Braves: Alex Anthopoulos, A Tale of Thirds

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Alex Anthopoulos brought Braves fans their 4th straight NL East title with hopefully more to come as the Braves are currently up 3-1 on the Dodgers with their ace Max Fried toeing the rubber tonight. We all know the deadline story. Anthopoulos went out and bought a brand new outfield, acquiring Joc Pederson, Adam Duvall, Jorge Soler, and Eddie Rosario. When looking at the nightly box scores since their acquisitions, you’d be hard-pressed to find a game where at least one of those four didn’t make a significant contribution. And now that we’re into the postseason, all four have contributed to get the Braves where they currently stand, especially Eddie Rosario, who’s turned into the talk of baseball with an insane .583 batting average in the NLCS. Anthopoulos stated several times that he never had intentions of selling. He knew there was a lot of luck that wasn’t going the team’s way. With a run differential that was near the top in the NL, Anthopoulos was aware that the biggest weakness in the Braves lineup was the same weakness that was present on day 1: depth. He solved that. Today’s piece, “Alex Anthopoulos, a Tale of Thirds” will look at the philosophy that Alex abides by and how it helped the team win the NL East and more.

Alex Anthopoulos, A Tale of Thirds: The First 1/3

If you’re privy to math, 162/3= 54 games. When discussing a season, Anthopoulos likes to utilize the first 54 to see the team’s needs and work at fixing the team internally and/or through small acquisitions. Through the first 54, the Braves were 26-28. Game 54 came on June 3rd, and at that point, the Braves, since the beginning of the season, had called up (or purchased contract), or acquired,(whether through trade, claim, signing, or recall) the following players:

Pitcher Candidates: Jesse Biddle, Edgar Santana, Dylan Lee, Jesse Chavez, Jose Rodriguez, Will Latcham, Chris Nunn, Trevor Kelley, Carl Edwards Jr., Nate Jones, Jake McSteen, Shane Greene, Victor Arano, Jay Flaa, Tanner Roark, Yoan Lopez, and Malcom Van Buren.

Catching Candidates: Alex Jackson, Jonathan Lucroy, Tyler Flowers,  and Jeff Mathis.

Breakdown: There were more transactions (crazy, right?), but this definitely tells a big story. The Braves were scrambling for bullpen help, but weren’t to the point where they were comfortable in making a big splash in the trade market. It was a painstaking process with some terrible results from most, but in the end, Edgar Santana solidified some middle innings and ended the year pitching in 41 games with a 3.59 ERA, and Chavez pitched in 30 games with a 2.14 ERA.

Travis d’Arnaud was sidelined in early May, and the Braves were left with the choice of young, inexperienced catchers who could hit a bit behind the plate or old veterans that could call a game but might as well’ve not brought a bat to the box. They ended up going with the latter. Did it work? Meh. Kevan Smith, who the Braves pitchers said they loved throwing to, didn’t help matters in the W/L department, as they were 14-16 while he was behind the dish, even though the pitchers had sparkling ERAs when he was catching them.

Alex Anthopoulos, A Tale of Thirds: The Second 1/3

With one hole seemingly filled by Edgar Santana finding success, games 55-108 (really through 103, as that’s right before the deadline) showed the Braves they needed help in the outfield (with the loss of Ronald Acuna Jr. for the year and Marcell Ozuna for the year with injury and domestic violence), and still more help in the bullpen and behind the dish. They countered with these transactions:

Catching: Signed Cesar Rodriguez, traded for Stephen Vogt

Bullpen: Traded for Ty Tice, selected Jesse Chavez and Tanner Roark’s contract, recalled Jacob Webb, recalled Shane Greene

Outfield: Selected contract of Abraham Almonte, activated Guillermo Heredia, recalled Orlando Arcia, traded for Joc Pederson.

Breakdown: Jesse Chavez was the real win for Anthopoulos here as he solidified the middle innings, which had become quite brutal for the Braves, especially while Shane Greene was on the mound. Both Abraham Almonte and Guillermo Heredia served a purpose and helped keep the seat warm, neither really helping the Braves win all the while not directly contributing to losses either. Grabbing Joc Pederson two weeks before the deadline seemed to add a Josh Donaldson arrogance to the team (which seemed needed). However, it didn’t help in the W/L column as the Braves still went into the deadline two games below .500.

The Decision

Two games below .500 on July 30th…the last day before the trade deadline, and Anthopoulos had seemingly filled two needs by cycling through dozens of bullpen candidates and finding success with Jesse Chavez and Edgar Santana. Kyle Muller was looking like a nice pitcher to slot in behind Charlie Morton and Max Fried. Adding to that, Ian Anderson and Huascar Ynoa would be back soon. All eyes turned to the outfield… an outfield that ran out Abraham Almonte, Guillermo Heredia, and, before Joc Pederson, Ehire Adrianza or Orlando Arcia. It was no secret the Braves were desperate for OF help. They went all-in on a deal for Bryan Reynolds, of which the Pirates declined. But still, Anthopoulos was given the green light from Terry McGuirk to add, and add he did.

Alex Anthopoulos, A Tale of Thirds: The Third 1/3

What do you do when your OF is filled with replacement-level players? You replace them. All of them. We know the story. Anthopoulos traded peanuts for Jorge Soler, Adam Duvall, Eddie Rosario, Joc Pederson, and Richard Rodriguez. The following stats are why the Braves won the division and are a big part of why they are up 3-1 in the NLCS

  • Jorge Soler: .882 OPS, 14 HRs
  • Joc Pederson: .752 OPS, 7 HRs, 1.114  OPS in Playoffs
  • Eddie Rosario: .903 OPS 7 HRs, 1.248 OPS in Playoffs
  • Adam Duvall: .800 OPS, 16 HRs, .808 OPS in Playoffs

Also in the third 1/3, the Braves brought back A.J. Minter and Jacob Webb after “get right” sessions down at AAA, and it worked. The Third 1/3, starting the day after the trade deadline, the Braves went 37-19. Add in the playoffs, and the Braves have gone 43-21. That’s a .672 winning percentage and, ladies and gents, that’ll play with anyone.

Thanks for reading “Alex Anthopoulos, A Tale of Thirds”. If you like our work, don’t miss Chase’s piece on “Trade Acquisitions that Must be Retained”.

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