2016 Record: 68-93
2016 Finish: 26th in the MLB, 13th in NL
2016 in Review
The Atlanta Braves began the year with a bang. The Shelby Miller trade, or what we know refer to as “quite possibly the worst trade of all time,” was huge in setting up the Braves for their 2nd half renaissance. For those of you who have no idea what I’m talking about, I’ll break it down. The Arizona Diamondbacks got cocky after they signed Zach Greinke and decided to go after another pitcher to round out their rotation. They set their sights on Braves pitcher Shelby Miller and his 3.02 ERA in 2015 and decided to set up a trade. In exchange for Shelby Miller, the Diamondbacks were willing to give up Outfielder Ender Inciarte, Pitcher Aaron Blair and the First Pick of the 2015 draft, Dansby Swanson. There was a “wait and see” aspect to the deal, where all of us waited patiently to see just how stupid the Diamondbacks would look, and boy did they ever. Shelby Miller went 3-12, with an ERA above 6.00, and the Dansby Swanson Era in Atlanta began.
Surprises and Disappointments
Instead of going into what happened throughout the season, I think it’s best to focus on what happened in the second half. The first half of the Braves season went about as everyone expected, starting off with a nine-game losing streak. At the All-Star break the Braves were 31-58, and struggling to keep their heads above water. The final season at Turner Field was on track to be the worst losing season by any Atlanta Braves team, but things turned around. In the second half of 2016, the Atlanta Braves would have a winning record, finally coming above .500. How? They put together a goddamn baseball team.
The Braves added Matt Kemp at the deadline and gave the Padres virtually nothing in return. This provided some well needed offensive protection for Freddie Freeman in the lineup. With the playoffs out of reach, the Braves called up Swanson in mid-August and things exploded. With Swanson in the lineup, the Braves went 23-15 and finished off the season going 11-2 in their final two weeks.
This Braves team was dangerous, a force to be reckoned with, something they were not at the beginning of the season. In the second half, they seemed to have all of their weapons in place. Inciarte had speed on the base paths, Freeman will blossom into one of the league’s best hitters, Swanson is a wizard at short, and Julio Teheran finally looked ready to become a bonafide Ace. The Braves showed up, and they’re not going anywhere. There’s nothing disappointing about that.
The Braves have made it known that they are not okay with staying in the basement. The activity on the markets and the deals they’ve brokered this offseason are evidence of that. The two signings of Bartolo Colon and R.A. Dickey provide pitching depth as well as veteran leadership, two things the Braves need to rebuild. There was also the blocked trade of Brandon Phillips, who would have been playing for his hometown team were he to have allowed the trade to go through. There have even been talks of the Braves looking at Chris Archer and Jose Quintana, who have been linked to the Nationals and other competitive teams. The Braves are ready to go into Sun Trust Stadium and compete. How long until we see October baseball in Atlanta? I don’t know, but it might be sooner than you think.