The Atlanta Braves have a lot of good things going for the upcoming 2023 season. They have several potential MVP candidates on the list like Ronald Acuna Jr., Austin Riley, Michael Harris II and Matt Olson. If they stay healthy all year, Max Fried and Spencer Stryder could easily be among the best pitchers in the entire league, and if this past year is any indication, Kyle Wright can force himself into this conversation as well. The Bulls should be great because he’s deep in talent and anchored by (at least) a couple of studs in AJ Minter and Raisel Iglesias. Things could go sideways with any of these players, but they’re off to a very strong start again into 2023.
However, one thing that cannot be overemphasized is how important it is to be one Newest Braves addition, Sean Murphyto adjust quickly to his new surroundings because if the Braves are going to contend for another World Series title next season, they’re going to need a big season of him on both sides of the ball.
Shaun Murphy is going to need to manage the show’s cast well…and fast
I don’t think we need to get over how good defensive tackle Shaun Murphy is at this point It was a very big selling point by all when the brave took possession of him. Murphy can control the running game very well (which would be an important skill if… New rules for 2023 and beyond Stolen base attempts increase as expected) and he’s a good player at framing the field as well.
However, the only thing he’ll have to do quickly is run the game, prepare, and just help run the staff alongside Travis d’Arnaud. There are certainly no red flags that he doesn’t have these skills, but this is a completely new teamwork for him and the staff will have to get used to him as well. All parties need to be on the same page and quickly because this divisional race is likely to be tight, so early-season growing pains can be very costly.
This means he’ll need to know how Spencer Strider’s breaking ball moves when he’s on as well as when he’s not on, and how to change the pitch sequence in the game when opposing hitters appear to be putting good swings on the fastball for him to keep. They are out of balance with still using Fried’s strengths, how Kyle Wright flattens out when the inning goes sideways vs how Bryce Elder flattens. Hell, Charlie Morton’s breaking ball (when the back leg foot doesn’t drop) isn’t the easiest throw in the world to block when one gets used to it. These are all things he’d certainly end up looking great in a Braves uniform, but for the Braves to even tour in 2023… he’s going to need to excel quickly.
Murphy will need to bring some offense or things could get dicey
Admittedly here, the catcher’s offensive bar is low especially for a defensive ability catcher for Sean. However, the Braves have some question marks (although a real upside) in their lineup at shortstop, left field, and to a lesser extent DH already. Sure, if Vaughn Grissom is lighting fire while starting a lot of games shortstop and Eddie Rosario pretends every team he faces in 2023 is the Dodgers from the 2021 NLCS, it doesn’t really matter what Murphy does at the plate.
However, if those guys were to struggle (which they could easily be), the lineup would shorten a bit. The Braves still have thunder at the top of the lineup to make things happen, but the tall lineup gets tough starters out of the game more quickly and can punish bulls without arms or much depth.
Fortunately for the Braves, Sean has a solid track record at the plate as three of his four major league seasons have him posting OPS north of .750. He plots his walk, has some bob, and doesn’t step out at an unreasonable rate. All of these are good signs and if he can put together a season in 2023 In line with his career averages Or better yet, Atlanta will be in really good shape in all likelihood.