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As Duvall, Braves rake, 'you almost expect it'

Slugger ties for NL lead with 15th HR -- 10th of Sept. -- and Freeman paces bats past O's
@mlbbowman
September 16, 2020

Though Adam Duvall has hit more home runs than any other Major Leaguer this month, his September OPS ranks third on his own team. That’s just how ridiculous the Braves' offense has been while pushing the team toward another division title. Duvall belted his 10th homer of the month and

Though Adam Duvall has hit more home runs than any other Major Leaguer this month, his September OPS ranks third on his own team. That’s just how ridiculous the Braves' offense has been while pushing the team toward another division title.

Duvall belted his 10th homer of the month and Freddie Freeman recorded his seventh multi-hit performance within the past eight games as the Braves claimed a 5-1 win over the Orioles on Tuesday night at Camden Yards.

Box score

“I’ve been in some top offensive lineups, but this one is top tier,” Braves catcher Travis d'Arnaud said. “Day in and day out, you almost expect it every day. I’m really glad I’m a part of it.”

With 11 games remaining, the Braves own a 3 1/2-game lead in the National League East. Their magic number to clinch a third consecutive division crown is nine. They’ve gotten to this position thanks to an offense and bullpen that have managed to compensate for rotation woes.

How good has the offense been? Well, entering Tuesday, the Braves led the Majors this month in both runs (105) and home runs (35). Yeah, this can happen when you score 29 runs in one game. But it’s worth noting that no other team had more than 25 homers and the Mets (85 runs) were the only club that had tallied more than 80 runs.

Leading the power barrage has been Duvall, who has 10 home runs through 58 at-bats in September. No other big leaguer has hit more than seven homers this month, and only four have hit as many as six. Three of those guys -- Freeman, Marcell Ozuna and Ronald Acuña Jr. -- are Braves.

“[Duvall] works so hard, too,” d’Arnaud said. “He’s in the cage so much and studying the pitchers so much, just making sure he’s locked in for when the game begins. I believe his hard work is definitely paying off.”

One year after humbly accepting the role of former All-Star who had to spend most of the season back at Triple-A, Duvall is tied with top MVP candidates Fernando Tatis Jr. and Mookie Betts for the NL lead in home runs with 15.

Duvall’s bid to get into the MVP discussion is blocked by the fact his strong resume isn’t quite as impressive as those constructed by Freeman, Ozuna and arguably Acuña, despite the time he missed with a couple different ailments.

Freeman strengthened his MVP bid as he highlighted this latest win with his fifth game of at least three hits this season. The four-time All-Star contributed a pair of RBI doubles and exited the game with a team-best 1.391 OPS for the month.

Ozuna’s ranks second on the Braves with a 1.218 OPS in September and Duvall ranks third with a 1.206 mark. Of course, that latter number will once again spike if the veteran outfielder extends a recent trend in the series finale against the Orioles. He has produced a three-homer performance on both of the two previous Wednesdays this month.

“It’s been a little surprising that they’ve all gotten it going together,” Braves manager Brian Snitker said. “In our circumstances, thank God they did. If we had to pick something to gel with what we’ve been through, [the offense] would be the one aspect we would have really needed.”

Mark Bowman has covered the Braves for MLB.com since 2001.