Braves Eliminate Padres, Who Are the Braves?

For more Braves content, follow us on Twitter at @thedailybraves

Even though Atlanta lost the first game of their stay in San Diego, that game was a makeup game part of an earlier series in Atlanta that was rained out. So, while they won three of four, they swept the series at San Diego.

The sweep’s biggest postseason consequence was the mathematical elimination of the San Diego Padres from postseason contention. What that means is San Diego does not have enough remaining regular season games to overtake the teams ahead of them in their division or in the National League Wildcard standings.

But wait. Weren’t the Padres favorites in the preseason to reach the World Series this year? Didn’t last season’s Braves closer Mark Melancon say he joined the Padres to become “part of a winner”? Something’s not adding up.

How could the team projected by computer algorithms to finish fourth in the NL East sweep those same Padres to eliminate them from the postseason before it begins while also adding to their division lead?

It’s almost as if the accumulation of available talent shouldn’t be the beginning and end of your General Manager’s offseason strategy; rather, the improvements to the roster’s weaknesses by acquiring the right player and locker room dynamic.

A vast majority of today’s General Managers seem to discount the human element in a possible personnel acquisition. In a baseball world paralyzed by the inundation of analytics, the GM’s who use past statistics, trends, & also teammate testimonials to influence their decision-making are usually the GM’s that find success.

One traditional way to phrase that is “he just needed a change of scenery”. Why? Baseball in Atlanta has the same rules as baseball in Kansas City. Baseball mechanics applied to on-field incidents produce the same outcomes in Atlanta as they do in Chicago. Relationships. How a person reacts to a manager’s style of communication matters. The clubhouse vibe matters. The difference in unspoken expectations & standards between one ball club and the next matters. The personal history a player has with a fanbase matters.

The Braves are a shining example of how a cohesive clubhouse can overcome gaps in ability. Freddie Freeman is universally regarded as the most wholesome player in baseball, as well as one of the best teammates in baseball. A clubhouse leader who’s reputation is known before he even meets a new teammate matters. His years of consistent production & clubhouse presence has given him the social currency within the game of baseball akin to that of Bill Gates’ actual financial wealth.

Add in Ozzie Albies & Ronald Acuña Jr., two superstars who are playing baseball for peanuts in today’s free agent market in correlation with their production. They haven’t complained once about their contract and how it compares to other players’. They’re there to win baseball games. Would they like to be paid more? I’m sure of it, but it’s evident that those two show up to the ballpark because they love the game & who they’re playing it with.

You can easily say “those are three superstars, of course they’re having fun”. Then you look at the rest of the Braves roster and you find guys that are excelling, that: were signed off of an independent ball club, were known for being injured, were up & down between MLB and AAA, were players to be named later, were thought of as useless at the plate unless the pitcher was right-handed, etc., while the rest of the roster averages less than 3 years of MLB service time.

In no data-driven world does that list of players have a chance to win their division for the fourth season in a row after coming within one inside fastball to Cody Bellinger from reaching the World Series. But the Braves are exactly that team.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s