Bill Shanks

Braves finish first stretch of season at 16-11

Atlanta Braves' Ozzie Albies in action during a baseball game against the Philadelphia Phillies on April 27.
Atlanta Braves' Ozzie Albies in action during a baseball game against the Philadelphia Phillies on April 27. AP

With the 10-1 win over the Phillies Sunday afternoon, and with a day off Monday, the Braves finished the month of April with a 16-11 record. The 27 games represent one-sixth of the 162-game baseball schedule.

If they keep this up, the Braves will finish with a 96-66 record — a 24-win improvement from last season. In their first nine series of the season, the Braves have won six, split two and lost only one.

The Braves won their sixth game of the season against Philadelphia Sunday and won their third straight series — two in Atlanta and this latest one on the road. Beating the Phillies was important this year, as the Braves were only 6-13 against Philadelphia last season.

The offense has been the story for this Atlanta team. The 151 runs are the most in the National League. That’s an average of 5.6 runs per game. The Braves are on pace for 906 runs this season, which would be the most in a season for an Atlanta team since they scored 907 in 2003.

The Braves also lead the National League in team batting average (.268), on base percentage (.342), slugging percentage (.440), OPS (.781) and doubles (66).

Atlanta has 24 stolen bases, second-most in the NL. They are on pace for 144 steals. Atlanta had only 77 stolen bases last season.

Here are what Atlanta’s starters in the lineup are on pace for through the first one-sixth of the season:

Ender Inciarte — .276 – 0 HR – 54 RBI – 78 SB – 192 hits - 18 doubles - .320 OBP

Ozzie Albies — .293 – 54 HR – 120 RBI – 18 SB –204 hits - 72 doubles - .341 OBP

Freddie Freeman — .314 – 24 HR – 114 RBI – 192 hits - 66 doubles - .437 OBP

Nick Markakis — .302 – 24 HR – 108 RBI – 192 hits - .405 OBP

Kurt Suzuki — .290 – 24 HR – 72 RBI – 120 hits - .370 OBP

Dansby Swanson — .287 – 12 HR – 78 RBI – 186 hits - 48 doubles - .330 OBP

Of course, part of the story the past few days has been the addition of Johan Camargo and Ronald Acuna, Jr. to the lineup.

Camargo is making a case for Jose Bautista to only be a bench player if he comes up to Atlanta. In his first eight games, Camargo is hitting .294 with a home run, two doubles, a triple and seven RBI in his first 17 at bats.

Acuna is hitting .421 (8-for-19) through his first five games, with one home run, four RBI, and four doubles. The Braves are 4-1 since Acuna came up. They’ve outscored opponents 29-17. That’s averaging 5.8 runs per game, which is just above what they averaged for the first 27 games.

Since Acuna arrived, Albies has gotten hot again. In his last five games, Albies has hit .389 (7-for-18) with three home runs, seven RBI, seven runs scored, three doubles and two stolen bases. Albies is going to be a strong candidate for the Player of the Month award for April. Albies is hitting .293 with nine home runs and 20 RBI.

The pitching has been very good, as well. The overall team earned run average is 3.64. Last season, it was 4.72. Atlanta’s rotation has been very good so far, with a 3.42 earned run average. Even with a few hiccups, the Braves bullpen has been solid overall with a 3.94 ERA.

Here are what the Braves pitchers are on pace for through 27 games:

Brandon McCarthy — 24-0 – 3.09 ERA – 36 starts - 192 innings

Julio Teheran — 6-6 – 4.50 ERA – 36 starts - 180 innings – 174 strikeouts

Mike Foltynewicz — 12-6 – 2.53 ERA - 36 starts – 192 innings – 234 strikeouts

Sean Newcomb — 6-6 – 4.23 ERA – 30 starts – 164 innings – 204 strikeouts

Sam Freeman — 4.76 ERA - 96 appearances

Arodys Vizcaino — 1.42 ERA – 78 appearances – 18 saves

Peter Moylan — 2.89 ERA – 78 appearances

A.J. Minter — 2.13 ERA – 78 appearances

Dan Winkler — 1.38 ERA – 78 appearances

Shane Carle — 0.96 ERA – 78 appearances

The Braves start the month of May Tuesday with a three-game series in New York against the first-place Mets. They return to SunTrust Park Friday night for a weekend set against the San Francisco Giants.

Listen to “The Bill Shanks Show” from 3-7 p.m. weekdays on “Middle Georgia’s ESPN” – 93.1 FM in Macon and 99.5 FM in Warner Robins. Follow Bill at twitter.com/BillShanks and email him at thebillshanksshow@yahoo.com.

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