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I guess it shouldn’t be a big surprise because of the correlation, but they were showing all the league leaders in offensive and pitching stats on Bally.   AL had all the offensive top spots while the NL had all the pitching leaders. I thought it was interesting that no one from the other league snuck into one of those stats. 

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33 minutes ago, ToxicBraves said:

Premium content. Will need to subscribe to read. Can you give a tl;dr 

 

The Atlanta Braves were on life support. Their obituary was written.

 

Everyone just waited for the front office announcement that it was time to pull the plug on their 2021 season.

It made sense. Atlanta just lost outfielder Ronald Acuña Jr., one of the greatest players in baseball, to a season-ending knee injury. Starter Ian Anderson, who was pitching the best on their staff, was placed on the injured list with shoulder inflammation. Starter Mike Soroka’s comeback ended when he tore his Achilles tendon walking into the clubhouse. Outfielder Marcell Ozuna is out indefinitely after being arrested in late May, and still faces family violence and assault charges.

Doctors, in this case, FanGraphs, gave Atlanta just a 6.2% chance, sitting with a 44-45 record at the All-Star break. The Mets, with a four-game lead, had a 75.1% chance to win the division.

Atlanta GM Alex Anthopoulos grasped the bleak outlook, knew they had not spent a single day above .500, and laid out instructions to manager Brian Snitker and his staff.

"We’re not giving up. We’re not waving the white flag. We can still do this.’’

 

Well, here they are, five weeks and seven trades later, sitting atop the National League East with a five-game lead over the Philadelphia Phillies entering Sunday. 

The standings, with Atlanta winning 15 of their last 17 games, have dramatically flipped since the All-Star break:

  • Atlanta: 23-11

  • Philadelphia: 18-17

  • New York: 13-23

Hello playoffs, it’s Atlanta again, on the way to winning its fourth consecutive NL East title.

“It has been as rough and big a grind as any season I’ve been through here,’’ Snitker tells USA TODAY Sports. “Guys were going down with big injuries. We were losing two guys at a time with injuries. We lost three of the first four hitters that started the season for us. We thought we were going to get one of the brightest young starters in the game back in June or July, and now won’t have him back until next June or July. Freddie [Freeman] had a rough start.

“But you know what, they kept consistently fighting the fight. They showed up every day with energy. Never one time did I hear, 'Woe is me, or pitiful me.’

“And talking to Alex, he was never, ever, in on giving up. We didn’t know what was going to happen, but there was never any talk about shutting this thing down. It was always full-speed ahead.’’

It’s too early for Atlanta to put champagne on ice with an upcoming eight-game stretch against the powerful New York Yankees, San Francisco Giants and Los Angeles Dodgers. Yet, after winning 15 of their past 17 games, they could pull away from the pack in September.

The genesis of the comeback, Atlanta executives will tell you, all began at the All-Star break, right after the amateur draft was completed.

Anthopoulos was deeply concerned that the All-Star break would allow sorrow and gloom to seep into their clubhouse. My God, hadn’t they been through enough all year, and now to lose Acuna – an MVP candidate – for the rest of the year, too? It was enough to shatter anyone’s confidence of staying in the race, and leave the players privately wondering whether they would be traded.

 

“That was a legitimate get right there, that was big getting Joc Pederson,’’ Snitker said. “He brought us credibility. He’s a big player in the postseason. He’s a World Series champion. He filled a big need.

It was just the start.

One day later, he grabbed veteran catcher Stephen Vogt from the Arizona Diamondbacks. Then came three more outfielders in Adam Duvall from Miami, Jorge Soler from Kansas City and Eddie Rosario from Cleveland.

Oh, and for good measure, acquired Pittsburgh Pirates closer Richard Rodriguez, too.

“Alex has never been guilty of doing anything,’’ Snitker says, "but making this team better. The guys appreciate the fact he will always have their back, trying to fill holes, and making the team better. We lost some guys, some big guys, but he’s not going to stand pat. He’ll keep pushing that envelope.’’

