What a difference a year makes. This time last season, the Atlanta Braves were coming off of an incredible June to get themselves back in the NL East race. The Braves put together another outstanding June this season, but avoided the slow start to the season and entered the All-Star break with the best record in the majors and an 8.5 game lead in the NL East. With the All-Star Break behind us, the focus will now shift to the Trade Deadline. Atlanta doesn’t appear to have any major needs, but will no doubt look to add depth.
Below is a look at the position players on the 40-man roster with some quick thoughts on each position.
- Sean Murphy (67 G, .306/.400/.599, 17 HR, 166 wRC+, 3.9 fWAR)
- Travis d’Arnaud (36 G, .275/.349/.496, 8 HR, 127 wRC+, 1.1 fWAR)
The Braves have arguably the best catching situation in the majors and it will be interesting to see how they decide to utilize it down the stretch. Coming into the break, Murphy and d’Arnaud were basically alternating starts. The resurgence of Marcell Ozuna has basically eliminated opportunities at DH. If that changes, then they could readjust, but with a big lead in the division, expect them to focus on keeping both Murphy and d’Arnaud fresh for the stretch run.
- Ozzie Albies (89 G, .262/.316/.510, 22 HR, 116 wRC+, 2.2 fWAR)
- Orlando Arcia (68 G, .294/.345/.424, 7 HR, 108 wRC+, 1.9 fWAR)
- Matt Olson (89 G, .254/.358/.569, 29 HR, 144 wRC+, 2.5 fWAR)
- Austin Riley (89 G, .266/.327/.448, 16 HR, 105 wRC+, 1.7 fWAR)
Atlanta’s entire infield made the trip to Seattle for the All-Star Game. Ozzie Albies has had a solid bounceback season after struggling with injury last year. Matt Olson is leading the National League in homers and RBI. Austin Riley has put together a solid, but unspectacular first half. He also seems to be the only Braves hitter that hasn’t gone through a prolonged hot streak yet. Orlando Arcia might be the biggest surprise on the entire roster.
- Charlie Culberson
- Vaughn Grissom
- Braden Shewmake
- Lucas Williams
The Braves have four other additional infielders on their 40-man roster. Charlie Culberson has had two stints on the active roster, but has yet to appear in a game. That is not entirely surprising given that Ehire Adrianza only appeared in five before going down with an injury. The final position player spot simply isn’t something that the Braves utilize very often. In that sense, Culberson is the perfect guy for that spot in that he is well liked and could fill in across the infield or in the corner outfield spot in an emergency.
Vaughn Grissom has put up good offensive numbers at Gwinnett and is hitting .316/.397/.462 with a 118 wRC+. Somewhat surprisingly, he only has two homers, but has 22 doubles and four triples to go along with a 10.6 percent walk-rate and a 13.0 percent strikeout rate. He has seen most of his time at shortstop, but is also playing some second base. There may be a question to what his long-term future looks like with the Braves, but he’d be the next man up for now if they had an injury in the middle infield. Shewmake has scuffled offensively hitting just .231/.308/.424 with a 78 wRC+. He does have 10 home runs and a .249 BABIP, but just isn’t in the same category as Grissom offensively.
Lucas Williams was claimed off of waivers from the Dodgers on June 5 and is on the 40-man roster, but has been passed over twice in favor of Culberson.
- Ronald Acuña Jr. (89 G, .331/.408/.582, 21 HR, 164 wRC+, 4.8 fWAR)
- Michael Harris II (67 G, .255/.301/.424, 9 HR, 93 wRC+, 1.3 fWAR)
- Eddie Rosario (79 G, .254/.306/.478, 14 HR, 106 wRC+, 0.6 fWAR)
- Kevin Pillar (43 G, .252/.284/.485, 6 HR, 101 wRC+, 0.4 fWAR)
- Marcell Ozuna (73 G, .250/.323/.477, 17 HR, 112 wRC+, 0.7 fWAR)
Ronald Acuña Jr. is on his way to a historic season that should end with an unanimous MVP Award. Michael Harris II rebounded after a slow start and looks more like the player that captured Rookie of the Year honors last season.
Eddie Rosario got off to another slow start, but rebounded with a red-hot June where he produced a 192 wRC+. Rosario is probably the streakiest player on the roster, but has probably shown enough to lessen any thought on replacing him at the trade deadline. Kevin Pillar is hitting .302/.308/.571 with a 129 wRC+ against left-handed pitchers and has proven to be a good platoon compliment to Rosario. It is an added bonus that he can play all three outfield spots if needed.
Marcell Ozuna looked like he might be days away from losing his roster spot at the end of April before turning his season around with a strong May and June. After producing a 10 wRC+ through the end of April, Ozuna has hit .298/.361/.556 with 15 home runs and a 143 wRC+.
- Sam Hilliard
- Eli White
Sam Hilliard played extensively while Harris was out with injury and performed well despite an exceptionally high strikeout rate. However, he hasn’t seen many opportunities since and has been relegated mostly a pinch runner in extra innings.
Eli White also had a brief run on the active roster, but recently suffered a shoulder injury at Gwinnett and could miss the remainder of the season.