When the season started, the New York Mets and Atlanta Braves were widely viewed as the favorites to win the National League East title.
For most of the season, it was the Mets who occupied the top spot.
The Mets, however, started to slide before the All-Star break and their collapse, which is still taking place, allowed both the Braves and the Philadelphia Phillies to surpass them in the standings this month.
At the moment, before Friday’s games, the Braves are the division leaders with a 65-56 record.
The Phillies are 61-60 after dropping their last four games and seven of their last 10.
The Mets already fell below .500, at 60-61, and are five games behind the Braves.
You could say with confidence that Atlanta is starting to pull away in the NL East, something that seemed implausible a month ago.
The Braves Are Red Hot
The Braves have a six-game winning streak and have won nine of their last 10 games, so they are peaking at the right time.
They were due for one of these streaks, as they are the only team in the NL East division with a positive run differential, at +86.
The Phillies and Mets are -25 and -27, respectively, while the Washington Nationals (-48) and Miami Marlins (-28) are also negative.
The Braves actually have the fourth-largest run differential in the NL, as hard to believe as it may sound.
Only the Los Angeles Dodgers (+207), San Francisco Giants (+143) and Milwaukee Brewers (+113) are higher on the ranking than the Braves.
The Braves Acted And Pounced At The Deadline
Yes, the Mets became famous for their injury crisis, but the Braves also had to deal with star players losing time with physical ailments.
Their rotation was hit hard, and they are currently without Mike Soroka and Tucker Davidson, while Huascar Ynoa missed months with a fractured hand and Max Fried has also had injury-list stints.
They lost Marcell Ozuna (domestic violence case), who was one of the most productive hitters in 2020.
And, of course, the Braves lost their best player, Ronald Acuña Jr., to a torn ACL.
They have rallied behind the reigning NL MVP, Freddie Freeman.
His average is now at .301, and it was .224 on June 9.
Freeman is hitting .448/.515/.862 with three homers and seven RBI in his last seven games.
This Braves team believed in itself and in its players and decided to go for it, acquiring a lot of help in their worst position: outfield.
They brought Jorge Soler, Adam Duvall, and Eddie Rosario.
I think it’s safe to say that the Atlanta Braves may have been a big winner at the Trade Deadline based on filling their needs and turning them into victories as compared to the rest of the NL East. pic.twitter.com/6aKgNMSKwU
— GlennW (@givemeglenn) August 19, 2021
The latter will rejoin the Braves after an injury soon, and the first two are hitting well.
Of course, it also helps that Austin Riley and Dansby Swanson are having excellent seasons, and Charlie Morton has been as good as advertised as the number one in the rotation.
Atlanta has won 8 of 9 since this tweet and has opened up a four game lead in the NL East.
Your welcome @Braves https://t.co/9eb6vrYssJ
— Brandon Hyde’s Burner (@HydeBurner) August 20, 2021
As things currently stand, the Braves look like the favorites to win the NL East at this point, and deservedly so.NEXT: Braves Suddenly Look Like Contenders Even With Major Absences