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The Braves Are In The Swing of Things

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The Braves have won 14 consecutive games and the story of their winning streak is rooted in their aggressiveness.

The Braves have been a hyperaggressive team at the plate. They rank first in swing percentage in June (swinging at 52% of pitches). They are both the No. 1 team in swinging at pitches in the strike zone and the No. 2 team in chase rate, which is the rate at which they swing at pitches out of the strike zone.

This leads to a fascinating contrast.

No. 1 team in chase percentage: Tigers – 30 runs scored in June

No. 2 team in chase percentage: Braves – 101 runs scored in June

Wherever the ball has been pitched, when the Braves have hit the ball in June, they've done massive damage. They’ve hit .292 and slugged .569, which rank No. 2 and No. 1 in MLB in June, respectively. In fact, the Braves’ June batting average is higher than the Tigers’ June slugging percentage (.279).

But we’re not here to talk about the Tigers. We’re here to focus on the Braves and their amazing winning streak.

Most of the Braves’ everyday players – Ronald Acuña Jr., Dansby Swanson, and Travis d’Arnaud among them– have been hot hitters for at least the last couple of weeks. But the most interesting player during this Braves run is their rookie center fielder, Michael Harris II. Harris is hitting .328 with an .894 OPS in 18 games and has started every game during the winning streak.

Harris is among the Braves’ most aggressive hitters at swinging at pitches outside the strike zone (41%) and one of their least aggressive hitters at swinging at pitches in the strike zone (71%), but it’s an approach that’s working for him in the short term.

In the long term, he’ll likely have to deal with a drop in BABIP (which currently stands at .400).

What’s likely to become more notable about Harris in the future is his defense. Last year, he led minor league outfielders in Defensive Runs Saved. He’s MLB average thus far (0 Runs Saved) but has a couple of nifty catches under his belt.

Harris has definitely been a spark after what was a lackluster start by the defending champs. The pendulum has now swung in a favorable direction. The bats have swung in that direction as well.

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