It’s no secret that 2022 hasn’t exactly been the year that the Braves faithful had hoped for following the magic of 2021, and the World Series high has somewhat lost its luster as we head into the third month of this season. We’ve written about this year being a 2021 redo (and not the good kind) as well as the frustration that defined the month of May, and there’s plenty more coverage to a similar tune.
This, on the other hand, is not a space for that.
Despite the mounting negativity, the Braves have also had their share of exciting, fun, and enjoyable moments during the first two months, and as our collective hands hover above the proverbial panic button, I thought it might be a good idea to highlight some of those positive points.
So, without further ado and in no particular order, below are my top 5 moments of the Braves’ first 50-ish games:
Orlando Arcia’s walkoff blast
Am I including and listing this one first because I saw it in person? Maybe, but what made it particularly memorable was the way that Arcia seemingly bottled up all the pushback towards him being in the lineup and turned it into a three-hit night capped off by this walkoff homer against the Red Sox.
Michael Harris II’s MLB debut
I used to work in college baseball, and as such, I will be the number one fan of anyone making their major league debut and seeing that dream realized. Michael Harris II had been having a dominant year in Double A Mississippi when the Braves decided to have him make the jump to the majors on May 28, and he hasn’t looked back, particularly from a defensive standpoint.
He made this grab during the middle of Paul Byrd interviewing his father about the debut day events:
"Actually I was asleep. I had to be at work at 5:30 in the morning."@PaulByrd36 sits down with @MoneyyyMikeee's parents during his MLB debut.— Bally Sports: Braves (@BravesOnBally) May 28, 2022
Right on cue, he makes a catch that draws loud cheers from friends and family. pic.twitter.com/SHy0zWUTWt
And let’s not forget this diving catch just a few days ago in Arizona:
We are all Collin McHugh.
As a side note, even though they’re not on the big league squad at the moment, Bryce Elder and William Woods also deserve a shoutout for making their major league debuts this season.
William Contreras’ two-homer game (twice!)
Contreras’ performance this season really speaks for itself, and he’s created an interesting dilemma when it comes to lineup construction—to the point where he’s played left field just to get his bat in the game. At the time this was written, he was tied for second in the major leagues for homers by catchers, trailing only his brother, Willson. Four of those homers came in two games, against the Rangers on April 29 and against Marlins on May 21.
Kyle Wright Day (any of them, honestly)
Ok, so this one isn’t necessarily a moment, but this list would be completely remiss if it didn’t mention the transformation of Kyle Wright that we’ve seen in 2022. I’ll be the first one to admit that I was convinced as recently as his first few starts of this year that 2021 postseason Kyle Wright was a mirage, but he really seems to have settled in as quite a reliable part of the Braves’ rotation in a time where they’ve really needed it.
If you’re keeping score back home, you’ve probably noticed by now that I haven’t discussed any of the usual suspects, which feels very on brand Braves to me. Even the next few moments I thought about including keep this trend going: Matt Olson silencing a brewing Twitter meltdown with a four-hit performance earlier this week, or Spencer Strider earning his first career start. Still, no mention of guys like Max Fried or Ronald Acuña Jr. just isn’t quite right, so…
May 7 win over Brewers
This game had a little bit of everything—the best throwback uniforms in baseball; Max Fried winning a pitcher’s duel against Corbin Burnes; Ronald Acuña Jr. featuring LeBron James’ “Silencer” celebration after a fifth-inning blast; and, perhaps most notably, Travis d’Arnaud throwing out two runners, including one to seal the win with this strike ‘em out, throw ‘em out double play:
Honorable mention: Rings
I’m giving this an honorable mention because it’s tied to the 2021 season, but I personally don’t know if I’ll ever get over the details of the World Series rings. It feels like every time I revisit the details, I notice something I hadn’t seen before and can’t believe they thought to include.
And on that note, let’s all take a deep breath and bring some good vibes into June. The Braves still have a roster talented enough that they’re bound to start clicking on a regular basis soon, the Mets are (hopefully) still the Mets, and for better or worse, there’s still a lot of baseball left to be played.