The Atlanta Braves: A Loss of Playoff Hopes to World Series Champions

Following a distasteful ending to their 2020 season, the Atlanta Braves blew a 3-1 series lead over the Los Angeles Dodgers in the National League Championship Series. The Dodgers would go on to win the World Series that year. The Braves put the past behind them and looked for redemption in 2021.

With projections leaning toward another first-place finish in the National League East division, the Braves entered the season with a similar roster to their dominant 2019 and 2020 rosters. 

Although the first half of the Braves’ season confused most of the baseball world as halfway through the season the Braves sat at a 44-45 (Win-Loss) record, third in their division and 4.5 games back from first.

After attempting to make a leaping catch in right field, Braves’ star-studded outfielder Ronald Acuna Jr. tore his ACL, cutting his season short. Acuna was one of the hottest hitters in the league before this injury and his absence had a lasting impact on the Braves. (Photo taken from The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

These struggles tied back to the loss of two of their top hitters, Marcell Ozuna and Ronald Acuna Jr. Ozuna was arrested and charged with aggravated assault on May 28, and Acuna suffered a season-ending knee injury on July 10. Starting pitcher, Mike Soroka was also unable to make his return in 2021 due to injuries. 

A team with a 7.3% chance to make the playoffs slowly gained momentum in the second half. The Braves did not climb over .500 for good until Aug 8, when they were 57-56. Seven days later they moved into sole possession of first place in the NL East for the first time all year.

Atlanta spent only 51 days in first place this season, the fewest among all division leaders. In wake of their losses in the outfield, Acuna and Ozuna, General Manager Alex Anthopoulos brought in 4 veterans: Adam Duvall, Joc Pederson, Eddie Rosario, and Jorge Soler. Each player paid dividends throughout the regular season and the playoffs. 

The Braves clinched their fourth consecutive NL East division title with a 88-73 record and were set to face the Milwaukee Brewers in the National League Division series. Their bats pushed through to defeat Milwaukee’s dominant pitching staff and book a trip with the 106 win and 2020 World Series Champion, the Los Angeles Dodgers. 

One of Atlanta’s newest additions, Eddie Rosario had a .560 batting average and hit three home runs with 9 RBIs during this series. As a result, Rosario was awarded the NLCS MVP. With the Dodgers eliminated, a total upset, the Braves awaited the arrival of the Houston Astros.

Jorge Soler crushes a 3 run shot at Minute Maid Park to give the Braves a lead in game 6 of the World Series against the Houston Astros. After crushing three home runs (all go-ahead) in the series, Jorge Soler became the World Series MVP. (Photo taken from CNN)

In a 6 game series, the Braves came out on top and won their first world series since 1995. Another new addition to the team, Jorge Soler hit .300 with three homers and six RBIs. He is the sixth player with three go-ahead homers in a single World Series and posted a slugging percentage of .800.

 Soler’s 3-run blast in game 6 was one of the most memorable moments of the series. During this deciding game, starter, Max Fried dominated after pitching 6 innings and only giving up 4 hits. The rest of the offense came from Freddie Freeman and Dansby Swanson in the 7-0 victory. 

In 2021, a year where most Braves fans lost hope halfway through the season, also had the chance to witness their favorite team hoist the World Series trophy above their heads. Despite a year filled with obstacles, the Atlanta Braves were able to overcome them and reach every ballplayer’s dream, win the World Series.