The Braves were the worst offensive team in baseball during the first half of 2016. They scored a league-low 307 runs, 21 less than anyone else and 183 (!) less than the league-leading Red Sox. The team's wRC+ was 72. League average is 100. The Braves were the worst offensive team in baseball in 2015. It was not close, as you probably remember.
After scoring another 12 runs on Monday, we have to ask the question: what in the world has gotten into this lineup?
The Braves' wRC+ in the second half is up to 105, which is fourth-best in MLB. Fourth! They've scored 256 runs, which is more than the Cubs, Blue Jays, Orioles, Mets, Cardinals, Yankees, Giants. Most of those teams will make the playoffs next month.
The only real change personnel wise is Matt Kemp, who is now hitting .282/.331/.487 with the Braves. Kemp has provided Freddie Freeman with much-needed protection in the cleanup spot. He's also extended the lineup now that Adonis Garcia is hitting 2nd and Nick Markakis is 5th.
Kemp has his flaws, but he can still hit. It's not fair to attribute the Braves' offensive rise solely to the 31-year-old outfielder, but the timing has proved to make for a fun storyline, whether it's a coincidence or not.
While Kemp has provided a presence in the middle of the order, those around him are hitting even better.
Ender Inciarte: .355/.403/.465
Freddie Freeman: 312/.429/.614 (1.043 OPS!)
Nick Markakis: .298/.372/.457
Adonis Garcia: .296/.345/.488
Add in Dansby Swanson for a full season, Ozzie Albies at some point, perhaps an offensive upgrade at catcher, and the Braves might have a decent little lineup for 2017. But that's a discussion for another day.
As the final three weeks of the season wind down, try and enjoy what the lineup is doing on a nightly basis. We've watched a lot of bad baseball the last two years. It's nice to see the Braves finally hit the damn ball, even if it probably won't continue at this rate.