The Braves have had more success than just about any other team in the regular season over the last two seasons. It’s a testament to Alex Anthopoulos and the roster he’s constructed; however, that regular season success has not led to championship rings at the end of October.
The Braves are 2-6 in their last eight postseason games, failing to make it out of the NLDS while they watch their division rivals march to the World Series. The best team in baseball doesn’t always win the World Series, and after the Phillies beat the Braves a year ago, it could be chalked up to the randomness of the game. But twice in a row in almost the exact same fashion? Those faults can no longer be overlooked if the Braves want to get back to baseball’s biggest stage.
When looking at how Alex Anthopoulos has constructed his roster in recent years, it’s a very Moneyball-like approach. Of course, the Braves have much more cash to spend than the A’s did back in the day, but it’s the same thought process in that it’s all about value. How can X amount of dollars turn into the most wins on the field. Anthopoulos has become a master at this approach, and it’s resulted in 205 wins over the last two seasons and a couple more division titles.
I’m of the belief the Braves don’t need to make wholesale changes. The core of this team is intact for the foreseeable future, and it’s plenty talented enough to win multiple World Series. With that being said, there does need to be a philosophy change when it comes to this year’s offseason moves.
The Braves don’t need to be scouring the free agency market looking for guys who can contribute to their regular season win total. With no additions, they are good enough to win a division title. They’ve proven it year after year. The focus of this offseason needs to be zoned in completely on how to win in October.
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. In hindsight, the Braves should have never let Pederson or Soler walk out the door in free agency, but it’s never too late to learn from your mistakes.
The other aspect of the game that also leads to much more success in October is the bullpen. During the regular season, having 6-7 high-leverage relievers — particularly ones that possess elite velocity — may seem like overkill. But in October, they can be the difference between a first-round exit and a World Series.
Those are the areas Anthopoulos has seemingly overlooked when constructing the roster over the last two years. If he hadn’t, Pederson and Soler likely would still be wearing Braves uniforms, and perhaps the last two postseason results would have gone differently.
Chasing after regular season wins should no longer be the goal. Constructing a roster that is built for October needs to be the sole focus of this offseason and for many more in the future.
Photographer: David J. Griffin/Icon Sportswire