2022 Braves higher than 2021 World Sequence champions

October 11, 2022

ATLANTA — No person knew how good the Braves actually have been earlier than they received final yr’s World Sequence. However there are a whole lot of of us who imagine Atlanta is coming into this yr’s postseason with a good stronger crew.

“We’re much more hungry to win one other one, and we’ve the crew to do it,” Braves reliever A.J. Minter stated. “We have now a approach higher crew than final yr for my part.”

Minter’s opinion will start to be examined because the Braves start a best-of-five Nationwide League Division Sequence in opposition to the Phillies at 1:07 p.m. ET at Truist Park.

Based mostly merely on regular-season outcomes, it’s straightforward to argue that this yr’s 101-win Braves have been extra formidable than the 2021 World Sequence champs, who entered the postseason with 88 wins. The present Atlanta crew additionally appears extra battle examined. Together with having holdovers from final yr’s membership, this can be a bunch that received a division race in opposition to a Mets crew that additionally tallied 101 wins.

The Braves overcame the ten 1/2-game June division deficit and the seven-game deficit that existed on Aug. 10. Perhaps extra importantly, Atlanta confirmed its capacity to rise to the event by sweeping a three-game sequence in opposition to the Mets throughout the common season’s last weekend. These three wins gave the Braves the tiebreaker within the NL East and consequently the better path to this yr’s World Sequence.

Listed below are three the explanation why the Braves are higher this yr:

Deeper rotation: Charlie Morton was the Sport 1 starter in two of the three postseason rounds the Braves performed final yr. Relying on Spencer Strider’s standing, there’s a probability Morton may not begin till Sport 4. Max Fried stays one of many recreation’s elite starters and as Kyle Wright collected 21 wins this yr, he proved to be a legit frontline starter.

As for Strider, who signed a six-year extension Monday, he emerges as one of many recreation’s most electrical pitchers as he grew to become the primary Braves rookie to file a 200-strikeout season within the fashionable period. Strider has recovered from his previously-strained left indirect. The query now’s how far can the Braves push him as a starter within the NLDS?

Even when Strider can work out of the bullpen in one of many first two video games after which probably function an opener in Sport 3 or 4 of the NLDS, the Braves’ rotation could be deeper than the one stuffed by Fried, Morton and Ian Anderson final yr, when Morton’s fractured leg led to Tucker Davidson being known as up from the alternate coaching website to make his sixth profession begin in Sport 5 of the World Sequence. (The Braves have been additionally quick 24 hours earlier in Sport 4, when Dylan Lee made his third look and first begin on the massive league degree.)

The Acuña Impact: Had Ronald Acuña not been injured earlier than the 2021 All-Star break, the Braves could have by no means traded for Eddie Rosario, who received the 2021 NLCS MVP, or Jorge Soler, who was final yr’s World Sequence MVP. But when given a alternative between taking Acuña, Soler or Rosario into this yr’s postseason, I don’t assume it might take lengthy to decide, particularly now that Acuña has had per week to relaxation between the top of the common season and begin of the postseason.

Acuña struggled to seek out consistency after he got here again this yr from a torn proper ACL. However when given an opportunity to relaxation his surgically-repaired knee, he confirmed flashes of why he can nonetheless be the sport’s most dynamic participant. Together with offering energy and velocity offensively, his presence with Michael Harris II within the outfield enhances the worth of a gifted pitching workers.

Positive, the Braves received with out Acuña final yr and yeah, he hasn’t been himself most of this season. However the occasional off-day throughout the postseason may enable this famous person to enhance the .872 OPS he has via 94 profession postseason plate appearances.

Deeper lineup: The Braves had eight gamers hit no less than 15 homers this yr for the primary time in franchise historical past. They achieved this regardless of Adam Duvall and Ozzie Albies struggling accidents that left them wanting 15 homers, only one yr after they each tallied greater than 30.

It’s additionally value noting that the Braves acquired 96 RBIs from the ninth spot of their lineup. That is the second-highest complete in MLB historical past, trailing solely the 1996 Rangers, who drove in 100 runs from the lineup’s final spot. Simply 5 groups in MLB historical past have acquired no less than 90 RBIs from the ninth spot. Two of these have been the Braves and Dodgers this yr.

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