Ask yourself: if Ronald Acuña Jr. played all of his games against the Marlins, how quickly would Barry Bonds' home run record fall?
He's now played 34 career games vs. Miami and has gone deep a whopping 15 times, a ridiculous 71 home run pace in a single season. So within a decade of Marlins-only games, Acuña would be closing in on 762. It's farcical, but if commissioner Rob Manfred is looking for a sure-fire way to spice up the game and guarantee offense, it's at least something to consider ...
Acuña went deep four times in the four-game series in Miami and stands just two steals away from the second 30/30 season for a player 22 or younger (joining Mike Trout), and with 33 homers has made the the fifth 40/40 year in history a possibility.
While the Braves offensive phenom continues to dazzle, Mike Soroka is doing the same on the mound as we dive into this week's Three Cuts.
1. Mike Soroka making run at historical rookie season
He's already been an All-Star and should be in the National League Cy Young and Rookie of the Year conversations, and barring any changes to the Braves rotation days or skipped starts down the stretch, Mike Soroka is making a run at a historic season -- for any young starter this decade, and for any rookie Braves starter since the move to Atlanta.
Soroka's 2.32 ERA has him in line to join the late Jose Fernandez (2.19 ERA in 2013 at a mere 20 years old) and Mark Prior (2.43 in 2003 at age 22) as the only qualified starters 22 and under with an ERA under 2.50 this decade.
Soroka is also on pace for 29 starts and 174 innings pitched, potentially giving the right-hander eight more starts (general manager Alex Anthopoulos said Thursday "We haven't made any arrangements to [limit his innings]. We're just going to play it by ear."). His seven scoreless innings Saturday vs. the Marlins gives Soroka 14 quality starts on the season, which is 10th in the NL and a whopping eight more than the other 24 pitchers age 22 or younger who have started a game this season.
Those 14 starts with three runs or fewer through with at least six innings pitched are currently eighth-most since the Braves moved to Atlanta in 1966. Soroka has a chance to bypass Pete Smith and Hall of Famers John Smoltz (21 in 1988 and '89, respectively) and finish second to Steve Avery, who had 23 in 1992 (at age 22).
Now, expecting every one of Soroka's remaining starts to result in a QS is unfair and (maybe?) unlikely, but he's four more from joining Julio Teheran (2013) in the top five and he is five quality starts away from another HOFer, Tom Glavine (19 in '88).
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2. Has red-hot Albies laid claim to No. 2 spot in the order?
Acuña's putting the entire baseball world on notice with his run at 40/40, but he isn't the only Beisbol Hermano punishing opponents at the top end of the Braves' lineup.
Ozzie Albies has 21 hits this month and over the past seven games, has an MLB-best 16 hits, with a .552/.567/.1.069 slash line and a 317 wRC+ that's the second-best in the NL to the Reds' Aristides Aquino (413). Albies has done his greatest damage since moving up to the second spot in the order July 24 -- the day after Dansby Swanson was lost to a heel injury that still has him on the injured list -- with a 1.130 OPS and a 187 wRC+ that are the fourth and fifth-best, respectively, of any No. 2 hitter in that span.
That production begs the question: what happens to the second spot in the order whenever Swanson returns?
In his first 35 games at No. 2, Swanson carried an .879 OPS, but that figure dropped to .706 over his 15 games in July with five extra-base hits in 62 at-bats. Albies, meanwhile, has racked up 14 extra-base hits in his 78 ABs since taking over.
It's a moot point as of this writing as manager Brian Snitker said Saturday that the shortstop's recovery from a foot contusion "hasn't really taken the turn for the better we wanted. " The Braves' 45 wRC+ at shortstop with Swanson out off the lineup is 26th and getting his career-high 17 home runs back will be a boon regardless of where he fits in, but a red-hot Albies has brought an undeniable different gear sandwiched between Acuña and Freeman in the lineup.
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3. New additions have yet to fix bullpen's struggles
There's no way to sugarcoat what's been happening with the Braves bullpen since the July 31 trade deadline: the pieces that were acquired to shore up the team's Achilles' heel simply haven't.
All-Star closer Shane Greene have given up five runs (all earned) in five games with the Braves (including two blown saves and a loss); Chris Martin has a loss on his ledger with five earned runs in five games and, Mark Melancon, who was moved to the closer role ahead of Saturday's loss to the Marlins, was tagged for four earned runs, setting the stage for Greene's second blown save.
Sunday was a step in the right direction as Martin stepped in for Foltynewicz in the seventh and struck out two Marlins. It was Luke Jackson that stepped in to earn his 18th save as Greene and Melancon were used in back-to-back games.
The absence of the August waiver wire deadline compounds for any team looking to address a need. The only fixes now are in-house, or to hope someone is placed on waivers or falls through them and becomes a free agent.
The new Braves have resumes, meaning the hope they can find their grooves on a new team are more than lip service, and there is a laundry list of options in the organization to fall back on. But that this area is still a point of conversation, even after the focus at the deadline, simply mystifies.
Since Aug. 1, only the Orioles bullpen (.480) has allowed a higher wOBA than the Braves' new-look bullpen at 3.89 and Atlanta has the sixth-highest FIP post-deadline at 5.65.