ATLANTA -- A whopping 63 runs. A combined 89 hits.
While going 6-1 so far in their 10-game homestand (and 9-1 overall), the Atlanta Braves offense has been dynamic from top to bottom. Punctuated by a season-high 19 hits in Sunday's 15-1 rout of the Phillies, the Braves have now had nine players homer in the last week and that same number combine for 39 extra-base hits.
"Being able to manufacturer runs and also hit the ball out of the ballpark up and down the lineup, it's pretty impressive to watch," said third baseman Josh Donaldson, who has hit four homers and two doubles over the last seven games.
Up 2 1/2 games in the National League East, the Braves have found their groove at the plate and it's that offense that's the center of focus as we dive into this week's Three Cuts.
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1. It's been raining at SunTrust Park
It's been a memorable run for Josh Donaldson. He got into the stare down with the Pirates' Joe Musgrove that led to the benches clearing on Monday night and Saturday, and his wonderfully eclectic playlist -- which featured Keith Sweat's 'Twisted,' and 'Jambalaya' by Hank Williams Sr. -- was the soundtrack for Saturday's batting practice.
Also, this may well be stretch where we may look back and remember the Bringer of Rain catching fire.
The 33-year-old homered for the third straight day Sunday, part of a three-hit day and a seven-hit series as Donaldson has hit .370/.392/.889 over his last six games to push his season line to .252/.360/.471 with 118 wRC+.
That comes after he was at just one percent above league average in the month of May with seven extra-base hits in 25 games and nearly 100 plate appearances. By comparison, Donaldson has just one fewer XBH in his last six games.
Even when the numbers weren't were many had hoped when he signed a one-year, $24 million deal with the Braves, the underlying stats spoke to Donaldson going on a run. He's remained in the upper 90s in exit velocity and hard-hit percentiles, dealing with undeniable bad luck as his BABIP was at .171 before this weekend's series.
A lot was made of the extra work that Donaldson got in before Saturday's game as he and hitting coach Kevin Seitzer worked with the breaking ball machine as he's seen an uptick in sliders (15.7 percent after seeing 13.5 last year) and been at minus-0.3 wSL runs above average and he's had issues with curveballs (minus-2.3 wCB). But that work clearly paid off.
Saturday, he homered on a changeup and doubled off a knuckle curve and Sunday, he went deep on another changeup and also hit a double on a slider.
"Over the course of this weekend ... I think I had five or six (hits) on off-speed," Donaldson said. It's just something I've been kind of lacking, really all year.
"Having that freedom and taking a couple changeups and being able to hit them out of the ballpark, that's more like what I do."
Donaldson has now homered in three straight games for the first time since Sept. 15-17, 2017, a good omen as it was the last time the former American League MVP reached triple digits in games played in a season.
"He gets it going, he's that type of guy that can carry you," manager Brian Snitker said.
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2. Bottom of Braves order has become one of MLB's best
While the change made to the top half of the Braves' lineup on May 10 -- with Ronald Acuña Jr. at leadoff and Dansby Swanson -- helped sparked Atlanta to a 23-10 record, the second-best in the NL in that span, let's not downplay how it's helped make the back end of the batting order that much more dangerous.
Certainly the arrival of No. 6 hitter Austin Riley, whose nine home runs and 26 RBI are the most of any 6-8 hitter since his debut, has helped. But since the lineup changes, Atlanta's 6-8 hitters are first in MLB in RBI (72) and ISO (.233), second in average (.291) and third in wRC+ (123).
It's also clear that the changes have proven the platform for a rejuvenation for Ozzie Albies.
After hitting six percent below league average in his last 130 plate appearances at leadoff, the second baseman has a 126 wRC+ hitting either sixth, seventh or eighth. But in hitting ahead of the pitcher in 16 of the last 31 games, he's produced three home runs, 10 RBI a .385 average and 172 wRC+, with the latter figure ranking as MLB's best since the move.
Seitzer has pointed to an expected increase in off-speed pitches Albies has seen in front of the pitcher and it has bore out. The switch-hitter has seen a nearly four-percent increased in changeups, and homered on two of them.
"His at-bats have been so much better," Seitzer said. "His exit velocity is up, the chases are down and he's going in the right direction."
Albies and Riley have supplemented Braves catchers, with Brian McCann hitting four home runs, driving in 13 and sporting a .233 ISO since May 10 and Tyler Flowers with a .352 on-base percentage.
With the back end of the lineup catching fire, Atlanta has 105 wRC+ through 72 games, which trails only 2003's 111 wRC+ through this point of the season and is tied with the '13 team (which, coincidentally, was the last season of McCann's first run with the Braves).
That '03 team is the Braves' most productive at the All-Star Break at nine percent above league average, and at this rate, this year's team is going to make a real challenge toward besting that mark.
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3. Markakis, McCann's milestones put Braves in familiar position
Nick Markakis became the eighth active player to reach the 1,000-RBI mark in Monday night's win over the Pirates and four days later, Brian McCann joined him in dramatic fashion with his walk-off single against the Phillies.
It gave the Braves the only active teammates to have joined the 1,000-RBI club and put this Atlanta team in some rare company it has already joined once in the last 13 years.
Since 2000, only six teams have carried multiple players who reached the century mark in RBI, the Yankees (Derek Jeter, Jorge Posada, Alex Rodriguez and Bernie Williams), the Astros (Jeff Bagwell, Lance Berkman and Craig Biggio), the Angels (Garett Anderson and Tim Salmon), the White Sox (Paul Konerko and Frank Thomas), the Mariners (Ken Griffey Jr. and Edgar Martinez) and, of course, the Braves with Andruw Jones and Chipper Jones.
Atlanta's duo of Markakis and McCann won't likely have any company this season, but there's a chance we see another group of teammates join the list next season. That would be MLB's current RBI leader Albert Pujols (who has 2,020 and counting) and his Angels teammate and former Braves outfielder Justin Upton, who is 103 away.