The truth is that Anthopoulos, according to several executives, actually wanted to do much more.

When the Nationals dropped out of the race and let everyone know they were selling, Anthopoulos wanted three-time Cy Young winner Max Scherzer. He was interested in outfielder Kyle Schwarber, reliever Daniel Hudson and veteran infielder Josh Harrison, too. Sorry, he was told, the Nats refused to trade their players inside their own division.

They wanted Marlins All-Star center fielder Starling Marte, too, but were told the Marlins didn’t want to trade him inside the division, either, and watched him go to the Oakland A’s. They checked in Texas Ranger outfielder Joey Gallo before he was traded to the Yankees. They talked to the Cubs about Kris Bryant and closer Craig Kimbrel too, but the Cubs wanted to wait, exacting the highest possible return on the last day of the trade deadline.

Still, when the smoke cleared the team had completely remade its outfield, fortified its bullpen, and strengthened the lineup with Travis d’Arnaud returning just a week ago.

“It was unbelievable,’’ Snitker said. “He wasn’t going to let anything stop us. They were the perfect guys, too. The guys fit right in. They all immediately had an impact winning games, and the makeup is really good on everybody he brought in, too.’’

Really, it’s the character of the players, in which Anthopoulos takes the most pride. He understands the value of players coming into an organization that can fit right in. If they have an abundance of talent, but are selfish and care only about their individual success, sorry, Anthopoulos doesn’t want you.

 

“You learn when you fail, and I failed plenty of times as a GM,’’ Anthopoulos says. “I think for me, it was I could tell the difference. I want to be able to walk into that clubhouse and like the vibe, and the group, and the people.

“People you surround yourself with are critically important. I think it matters on the field. I think it matters in the environment. I think it matters day in and day out. I especially think the key element is when things aren’t going well, that’s when it ends up showing up.

“You can have a lot of talent, and still win games, but you’re going to hit a bump. But when it’s a a strong group, the roof and the floor doesn’t cave in, it stays together.’’

This team sure refused to be torn apart, and now, could be sneaky dangerous in the postseason. Freeman is performing like an MVP again, raising his batting average from .224 to .300 over the past seven weeks with a 1.036 OPS the second half. Max Fried is pitching like a Cy Young contender with a 1.57 ERA since the All-Star break – including a four-hit shutout on just 89 pitches Friday. And infielders Austin Riley (1.090 OPS) and Dansby Swanson (.943 OPS) have combined for 21 homers and 65 RBI in the second half.

 

“I’ve said for five months now that I just feel like we’re capable of getting on a run,’’ Snitker said. “It took a long time for that to happen. But we stayed relevant.’’

Atlanta took body blows all season, leaving them staggered and woozy, but instead of dropping to the canvas, here they are in the final rounds of the NL East fight, looking as if they’ll be the last one standing in the division.

Once again.

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And once again just to put a fine point on just how good of a job AA has done.... He got all those players for essentially Bryce Wilson.

I know some other minor league guys were traded away but those are guys that really didn't have a path on the major league team.

If the Braves win the east then you have to give AA the executive of the year.

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1 hour ago, falconsd56 said:

And once again just to put a fine point on just how good of a job AA has done.... He got all those players for essentially Bryce Wilson.

I know some other minor league guys were traded away but those are guys that really didn't have a path on the major league team.

If the Braves win the east then you have to give AA the executive of the year.

And Snit “another” MOY reward? 

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3 minutes ago, Unknøwn said:

He'd get my vote but its probably going to Kapler. Giants turnaround from a below .500 club to the best team in MLB will probably beat Snit. 

Yeah that is going to be hard to ignore.

Kapler had the giants overachieving and that is always going to bode well with voters.

 

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8 minutes ago, Unknøwn said:

He'd get my vote but its probably going to Kapler. Giants turnaround from a below .500 club to the best team in MLB will probably beat Snit. 

Funny you bring him up. Can you believe he’s even in the running? After watching him stink it up in Philthy.. 

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