There is no denying that the Atlanta Braves have gotten off to a rough start to the 2021 season. Currently sitting at 10-12 overall and 3rd in the NL East, there arguably haven’t been many positives aside from a few so far this season.
Now when looking at the positives for the Atlanta Braves so far this season, there are in fact a few notables that stick out.
The Braves have gotten phenomenal production from Ronald Acuna Jr, who would be the no-doubt NL MVP if the season ended today, as well as the normal production from Freddie Freeman and strong starts from pitchers Ian Anderson and Huascar Ynoa.
However, the first month MVP for the Atlanta Braves isn’t anyone that was listed above. In fact, the first month MVP for the Braves should be the bench, in particular Ehire Adrianza, Guillermo Heredia, and Pablo Sandoval.
Now I obviously know what you’re thinking, Acuna is the un-disputed Atlanta Braves MVP up to this point.
I would 100% agree with you, but here me out on this however.
Think about it, where would the Atlanta Braves be without Adrianza, Heredia, and Sandoval?
Due to a combination of injuries and slow starts for some of the Braves regular’s to start the season, this has forced Adrianza and Heredia in particular into everyday roles.
Adrianza won a job on the big league roster by hitting .400 in spring training, and was thrust into a starting role early this season, partly due to the injury of 2B Ozzie Albies. The veteran utility man has been a revelation for the Braves so far as he has hit for a .258 AVG, a .581 SLG%, and an .858 OPS, and is on track to put up some of the best numbers of his career.
Heredia was recalled from the alternate site to takeover as the everyday CF when Cristian Pache and Ender Inciarte went down with injuries. As you know by now, Heredia has done nothing to relinquish that starting role, even now with Pache healthy. Heredia is on track to have no-doubt his best season ever, and is showing no signs of slowing down anytime soon.
What about Sandoval? The Panda also won a bench role during spring training, and has already had some massive pitch-hit moments becoming a favorite among Braves’ fans.
So where would the Atlanta Braves be without these three? Based off of contributions and notable moments alone, the Braves would most likely have lost 4-5 games that they won if they didn’t have Adrianza, Heredia, and Sandoval.
These three in particular have combined to hit for a .276 AVG, a 1.049 OPS, 7 HRs, and 22 RBIs so far this season. As long as they’re maintaining this current production, it is a massive win for the Atlanta Braves.
However, when the bats truly begin to come alive once again for the Braves everyday regulars, this production and versatility from these three on the bench gives Atlanta one of the best benches in baseball.
Yes, the Atlanta Braves are not necessarily the best team in baseball currently, but they’re a lot better than they arguably should be due to Adrianza, Heredia, and Sandoval.
As mentioned previously however, once the bats wake up, the Atlanta Braves lineup and bench depth could become a scary sight for any pitching staff as the season rolls on.