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This might end up being the best Braves lineup in franchise history

The Atlanta Braves as a franchise have had some fantastic offenses dating back to their days in Boston. This might be the best in that long, long line.

Milwaukee Brewers v Atlanta Braves Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Yesterday afternoon, the Atlanta Braves walloped the Los Angeles Angels 12-5. This included a six-run barrage in the fourth inning that ultimately put the game out of reach at 9-1 at that point. The baseball assault was capped off with Austin Riley hitting a two-run shot and then Matt Olson immediately following it up with a laser beam homer of his own to go back-to-back.

This made it two days in a row that the Braves went back-to-back with homers, as Orlando Arcia and Michael Harris II did the trick in Atlanta’s 5-1 victory over the Angels the night before. Harris’ two homers on the night pushed him into double digits for the season, which made him the ninth Braves player to hit double digits in homers this season and that number will likely reach an even ten once Travis d’Arnaud hits his next homer and it could go to eleven if Kevin Pillar hits four more dingers between now and the end of the regular season.

All told, the Braves as a team have already hit 206 home runs this season. We are a long way from 2015, which is when the team hit a grand total of 100 dingers over the 162-game campaign. We’re 106 games into this season and it’s looking likely that it’s going to be a milestone season for the Braves in terms of home runs and they’ve got every opportunity to break the franchise record of 249 homers in a 162-game season — which was set by the 2019 team, by the way.

Even if this year’s Braves don’t set the new franchise record for homers, they could go down in history in another way. To put it as simply as I can, the 2023 Braves are well on their way to collectively having the best season at the plate that any of us have ever seen this franchise produce. Yes, that includes the 2020 lineup that carried a team with barely any pitching to one game of making the World Series. That also includes the 2003 team that scored a whopping 907 runs. That includes any of the teams from the 90s that led the extended revitalization of this club. Even if it was possible for the people who were alive to see this team as the Boston Red Stockings to watch this current team, then they would also be in awe of (well, a whole bunch of things outside of just baseball, but also) how hard this 2023 team has been mashing.

As of right now, the Braves have a team wRC+ of 122, a team wOBA of .357 and a team Isolated Power number of .228 — not to mention a .498 slugging percentage, to boot. The wRC+ and Isolated Power numbers are good for being the best in franchise history during a 162-game season and the team wOBA is the best of any team that didn’t play in Boston and is currently tied with the 1948 Boston Braves. In terms of the modern era of Braves baseball, this offense is performing like nothing we’ve seen at any point up until now. The old teams from the early days of the Boston era may have put up some gaudy numbers for their time but the power we’re seeing from this 2023 team is unmatched by any other team in franchise history. It’s staggering to watch.

It also makes you think about what this team would be like if they actually had a five-man rotation instead of the three starters that they currently rely upon with the revolving door in the fourth and fifth spot. Now granted, Atlanta’s pitching staff has done a very good job without Max Fried or Kyle Wright but if those two were healthy and operating at the full extent of their abilities then it’s really crazy to imagine where this team’s W-L would be had those two been healthy for the entire season. Hopefully we’ll get to see what this team does with four fully-capable starters now that Fried is set to return for this upcoming weekend’s series at Wrigley Field.

Still, looking at the way this lineup has performed this season, it’s hard to find where any pitcher could catch a break unless the Braves themselves were having an off-night at the plate. 11 Braves players have taken at least 100 plate appearances for the team this season and of those 11, nine of them have a wRC+ of at least 100. If Eddie Rosario heats up, he could make it ten since he’s currently sitting at 98 wRC+. Even Kevin Pillar isn’t deeply below average, as his wRC+ for the season is at 87. Other than that, it’s entirely possible that there’s going to be a point this season or postseason where the Braves will be trotting out a league average-or-better hitter at every point from one-through-nine in their order.

It's a scary proposition for any other team and and the scenario gets even scarier when you have to deal with the likely 2023 NL MVP in Ronald Acuña Jr. (who is currently close to not just joining the 40/40 Club but also building the 40/80 Suite within that club) as the leadoff man. If Acuña is his usual self to start off the game then the opponent is already in a Rickey Henderson-like conundrum where you can go ahead and pencil in a run for Atlanta if he reaches base. The heart of the order is ruthless, with Ozzie Albies, Austin Riley, Matt Olson and Sean Murphy forming a middle of the order that most other teams would dream of having at this point.

Marcell Ozuna's shocking revitalization has made the transition from the middle of the order towards the bottom of the order as seamless as possible. So has the continued level of production from Orlando Arcia, who is well on track for a a career year at the plate. Eddie Rosario has proven that he can get as hot as any hitter in the game at any point and Michael Harris II has turned his season around to the point where he's performing where everybody expected him to be in his second season. That's not to mention Travis d'Arnaud usually being very reliable at the plate when he's called upon to start games as well. Most teams would be thrilled to have half of the lineup depth that the Braves currently have. Simply put, other teams are going to have a horrible time trying to find anything close to an "easy out" when it comes to this team.

While the ultimate test for this offense will come in October when the competition stiffens up and the Braves are entered into arguably the most random tournament in North American sports, this team's record against teams with records of .500 and above has shown that this team is unlikely to be exposed as a paper tiger. If it does happen then I'll absolutely be bitterly disappointed but at the same time, I'll be grateful that I got to watch this crew absolutely demolish baseballs for 162 games this season. The Atlanta Braves have had some great lineups in their storied history but none have been crushing the ball quite like this team has done so far.

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