4. Moving Matt Olson to cleanup
By now the entire baseball world knows what kind of season Braves’ slugger, Matt Olson has put together. However, it wasn’t the smoothest of starts for Mr. Olson. The Braves were batting him second in the lineup in the beginning of the year and after another hot spring training he came out the gates hot.
Unfortunately, by the beginning of June Olson had slowed down quite a bit and couldn’t string together consecutive good games. Snit decided it was time for a lineup change and dropped Olson down to fifth for about a week. Olson flashed signs of coming out of his slump, and that prompted Snit to move him to fourth in the lineup, a place he hasn’t left since.
In fact, the numbers Olson has put up since moving to cleanup are otherworldly. Just take a moment to look at these eye-popping statistics since June 23rd from Fangraphs.
- .327/.427/.692 slash line
- 32 home runs
- .458 wOBA
- 191 wRC+
- 14.7 BB% & 17.9 K%
All of these numbers make it easy to see why Olson has solidified himself an at worst fourth place finish in the NL MVP voting. I’m not a huge pound the table guy with lineup construction, but Olson has clearly found comfort in batting cleanup for Atlanta.
5. Adding quality depth at the deadline
The last key decision we have to touch on here is Atlanta’s trade deadline acquisitions. By mid-July the Braves had already established themselves as one of the best teams in baseball. However, that didn’t prevent Anthopoulos from adding more talent to the roster.
The Braves had a desire to add in the same areas most contending teams do at the deadline. That of course being pitching, you can never have enough pitching as they say. So the Braves went out and snagged a couple lottery ticket bullpen arms from Colorado.
Credit to AA and his team for having an eye for a guy like Pierce Johnson, who’s numbers were terrible when they acquired him, but his peripherals foreshadowed a bounce back. Since getting out of Coors, Johnson has a 0.79 ERA. 3.08 FIP, 0.926 WHIP, and 5.8 strikeout to walk ratio in 23 games with Atlanta. Johnson has certainly earned himself important postseason innings.
The other reliever AA brought in from Colorado was veteran lefty Brad Hand. He hasn’t been as effective as Johnson, but Hand could be leaned on as a lefty specialist come October. And thanks to his great slider, he still proves more than formidable at getting LHH out.
Lastly was the trade for backup infielder Nicky Lopez. It’s much harder for Lopez to see game action than the relievers because of how dynamic the Braves regulars are, but when he has been needed he has been stellar. When Ozzie went down with the hamstring tightness, Lopez proved more than capable of handling the job until he returned.
Lopez seems to make a special defensive play every time he is in the field, and this is a trade that will benefit the Braves for years to come. All of these trades brought a positive impact on this already loaded roster, thus why we gave it such a good grade in our review.