Back on Aug. 3 Braves Ace Mike Soroka went down with a devastating Achilles injury that ended his season prematurely. Many of those who followed the team questioned whether they would have enough to make a postseason run.
After Max Fried stepped up and rookie sensation Ian Anderson was called up, the Braves seemed like they had what it took to make a run.
After defeating the Reds and Marlins, the Braves walked into the NLCS with an undefeated postseason record. They continued that trend by going up 2-0 on the Dodgers, but the Dodgers bats started coming to life as the series went on.
The Dodgers were the best team in baseball from wire to wire this season, so it came as a shock when the Braves took a 3-1 lead. It wasn’t like the Braves weren’t a good team, they are arguably the third or fourth best team in baseball. But the bats of a lethal Dodger lineup and a good pitching staff, just weren’t playing like themselves. Until they did.
The Braves bats went cold after their game 4 win over the Dodgers, but the Dodgers started hitting well behind short stop Corey Seager who seemed unstoppable. In this series, Seager was 9-29 (.310), 5 HR, and 11 RBIs and he was a key contributor in keeping the Dodgers in the series.
What’s Next for Atlanta?
Even with the heartbreaking loss, Atlanta has a ton to build off of. This postseason included their first series win since 2001 and a game away from their first world series appearance since 1999. Max Fried became the Ace of the staff and was one of the best pitchers in all of baseball. Ian Anderson dominated in his rookie season and was solidified as the number two behind Fried.
Wright and Wilson struggled at first, but came on big at the end of the season and will battle for the final rotation spots. Travis d’Arnaud turned out to be a fantastic signing on a two year deal. Marcel Ozuna was signed to fill the clean up spot vacated by Josh Donaldson. He paid the Braves back by having a fantastic season and posting the best OPS line in his career (1.067).
Last but certainly not least, Freddie Freeman was a monster all season long. After his COVID-19 scare to begin the season, Freeman came back and reminded the world that he was still the best first baseman in all of baseball and most likely will win his first NL MVP for his efforts.
Massive Offseason Plans
Many people have been critical of Alex Anthopolous and Liberty Media for not spending money on big contracts. Instead, Anthopolous held his belief in the farm system and waited for them to develop. Last offseason, he knew the bullpen needed to be fixed and the need for more bats in the lineup. He did this by signing the best closer on the market, Will Smith, and went after two of the best offensive players on the market, Ozuna and d’Arnaud. Anthopolous has made great free agent moves in his time with Atlanta.
The issue today is the Braves spent $63,061,931 on their 2020 payroll, do you know where that ranks? That would put them at 14 in baseball, but even more telling that number ranks them as second to last in the NL East. Yes the team that has now won three straight division titles, currently spends the second to least on its roster. For reference, the 2019 World Series champion Washington Nationals rank 11 ($68,317,703), New York Mets rank 6 ($77,603,005), the Philadelphia Phillies rank 5 ($78,643,547) and 2020 NLDS series opponent Miami Marlins rank 27 ($31,330,593). Oh and the NLCS champion Dodgers rank 2 with $107,917,397.
The Braves have to re-sign Marcel Ozuna, but they shouldn’t stop there. They will have to re-sign Mark Melancon or Shane Greene as well. They will try and work a team friendly extension with Freeman. But if they really want to win a world series, there is one guy who has to be near the top of their list.
Trevor Bauer is likely to be this year’s NL CY Yong Award winner. He pitched 73 innings, 100 strikeouts, and a 1.73 ERA. A pitching staff made up of Bauer, Soroka, Fried, and Anderson would be the Braves best staff since the amazing 1990’s staff.
The time to win is now. All of your top prospects including Christian Pache, Ian Anderson, William Contreras, and Bryse Wilson were called up this year. Drew Waters may be next, but the Braves are a team ready to win the world series right now. Boasting a lineup like the one below would be a favorite to win it all in 2021:
CF: Christian Pache
LF: Adam Duvall
RF: Ronald Acuña Jr.
1st: Freddie Freeman
2nd: Ozzie Albies
SS: Dansby Swanson
3rd: Austin Riley
DH: Marcell Ozuna
This is the biggest offseason since Anthopolous was made GM. If played right, the Braves will rival any roster in the MLB. We may not have anymore 2020 Braves baseball to watch, but this offseason should be a lot of fun.