Let’s rip the bandage off and say congratulations to the Atlanta Braves for winning the 2021 World Series.
There. We said it. Now, we’ll collectively never acknowledge that fact again.
It’s been painful to watch not just one, but 2, rival NL East teams reach the pinnacle of baseball in the past 3 seasons. While our stomachs are all writhing in agony, there are several takeaways from the Braves 2021 season that the Phillies must learn from.
The Trade Deadline
On July 30th, the Braves were 51-53 and coming off of series wins against both the Phillies and Mets. Despite being 5 games back in the division, General Manager Alex Anthopoulos went to work.
In the afternoon of July 30th, the Braves somehow swung 4 separate deals to bring in 3 outfielders and a reliever. Get this, they gave up next to nothing in the trades. For a AAAA starter, a AAAA catcher, a low-minors reliever, a low-minors starter, and Pablo Sandoval the Braves received Jorge Soler, Adam Duvall, Richard Rodriguez, and Eddie Rosario.
While the Phillies rightfully traded for a starter and closer (no matter how mediocre), all they did to help the offense was bring back Freddy Galvis. Let me reiterate the fact that THE BRAVES TRADED PABLO SANDOVAL FOR EDDIE ROSARIO.
The Phillies improved at the deadline, but they didn’t address their depth which proved to be fatal after losing Rhys Hoskins down the stretch.
The Braves were smart with trades and payroll at the deadline. Like Dave Dombrowski said at the end of the season, “Payroll is not the issue for us. We’ve got plenty of payroll. It’s how we use the payroll. We need to be smarter on it.”
Bullpens Win Championships
From the start of August until the end of the regular season, the Phillies recorded the 7th worst bullpen ERA in the majors (4.69). In that same span, the Braves had the 4th best ERA at 3.29.
Their bullpen’s performance has propelled them in the playoffs. In game 4 of the World Series, Chris Martin, Tyler Matzek, Luke Jackson, and Will Smith combined for 4 shutout innings. They’d win that game 3-2.
Speaking of Will Smith, the Atlanta closer had a 3.44 ERA in the regular season. In the postseason, he pitched in 11 games with 11 shutout innings and 6 saves.
The Braves also got a ridiculous performance from 37-year-old Jesse Chavez. He had 6.1 shutout IP in the postseason and posted a 2.14 ERA in the regular season with his highest K/9 since 2012.
If the Phillies want a shot of beating the Braves in 2022, they’re going to need to prioritize the bullpen.
Homers Make Things Easier
The Braves hit 23 home runs this postseason in 16 games. In the regular season, they had power all over the field, recording 239 homers. That was good for 3rd most in all of the majors.
All of the top 4 teams in homers made the playoffs. In fact, every team that has finished 4th or better in regular-season home runs has made the playoffs since the 2017 Texas Rangers.
Every single starting infielder for the Braves had 27+ home runs in the regular season. In just 55 games apiece, Jorge Soler and Adam Duvall hit 14 and 16 home runs, respectfully.
Jorge Soler would hit 3 home runs in 6 World Series games en route to a World Series MVP award.
The Phillies finished tied with the Cardinals at 15th in home runs. The Phillies’ biggest concern in this category going into 2022 will be replacing Andrew McCutchen’s 27 home runs in left field.
Photo Credit: Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire