It seems selfish to be a fan of the team with the best record in baseball and want them to be better, but as fans, we are there. Depending on the day, the starting pitching, relief pitching, infield, outfield, or DH have been criticized because baseball is anything but consistent. At some point this season, every player has been a whipping boy to some fan. However, what is actually the biggest hole on this baseball team? Today, I’ll look at each position to determine where the hole(s) lie and see if AA’s thought process aligns with the data.

Catchers Sean Murphy and Travis D’Arnaud

When AA traded for Sean Murphy and we Braves fans saw the package, most were appalled, especially when factoring in that the trade sent a perfectly capable offensive and defensive catcher in William Contreras to the Brewers. Fast-forward to today and Sean Murphy is the best catcher in the league according to Fangraphs at 3.7 fWAR and Travis D’Arnaud’s 1.0 fWAR makes this catching tandem the best in the bigs and it’s really not close.

Conclusion: Not a Need

First Base

When the Braves let Freddie Freeman walk and Matt Olson took over, many a Brave fan wanted to burn their jerseys and yell at the clouds. Their anger likely boiled over when Olson carried a 3 month long slump in his first season with the team. Well…there’s not much there to complain about this year as the kid who replaced FF5 has a .934 OPS, 33 HRs, and is 2nd in MLB in RBIs.

Conclusion: Not a Need

Second Base

About halfway through April, Ozzie lived in a dark place in Braves fans minds and some were wondering how much the offseason shoulder surgery was affecting his performance. However, Ozzie came out of the slump and earned the confidence of Brian Snitker to put him back in the 2-hole where he’s been an extraordinary complement to Ronald Acuna Jr., carrying an .860 OPS since.

Conclusion: Not a Need

Shortstop

I’ll fully admit that I had 0 faith that Orlando Arcia would actually work out. I do remember watching him at AAA when he was re-vamping his swing plane and thinking, “Damn, he looks good”. When he got the call to the bigs to play LF, it didn’t go well on either side of the ball and he got sent back down. At only 286 PAs, Arcia doesn’t qualify for stat’s leaderboard, but if he did, his 2.2 fWAR would come in at 8th in the league and that’s good enough for me.

Conclusion: Not a Need

Third Base

Austin Riley just wasn’t very good for the first 1/2 of the first 1/2. Down to a .748 OPS on June 18th, Riley started an earth scorching streak of 29 games with a .999 OPS. He’s tied for 5th in MLB in WAR and is right on the heels of the 3rd place player.

Conclusion: Not a Need

Right field

This is silly. Ronald Acuna Jr. is the best player in the NL.

Conclusion: Clone him

Center Field

Like Arcia, Michael Harris II doesn’t’ qualify for the stat leaderboard and struggled mightily in the first 40-ish games of the season. Since, he’s been on a monstrous tear, collecting a 1.006 OPS to go along with his always spectacular defense.

Conclusion: Not a Need

Left Field

Eddie Rosario has seen the bulk of the time in LF and has collected a 0.6 fWAR in 324 PAs. Kevin Pillar has seen much less time, but has accumulated 0.5 fWAR. If Pillar played regularly, his numbers would far surpass Eddie’s as he carries an elite glove with an average bat.

Conclusion: Need

Designated Hitter

The Braves regular DH is Marcell Ozuna and he comes in at a whopping 0.1 fWAR on the year. I don’t have to tell you that this is bad and I also don’t need to tell you that a DH should be elite at the one thing he’s asked to do. At 0.1, this puts the Braves as the 20th ranked team in MLB at DH and there’s no reason they can’t get better at the deadline. A platoon partner to hit against RHP would be a great addition to the club.

Conclusion: Need

Starting Pitching

Braves are ranked 2nd in the NL in SP ERA, but that’s a little skewed as they’re 8th in MLB. The top 4 (assuming Max Fried returns soon) have been strong, but the carousel that has been the 5th starter has been less than stellar. As odd as it may seem, Allan Winans might be leading the 5th starter charge and that’s not very comforting.

Conclusion: Need

Relief Pitching

While you wouldn’t believe it based on social media, the Braves bullpen has been the best in the NL over the course of the year and that’s with many players missing quite a bit of time across the year (Raisel Iglesias, A.J. Minter, Dylan Lee, Jesse Chavez, Nick Anderson). With Minter and Lee both getting back into action soon with Jesse Chavez hopefully making it back before the year is over and AA already making 2 trades for relief help, I think the Braves are ok with their current bullpen…unless a star comes available that they cannot turn down.

Conclusion: Not a need, but could shop in the luxury aisle.

Now that we’ve identified that left field, DH, and starting pitching is the biggest need, will AA read this and give us what we need? Highly unlikely, but it’s worth a shot!

Who ya got that fits the team’s need? Let us know by joining at THE BAR below.