Braves: Brian Snitker is approaching franchise greatness

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There’s a reason there aren’t many articles written on managers, especially during the middle of a season — while there’s those of us that may very well appreciate a skipper and his work throughout a given season, there’s almost always a large group of fans that never liked the hire from Day 1. And it’s no different for Braves’ manager Brian Snitker — who, through 3.5 seasons at the helm, is quickly approaching a group of all-time Braves’ greats.

First in an interim role, after Fredi Gonzalez was fired just 38 games into the 2016 campaign, the then 60-year-old Snitker was quickly rewarded for his replacement efforts (he went 59-65 to finish the season) by earning a one-year contract and an official manager title for the 2017 season (with an option for 2018 as well). 

In 2017, Snitker guided the Braves into what wound up being an end to their rebuild (perhaps a year earlier than initially expected), when the team finished in third-place within the NL East. However, Snitker won over the majority of Braves Country during the 2018 campaign on his way to the NL Manager of the Year award, thanks to a 90-72 record, an NL East title, and a short-lived, but still exciting nonetheless, playoff appearance versus the Dodgers. 

And last season, the momentum continued…

The Braves tallied their most wins since 2003, added another division championship to their collection, and battled for five games in a hard-fought NLDS against the Cardinals. 

There were questionable decisions made along the way, but it’s hard to complain about two trips to the playoffs in the last three years.

Which brings us to the current season. The Braves once again entered 2020 viewed as contenders, and so far, they’ve lived up to the hype. After Monday’s extra-inning loss to the Marlins, the team currently paces the NL East and owns a 24-17 record — despite a duct-taped starting rotation and a prolonged absence by one of their most electric players in the lineup, no. 2 hitter and second baseman, Ozzie Albies. 

Again, questionable choices have been made regarding bullpen usage recently, but all-in-all, Snitker has done everything you could possibly want, at least in terms of his day-to-day job of setting up the Braves for success.

It’s not rocket science, but Snitker has at least consistently tried to push the correct buttons so far this season, and how well the players perform is obviously out of his control. Although, I think it’s safe to say the Braves have played relatively well through the first 41 games. And even during a drastically shortened season, each win is adding to what has been a promising managerial career for Snitker. 

The aforementioned 24 wins so far in 2020 puts Snitker’s overall record as a Braves’ manager at 342-309 — one win ahead of Fred Haney (managed from 1956-59) and 31 shy of tying Casey Stengel (1938-43) for the eighth-most victories all-time among Braves managers. Snitker obviously won’t have the opportunity to catch Stengel this season, but he’ll easily surpass him in 2021. 

In fact, as long as he’s part of the Braves’ long-term plans and remains healthy through the remainder of his 60s, Snitker has a realistic shot at hitting 500 wins, which would make him one of the five-best skippers in franchise history.


All-Time Braves Managers (wins)

  1. Bobby Cox — 2,058  
  2. Frank Selee — 1,004 
  3. George Stallings — 579 
  4. Bill McKechnie — 560 
  5. Fredi Gonzalez — 432 
  6. Billy Southworth — 424 
  7. Lurn Harris — 379 
  8. Casey Stengel — 373
  9. Brian Snitker — 342


Set to turn 65 in October, time certainly isn’t on Snitker’s side right now, given only the Angels’ Joe Maddon (66) and Astros’ Dusty Baker (71) are his senior, among active managers in the majors. However, as you can see from the list above, four or five more seasons could mean a heckuva lot for Snitker as he could possibly move up five more spots in that span on the Braves all-time wins leaderboard.

I haven’t actually dived into the data, but it definitely seems like teams are much more interested in younger managers these days, meaning the chances of Snitker pulling a Bobby Cox and remaining the Braves’ skipper until his age-69 season are probably slim. As of right now, it appears the Braves brass isn’t looking to give out anything long-term yet, given Snitker is technically now on his third extension, with him and his entire coaching staff receiving contracts this past February that’ll guarantee them through 2021. And with the Braves consistently going one-and-done in the playoffs, you have to assume that two more early exits in the postseason would probably result in a change (especially with an impatient fan base and a 66-year-old Snitker entering the 2022 campaign). 

Still, the Braves have been in good hands the last several seasons. And with the type of core currently rostered, there’s a ton of optimism that perhaps Snitker’s best days as the Braves’ manager haven’t even begun. We’ll see how long the team sticks with him, but given his current contract, he should at least pass the guy he replaced back in 2016 (Gonzalez) and become the fifth-most winningest manager in Braves history. And you never know… with a little more time, Snitker could do even better than that by the time it’s all said and done.


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