the batting order, Olson batted . 333 with 10 homers and 22 RBI in his last 13 games in June.

“I don’t mind where I’m at in the order, when you have the depth we have,” Olson said. “I look at myself as a guy who’s going to drive in runs, and when 7’s, 8’s and 9’s (in order) get to base as much as 1’s, 2’s and 3’s, there’s really no specific place to really look to. I think he’s been rolling really well. You’ve got Ronald’s acceleration And Ozzie is at the top at the base, and it was fine for us.”

Riley said he felt the crime start to come into play at the beginning of June.

“I always felt up until then that we didn’t all click together, and I think we do now,” he said. “And that’s fun. Like Ole said, from one to nine, it doesn’t matter — any time in the game, in any situation, you like anybody out there.”

Snitker was asked if he had any inclination in late May that his team was about to produce that kind of crushing offensive rush.

He said, “You never know.” “You’re hoping, at the end of May, that you’ve played enough now that things start to happen, maybe this will define your path. You don’t sit there and think we’re going to do what we just did. You just kind of go out and do it, and you don’t really think about it when You live it. And then the month is over and you look back and go, ‘Holy cow, that was good.’ But until tomorrow.”

(Photo by Ronald Acuna Jr. and Marcel Ozuna: Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)



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