The Atlanta Braves are going to the World Series for the first time in over 20 years.
That’s not a typo. That’s accurate.
The last time the Atlanta Braves were in the World Series was 1999, where they faced Joe Torre‘s Yankees. Back then, the Braves still had their fabled Glavine, Maddux, and Smoltz rotation, with Chipper Jones at the hot corner and Andruw Jones in center field.
But the differences between those two teams couldn’t be starker. The 1999 Braves were finishing off a decade that dubbed them “America’s Team,” having appeared in five World Series in the decade. That’s dominance on a level we haven’t seen since. From 1991 to 1999, the Braves went to eight National League Championships. That’s insane, but it simply couldn’t last.
The Braves would spend the next six seasons in NLDS hell, failing to move past the opening round of the postseason. To this day, the Braves have only reached the NLCS twice, including their win this season, since the 1999 season.
Now they’re going to the World Series, and it likely won’t take another 22 years for the Braves to get back.
The Braves lineup has been bolstered by the trade deadline acquisitions of Jorge Soler, Joc Pederson, Adam Duvall, and 2021 NLCS MVP Eddie Rosario. The reason for the Braves’ run on available outfielders was the absence of two stars who began their seasons with Atlanta.
Marcell Ozuna has been terrorizing the NL East for years before joining the Braves. Ozuna’s great arm and powerful swing were a welcomed addition to the Braves lineup when he re-signed with Atlanta before this season. But Ozuna’s season was short-lived when he went down after just 48 games.
The most significant blow came when the Braves star right-fielder Ronald Acuña, Jr. went down for the season right before the All-Star break. Acuña is a generational talent who seems like the most likely candidate to join the 40-40 club, hitting 40 home runs and stealing 40 bases in a season. The young outfielder is a threat on defense, and especially at the plate.
Without him, the Braves’ postseason hopes seemed dashed.
The Braves have been kept afloat on the mound by Max Fried, Charlie Morton, and Ian Anderson, all of whom pitched deep into last year’s postseason. Those three men have kept opposing bats at bay, and they’ve done it without a massive piece of their rotation.
Mike Sorota was coming off a rookie season where he finished 6th in Cy Young voting and runner-up for the NL Rookie of the Year. Soroka was the ace of this staff, and it appeared he would be for many years. And then, in his third start of the 2020 season, he tore his ACL and has yet to return to the Braves.
Despite the loss of their future ace, the Braves kept on trucking, and the same arms that got them to the NLCS last season have brought them to the World Series this time around.
This Braves team is good. Very good. But the thing that should make every team in the National League nervous is that they did it without three of their most talented players. This is not the Braves’ final form, and they aren’t going anywhere.
Maybe after waiting 22 years to reach the World Series, they’re going to go on another domination tour as they did in the 1990s.
Buckle up, everyone. The Atlanta Braves are just getting started.
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