In a 6-2 run loss to Los Angeles Dodgers on October 8, the Atlanta Braves were bounced out of the National League Division Series. Off the heels of a near sweep – marked by a 6-0 and a 3-0 loss at Dodger Stadium to start the series – the Braves’ playoff contention was prolonged only one game by their October 7th night 5-6 victory at Suntrust Park. But despite a hasty playoff exit, the Atlanta Braves are already looking forward to next year’s season.
The Braves significantly overachieved throughout the regular season; Las Vegas sports bettors predicted a 75-win season for Atlanta, a total they bested by 15 wins. For fans, this was not only a year to remember but also an indication of the Braves’ inevitable success in the near future. In the midst of a multiple year rebuilding program, the Braves have risen from the bottom of their conference to the top of their division. Led by power-hitting rookie right-fielder Ronald Acuña, and supported by a developing retinue of young pitchers to complement veterans Kevin Gausman and Sean Newcomb, the Braves have the potential to become a force in the National League for years to come.
The Braves started off the season with notable barriers to success. A resurgent Philadelphia Phillies team and a Washington Nationals squad that boasted superstar power – including Bryce Harper, this year’s Home Run Derby champion, and Max Scherzer, winner of the 2017 Cy Young Award – both threatened the Braves, but a late-season push propelled Atlanta to the postseason.
Though swiftly dispelled by a talented Los Angeles Dodgers team, last year’s runners-up in the World Series, the team’s resolve was was unwavering. “It was a great ride,” said Braves manager Brian Snitker; “It’s sad. I mean, you know, we got this far, and after winning…we kind of thought, well, maybe we can pull this off. But they never quit. They never stopped fighting all year. It was an unbelievable group to be around.”
As off-season begins for the hometown favorites, Snitker and the entire clubhouse staff have an opportunity to maximize the potential of both the team’s current roster and the club’s highly-rated minor league prospects before Opening Day of the 2019 season. With high hopes, a young core, and potential for improvement, the Braves have the capability to become a reckoning force throughout the MLB in the coming years.