Earlier this offseason, I talked at length about how the Braves needed a philosophy change this offseason. Alex Anthopoulos’ focus should no longer be purely on equating dollars to WAR and winning as many games as possible. The Braves already have enough talent on the roster to win the NL East ten times over. The focus when it comes to offseason acquisitions must be purely tailored to winning in the postseason.
From a WAR perspective, it will tell you that Kyle Schwarber and Nick Castellanos aren’t valuable players. We know from experience that isn’t the case. Defensive warts aside, they can make the difference in any given playoff series. The same can be said about Jorge Soler and Joc Pederson, two heroes of the Braves 2021 World Series run.
The kind of confidence and swagger these kind of players bring to the postseason stage cannot be calculated on a spreadsheet. It’s contagious and spreads throughout an entire clubhouse like a wildfire.
The Braves need to find leaders in the clubhouse that don’t blink in the face of adversity, and of course, more pitching. But it’s also important not to overreact to a four-game sample size. The Braves don’t need wholesale changes, but a different philosophical approach to the offseason would be wise, and Alex Anthopoulos recognizes that.
“I’d love to chalk it up to randomness,” Anthopoulos said, via Mark Bowman of MLB.com. “The problem is, the feeling is so awful and it stays with you for such a long time that you don’t make yourself feel any better by just saying it’s random. So you’re always going to look for reasons.”
The Braves have featured elite offenses in each of the last two seasons, including one of the best lineups of all time this year. However, they were no match for the Phillies pitching staff in October. Unfortunately, there’s not much they can fix in that aspect. This lineup is essentially set in stone. They just have to hope they answer the bell next time around, but there are other areas where the Braves can improve to increase their chances in the postseason. Run prevention is the name of the game in October, and the Braves have been good, not great, in that area.
“You have to be careful you don’t overweigh a four-game sample size,” Anthopoulos said, via Mark Bowman of MLB.com. “But I don’t think you can ignore it either. I know that’s two answers in one. But, we have general ideas and thoughts. It likely will influence what we do this offseason, which is why I’m probably not going to get into it because I don’t want people to know what we’re trying to do, other than we want to make the team better.”
One would assume a top priority for the Braves would be pitching depth. Because of injuries, they haven’t had enough quality starters for the playoffs in back-to-back seasons. Given Kyle Wright is already out for the 2024 campaign, it’s possible we see them add multiple rotation arms to ensure they are not short-handed entering October for the third year in a row.
Could it also be possible that we see a slight philosophical shift offensively? The Braves have enough guys that can mash balls into the bleachers, and usually the team that hits the most home runs wins in October. However, the long ball is something that comes and goes in waves. Relying solely on that for run production can backfire, as we’ve seen in the last two years. Perhaps we see the Braves go more of the contact route in left field, somebody that can set the table for the middle of the order, putting tons of pressure on opposing pitchers.
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