Against all odds, the Atlanta Braves are pulling away in the National League East.
Most folks wrote this team off when superstar Ronald Acuna Jr. went down with an ACL injury in July, but the Braves are proving everyone wrong.
It’s crazy to think about, but Acuña is still 5th in fWAR out of all position players in the NL. It sucks that he had to tear his ACL in the midst of a potential MVP caliber season. #Braves
— Chop Oñ (@13ChopOn13) August 18, 2021
Right now, the club has a five-game advantage in the division.
With a little over a month remaining in the regular season, a five-game lead is pretty substantial.
It might be time for fans in Atlanta to start gearing up for a playoff run.
That’s something that seemed impossible about a month ago.
How did the team get here?
Let’s take a look at some of the biggest factors.
The Philadelphia Phillies And New York Mets Have Helped The Braves’ Cause
The Braves deserve all the credit in the world for their resurgent second half, but there’s no denying that the Philadelphia Phillies and New York Mets have helped Atlanta out.
Since the trade deadline, the Phillies and Mets have been extremely mediocre.
The same cannot be said about the Braves.
See for yourself:
- Phillies since deadline: 12-12
- Mets since deadline: 7-18
- Braves since deadline: 17-7
Atlanta’s meteoric rise has been a product of the team’s own success and the failures of other division foes.
Braves fans certainly aren’t complaining about the fortunate circumstances.
There’s nothing wrong with getting hot at the right time.
And truthfully, it really does feel like Atlanta is the best team in the division.
The past month doesn’t seem like a fluke.
Jorge Soler, Adam Duvall, And Richard Rodriguez Have Been Nice Additions
All three of those players have been solid for Atlanta since joining the team.
Soler has an OPS of .859 over 22 games, Duvall has an OPS of .746 over 23 games, and Rodriguez has an outstanding ERA of 0.75 over 12 appearances.
It was a great deadline for Atlanta.
Austin Riley, Freddie Freeman, And Dansby Swanson Have Been On Fire Since The Deadline
Take a look at each player’s numbers since July 30:
- Austin Riley: .344 average, .989 OPS
- Freddie Freeman: .333 average, .922 OPS
- Dansby Swanson: .371 average, 1.087 OPS
Those players are showing no signs of slowing down, and they deserve a lot of the credit for Atlanta’s run.
The Braves infield this season 👀
The best infield in baseball.
— Kevin Keneely (@KevinKeneely1) August 24, 2021
Swanson deserves a shutout in particular.
He has been on fire for about six weeks.
If you go back to July 4, he’s batting .337 with a 1.010 OPS over his last 44 games.
That’s the player the Braves thought they were getting when they traded for Swanson in 2015.
Can he keep it up?
Max Fried Is Pitching Out Of His Mind
Atlanta’s rotation has gotten a huge boost lately thanks to Max Fried.
He has an insane 0.67 ERA over his last four starts, and the Braves are 4-0 in those games.
Over Fried’s last 11 starts, the Braves 8-3.
He has been incredibly valuable.
Despite dealing with key injuries to the rotation at various points this season, Atlanta’s staff is very serviceable.
That has been a key part of the team’s recent success, and that will have to continue if the club hopes to make a deep playoff run.