ATLANTA — Nobody knew how excellent the Braves truly have been earlier than they received final 12 months’s World Series. But there are a large number of other people who imagine Atlanta is getting into this 12 months’s postseason with a good more potent staff.
“We’re even more hungry to win another one, and we have the team to do it,” Braves reliever A.J. Minter mentioned. “We have a way better team than last year in my opinion.”
Based merely on regular-season effects, it’s simple to argue that this 12 months’s 101-win Braves have been extra bold than the 2021 World Series champs, who entered the postseason with 88 wins. The present Atlanta staff additionally turns out extra struggle examined. Along with having holdovers from final 12 months’s membership, it is a bunch that received a department race in opposition to a Mets staff that still tallied 101 wins.
The Braves overcame the ten 1/2-game June department deficit and the seven-game deficit that existed on Aug. 10. Maybe extra importantly, Atlanta confirmed its talent to upward push to the instance via sweeping a three-game sequence in opposition to the Mets right through the steady season’s ultimate weekend. Those 3 wins gave the Braves the tiebreaker within the NL East and in consequence the simpler trail to this 12 months’s World Series.
Here are 3 the reason why the Braves are better this 12 months:
Deeper rotation: Charlie Morton used to be the Game 1 starter in two of the 3 postseason rounds the Braves performed final 12 months. Depending on Spencer Strider’s standing, there’s a probability Morton would possibly now not get started till Game 4. Max Fried stays some of the recreation’s elite starters and as Kyle Wright accumulated 21 wins this 12 months, he proved to be a professional frontline starter.
As for Strider, who signed a six-year extension Monday, he emerges as some of the recreation’s maximum electrical pitchers as he was the primary Braves rookie to file a 200-strikeout season within the fashionable technology. Strider has recovered from his previously-strained left indirect. The query now could be how some distance can the Braves push him as a starter within the NLDS?
Even if Strider can determine of the bullpen in some of the first two video games after which perhaps function an opener in Game 3 or 4 of the NLDS, the Braves’ rotation can be deeper than the only crammed via Fried, Morton and Ian Anderson final 12 months, when Morton’s fractured leg ended in Tucker Davidson being referred to as up from the change coaching web page to make his 6th profession get started in Game 5 of the World Series. (The Braves have been additionally brief 24 hours previous in Game 4, when Dylan Lee made his 3rd look and primary get started on the giant league stage.)
The Acuña Effect: Had Ronald Acuña now not been injured earlier than the 2021 All-Star destroy, the Braves can have by no means traded for Eddie Rosario, who received the 2021 NLCS MVP, or Jorge Soler, who used to be final 12 months’s World Series MVP. But if given a call between taking Acuña, Soler or Rosario into this 12 months’s postseason, I don’t assume it could take lengthy to come to a decision, particularly now that Acuña has had per week to leisure between the top of the steady season and get started of the postseason.
Acuña struggled to seek out consistency after he got here again this 12 months from a torn proper ACL. But when given an opportunity to leisure his surgically-repaired knee, he confirmed flashes of why he can nonetheless be the sport’s maximum dynamic participant. Along with offering energy and pace offensively, his presence with Michael Harris II within the outfield complements the price of a skilled pitching group of workers.
Sure, the Braves received with out Acuña final 12 months and yeah, he hasn’t been himself maximum of this season. But the occasional off-day right through the postseason may permit this celebrity to give a boost to the .872 OPS he has via 94 profession postseason plate appearances.
Deeper lineup: The Braves had 8 avid gamers hit a minimum of 15 homers this 12 months for the primary time in franchise historical past. They completed this in spite of Adam Duvall and Ozzie Albies struggling accidents that left them in need of 15 homers, only one 12 months when they each tallied extra than 30.
It’s additionally price noting that the Braves won 96 RBIs from the 9th spot of their lineup. This is the second-highest general in MLB historical past, trailing most effective the 1996 Rangers, who drove in 100 runs from the lineup’s final spot. Just 5 groups in MLB historical past have won a minimum of 90 RBIs from the 9th spot. Two of the ones have been the Braves and Dodgers this 12 months.