For the sixth year in a row, the Atlanta Braves are NL East champions.
The Braves clinched the division on Wednesday night, becoming the first team to punch their ticket to the 2023 MLB Postseason.
Atlanta was crowned division champs when they defeated the Philadelphia Phillies, 4-1. They increased their division lead over them to a whopping 17 games.
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That lead is by far the largest between top-two seeds in any division, which is quite the accomplishment, considering Philly owns the top wild-card spot.
The Braves have been kings of their division since 2018, but this year’s squad may be the best they’ve had in their recent run – including the 2021 World Series champion team – and maybe ever.
Atlanta is now currently 96-50, putting them at a 106-win pace. The 2021 team won 88, and the franchise’s single-season record is 106 from 1998 – Morgan Wallen even wrote a song about that squad, rightly titled “’98 Braves.”
But the ’23 Braves are certainly on their way to being one to remember forever in baseball, as they are led by not one, but two MVP candidates.
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Matt Olson leads the majors with 51 homers and 128 RBI, while Ronald Acuña Jr. became the first person in MLB history to hit 30 homers and steal 60 bases in a season on the final day of August (he very well could do 40-70, by the way).
While baseball purists want small ball back in the sport, Atlanta is proving that the long-ball is king. Entering Wednesday, they had 281 homers – the closest was the 226 by the Los Angeles Dodgers.
But it’s not just homers that they hit – in fact, it’s simply the best offense in baseball. Entering play Wednesday, their .275 average, .344 on-base percentage, and .501 slugging percentage all lead the majors, as do their 848 runs.
As far as pitching is concerned, their ace in Spencer Strider has 259 strikeouts, by far the most in the majors (entering Wednesday, Kevin Gausman was second with 217). Their relievers owned a combined 3.56 ERA heading into their clincher, the third-lowest mark among MLB bullpens.
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If the season ended right now, they would face either the Phillies or Chicago Cubs in the NLDS. They lost to the Phillies in last year’s division series.