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The best game of the week and, most likely, the entire 2023 MLB Season is set as the Tampa Bay Rays (57-33) host the Atlanta Braves (58-28) in a three-game series. The Braves are coming into this game as a slight favorite over the Rays, but it is close. Both teams are the most complete teams on both sides of the field in the entire MLB. They are the top teams in their respective conferences for a reason.
The Braves rank among the highest in the league when it comes to batting efficiencies. Atlanta has ranked first in the NL in runs accounted for (487), first in hits accounted for (809), first in home runs accounted (166), fifth in stolen bases (70), fourth in fewest strikeouts encountered (698), first in batting average (.274), first in on-base percentage (.342) and first in slugging percentage (.499).
Atlanta has three starters and three reserves participating in the 2023 MLB All-Star Game. Among one of them is Rightfielder Ronald Acuna Jr., who is one of the MLB’s best batters this season. Through 86 games this season, Acuna has accounted for a team-high 78 runs, a team-high 117 hits, 21 home runs, 54 RBIs, a team-high 41 stolen bases, 43 walks, only 49 strikeouts, a team-high batting average of .337, a team-high on-base percentage of .414 and a team-high slugging percentage of .594.
Catcher Sean Murphy is another starter in the All-Star Game, as he has been highly consistent in his first year with the Braves. He spent his first four seasons with the Oakland Athletics. Murphy has accounted for 40 runs, 69 hits, 15 home runs, 50 RBIs, a batting average of .305, an on-base percentage of .397 and a slugging percentage of .580. Finally, shortstop Orlando Arcia is having a breakout year for the Braves. Arcia has accounted for 33 runs, 70 hits, 28 RBIs, a batting average of .298, and an on-base percentage of .348.
The Rays have been one of the most consistent batting teams in the MLB since the start of the season. Their success in all areas of the games has been a testament to their incredible roster building from the farm system to free agency.
Tampa Bay ranks second in the AL in runs accounted for (494), fourth in hits accounted for (789), first in home runs accounted for (134), first in stolen bases (109), third in walks accounted for (293), ninth in strikeouts encountered (772), fourth in batting average (.260), second in on-base percentage (.332) and second in slugging (.455).
First baseman Yandy Diaz is one of two players for the Rays to be named an All-Star Game starter on Tuesday. Diaz has accounted for a team-high 56 runs, 88 hits, 12 home runs, 39 RBIs, 39 walks, only 51 strikeouts, a team-high batting of .310, a team-high on-base percentage of .399 and a slugging percentage of .496.
Leftfielder Randy Arozarena is the starter for the All-Star Game coming from the Rays. Arozarena has accounted for 54 runs, 86 hits, a team-high 16 home runs, a team-high 58 RBIs, a team-high 45 walks, a batting average of .282, an on-base percentage of .390 and a slugging percentage of .475. Shortstop Wander Franco is the All-Star reserve replacing New York Yankees outfielder Aaron Judge on Tuesday.
The over/under of the Saturday game of the weekend is set at 7.5 runs, which seems incredibly low based on how great the team batting teams of the Braves and the Rays are. While both Atlanta and Tampa Bay are to be commended for the development of two of the best batting in the MLB, it’s their pitching and fielding teams that have been a huge indication of their success.
The Braves are ranked first in the NL in ERA (3.63), fourth in hits allowed this season (697), first in runs allowed (340), third in home runs allowed (90), fourth in walks allowed (270), and second in strikeouts delivered (808). They may have the top three starting pitching units in Spencer Strider, Charlie Morton, and Bryce Elder, who have an ERA lower than 3.40 and have delivered at least 80 strikeouts.
The Rays are ranked third in the AL in ERA (3.72), second in hits allowed (680), second in runs allowed (345), fifth in home runs allowed (93), 10th in walks allowed (285) and fifth in strikeouts (797). They have a deep bullpen that they can rely on as they have six pitchers with an ERA below 3.25 and have appeared in at least 30 innings.
On Saturday, the Braves will be starting Spencer Strider (3.66 ERA in 98.1 innings pitched) at the mound, while the Rays will be starting Taj Bradley (5.27 ERA in 56.1 innings pitched). On the following day, the Braves will be starting Bryce Elder (2.45 ERA in 102.2 innings pitched), while the Rays will be starting their ace pitcher Zach Elfin (3.24 ERA in 97.1 innings pitched).
|Atlanta Braves||Head-to-Head||Tampa Bay Rays|
|Brian Snitker||Managers||Kevin Cash|
|Ronald Acuna Jr. (.337)||Batting Avg||Yandy Diaz (.310)|
|Matt Olson (29)||Home Runs||Randy Arozarena & Jose Siri (16)|
|Matt Olson (70)||RBIs||Randy Arozarena (58)|
|Ronald Acuna Jr. (.414)||OBP||Yandy Diaz (.399)|
|Ronald Acuna Jr. (117)||Hits||Wander Franco (94)|
|Spencer Strider (10)||Wins||Shane McClanahan (11)|
|Jesse Chavez (1.55)||ERA||Colin Poche (2.18)|
|Spencer Strider (155)||Strikeouts||Shane McClanahan (101)|
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Michael Hanich is a sports journalist/analyst with a wide variety of experience in the newspaper and digital field. He has a love for all sports. The leagues that he covers are College Football, the NFL, the NBA, the NHL, College Basketball (men’s and women’s), the MLB, Lacrosse, Volleyball, and the WNBA.More info on Michael Hanich
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