Are the 2022 Braves better than the 2021 Braves?

Braves Olson

Are the 2022 Braves better than the 2021 Braves? – About a week ago, I was asked by a Mets fan on Twitter what I thought about this year’s Braves squad and how they compared to the team that won the World Series last season. He was polite and genuinely curious because he didn’t have many opportunities to watch the Braves this year, so I thought I would give him an entire article to discuss the topic. Unfortunately, I’m not sure he is going to like my answer.

The 2021 squad wasn’t a World Series-caliber team until after the trade deadline. From that point on, they were far and away the best team in baseball, going 36-18 over their final 54 games and cruising through the playoffs. They didn’t just win the World Series, they made juggernauts like the Dodgers and Astros look helpless, never even facing an elimination game. So a casual fan might say something like, “The Braves only won 88 games. They were the worst World Series team ever,” but in reality, they were the best team in baseball for three months. There was nothing lucky about it.

With that being said, the 2021 Braves can’t hold a candle to this year’s squad. The 2022 Braves are better in all phases of the game — from the bullpen, to the rotation, to the lineup.

Lineup

2021 Braves 2022 Braves
1. Eddie Rosario Ronald Acuña Jr.
2. Jorge Soler Dansby Swanson
3. Freddie Freeman Matt Olson
4. Austin Riley Austin Riley
5. Adam Duvall Travis d’Arnaud
6. Joc Pederson Marcell Ozuna/William Contreras
7. Ozzie Albies Adam Duvall/Eddie Rosario
8. Travis d’Arnaud Ozzie Albies
9. Dansby Swanson Michael Harris II

As you can see, these are two absolutely stacked lineups, but there are a few reasons I think this year’s is better. First and foremost, Ronald Acuña Jr. is back. He’s a top-five player in baseball, and while Jorge Soler was great for the Braves, he’s not the same caliber of player as Acuña.

The second factor is the emergence of Dansby Swanson and Michael Harris II. Swanson has gone from an average offensive player to a legitimate MVP candidate, and there’s no reason to believe he’s going to slow down. Meanwhile, Michael Harris II has burst onto the scene as the youngest player in the Majors and is now a favorite to take home the NL Rookie of the Year award.

Finally, the depth of this group has improved. With Eddie Rosario back and healthy, he’s just another weapon at Brian Snitker‘s disposal. And William Contreras, another player who has emerged as an All-Star candidate in just his second season, gives the Braves 11 legitimate threats to hit 20+ bombs in a season. That is something you will not find anywhere else in baseball.

Rotation

2021 Braves 2022 Braves
Max Fried Max Fried
Charlie Morton Kyle Wright
Ian Anderson Charlie Morton
Drew Smyly Spencer Strider
Huascar Ynoa Ian Anderson

This is where the differences begin to get much more noticeable. The 2021 staff was essentially a three-headed monster; Smyly and Ynoa barely played a role in the postseason. The 2022 staff, on the other hand, is among the best in the Majors.

Max Fried is a legitimate NL Cy Young candidate. Kyle Wright is on pace to win 18 games and could also be selected to his first All-Star game. Charlie Morton began the season sluggishly, but he’s quickly looking like the guy who led the Braves’ rotation a year ago. Spencer Strider might have the best stuff in the game right now, and is there a better fifth starter than Ian Anderson? Not to mention, Mike Soroka is on his way back, and Kyle Muller is shoving in AAA. This rotation is absolutely loaded this season; quite the contrast from where they were a year ago.

Bullpen

2021 Braves 2022 Braves
Will Smith Kenley Jansen
Tyler Matzek AJ Minter
AJ Minter Collin McHugh
Jesse Chavez Tyler Matzek
Luke Jackson Will Smith
Chris Martin Jesse Chavez
Edgar Santana Darren O’Day
Josh Tomlin Dylan Lee

The gap between the ’21 and ’22 rotations is huge, but it might be even greater between the two bullpens. For most of last season, the Braves’ relief corps was an inconsistent mess. Thankfully, they got hot at the right time and were lights-out in the playoffs. However, the 2022 bullpen is probably the best overall unit in the Majors this season. They rank first in nearly every statistic, and they haven’t been at full strength once this entire season.

https://twitter.com/BravesOnBally/status/1543983587661332483

I didn’t even include Kirby Yates, who could be on his way back for the final couple months of the season. It’s a night-and-day difference, and it’s another reason why I believe the Braves have the best overall pitching staff in the majors.

The 2021 Braves were fantastic. Despite what the haters might say, you don’t get lucky for three straight months. They were the best team in baseball, and they’re even better this year, putting themselves in a perfect position to be the first organization to repeat since the 2000 Yankees.

Photo: Rich von Biberstein/Icon Sportswire

Comments

comments

Scroll to Top
%d bloggers like this: