If the saying “April showers bring May flowers” is true, then the Atlanta Braves must not have received much rain. After finishing their first month of the season with a record of 19-9, the Braves have gone 8-9 so far in May. This challenging month has now put them six games back of the Philadelphia Phillies in the National League East, who have thus far looked unstoppable.

Thanks to the dominating run the Braves have been on since 2018, claiming six straight division titles, fans have grown accustomed to winning. That's what makes this recent stretch of losing five out of their last six so disappointing. Sure, it's baseball and slumps happen, but this is about more than just a slump.

The Braves have been riddled with injuries since the start of the season, losing catcher Sean Murphy to an oblique injury. Then there was right-hander Spencer Strider going down for the season with an elbow injury. Throw in short stints on the injured list for shortstop Ozzie Albies and now third baseman Austin Riley, and it's no wonder the Braves haven't been racking up wins like they normally do.

No doubt these injuries to some of their star players have had adverse effects, most notably on the offense. But thanks to the loaded roster they've assembled over the last few years, they've had the talent to overcome these challenges. However, that hasn't been the case for the players still in the lineup.

Braves fans have to be fed up with Ronald Acuna Jr.

Mar 31, 2024; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; Atlanta Braves right fielder Ronald Acuna, Jr (13) runs to first base after drawing a walk during the first inning against the Philadelphia Phillies at Citizens Bank Park. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

I'm not sure any Braves fan would want to admit it, but they are likely fed up with Ronald Acuna Jr. at this point in the season. Last year's reigning National League MVP has looked anything but that in his 44 games played this year.

Acuna is slashing just .247/.355/.351 with an OPS of .705. His batting average is nearly 100 points lower than what he finished with a season ago. He currently has a WAR of just 0.3, compared to last year's career-high of 8.2. And maybe most surprising out of all these is that he has just three homers.

What made Acuna so dominant last season was his ability to cut down on his strikeouts and work counts. From 2022 to 2023, he reduced his strikeout percentage from 23.6 percent to 11.4 percent. This year, it has jumped back up to 24.1 percent, with 49 strikeouts already.

To make matters worse, even Acuna's work on the base paths has been lacking. So far, he has 15 stolen bases for the year, three shy of last year's total at this time. There were two games in which he was picked off three times at first base in total. He is the first Braves player since Quilvio Veras to be picked off in consecutive games back in 2001 and the first player to be picked off three times in two games since the White Sox's Scott Podsednik in 2005, according to The Athletic's David O'Brien.

He's also the first former MVP winner to be picked off twice in a game since Joe Morgan in 1977.

Acuna isn't the only one struggling. Matt Olson hasn't looked himself, and even when Riley was playing, he had yet to hit his stride. But given all that Acuna is and means to the Braves, coming off an MVP year, he has to be the catalyst for Atlanta's concerns and frustrations at this point.

There isn't a fan in Braves country who would trade Acuna or want to take him out of the lineup in his leadoff spot. But if the Braves want to get back in the hunt to win their seventh division title, they need him to start hitting.

The Braves' left fielders: Jarred Kelenic and Adam Duvall

May 19, 2024; Atlanta, Georgia, USA; Atlanta Braves left fielder Jarred Kelenic (24) reacts after a strike out against the San Diego Padres in the fifth inning at Truist Park.
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Marcell Ozuna has never been the answer in left field. The Big Bear is obviously in his best spot now that the DH is in both leagues. The corner outfield position in left has never been fully solved for some time in Atlanta.

The position has turned into a revolving door for the Braves. Since 2021, Atlanta has had 16 players occupy the position, with Eddie Rosario, now with the Washington Nationals, holding it down the most with 212 games. Alex Anthopoulos hoped to have found his answer during the winter when he traded with the Seattle Mariners for Jarred Kelenic. However, even before the start of the regular season, Anthopoulos brought back a familiar face in 35-year-old Adam Duvall to platoon with Kelenic.

Kelenic has been superb defensively for the Braves, having an 89 percent success rate and ranking 17th in the league for left fielders in outs above average, per Baseball Savant. It's his and Duvall's offense that has been subpar.

Together, the two have a combined .225 batting average, four home runs, and 15 RBIs with 40 hits in 192 plate appearances. While it's a bit unfair to ask bottom-of-the-lineup guys who platoon with each other to put up high numbers, it's safe to say the Braves were hoping for better production than this, especially from Kelenic.