6 Iconic Braves Moments From The Last Six Years of Division Dominance

Six Years, Six Division Titles. The 2023 Atlanta Braves may be one of the best ever but the 5 years leading to this point are littered with incredible moments.

Atlanta Braves v Philadelphia Phillies
Atlanta Braves v Philadelphia Phillies / Tim Nwachukwu/GettyImages
6 of 7

A lot can happen in 6 years and that's especially true when it comes to the Atlanta Braves organization. The Braves experienced a tough rebuild and even had to replace their general manager just a year prior to the 2018 season. There were a lot of unknowns heading into this journey but the ride has been well worth it.

It seemed like they would never get back to their winning ways after some rough seasons but they acquired an incredible pool of talent during that time. It was only a matter of time before this team found themselves in the form of the juggernaut that is the 2023 Atlanta Braves.

From 2018-2023, the Braves have taken the NL East crown. As soon as Brian Snitker took over for Fredi Gonzalez in 2016, this team changed for the better. They played with a lot of purpose and you can tell they had a great clubhouse culture growing. Credit also belongs to AA as he found a way to build talent and make the right moves so that Snit had a good foundation to build on.

The fact that the Braves were at the top of the division after just a year and a half with Snit at the helm showed exactly what was brewing in Atlanta. It felt so similar to what Bobby Cox helped build in the 90s with this organization. Players who loved where they played and a manager who supported them 100%.

It goes without saying, but this 2023 team may be better than any Braves team we've ever seen. They are shattering records left and right and are assumed to be favorites to win the World Series. Buckle up as we head down memory lane and revisit some of the best moments from their dominant 6-year reign as NL East Champions.

2018: The Birth of a Dynasty

Atlanta Braves v Tampa Bay Rays
Atlanta Braves v Tampa Bay Rays / Julio Aguilar/GettyImages

2018 was the first year that the Braves would show the rest of the league that they were on the cusp of becoming one of the best in baseball again. This team had a lot of spirit and personalities throughout the clubhouse.

There are so many memories that stick out when thinking back on this year. Ronald Acuna Jr. hit his first home run, the Braves won the NL East for the first time in 5 years, Michael Soroka made his MLB debut, Nick Markakis earned an All-Star selection and so much more.

The Braves clinched their division title against the Phillies that season and get ready for this, Mike Foltynewicz took a no-hitter into the 6th inning of that game. Ronald Acuna Jr. fittingly caught the final out of that game. There was also a lot of drama with the Miami Marlins that year.

Speaking of the Marlins, they are a part of a memory that sticks out most from 2018. The Braves were down 9-4 in the bottom of the ninth and no one could prepare fans for what was about to ensue.

The Marlins sent out Brad Ziegler to close things out and he struck out Dansby Swanson for the first out. He then walked Ryan Flaherty who had checked into the game as a pinch hitter. Flaherty advanced to third on a single by Ozzie Albies and would score on a sacrifice fly by a young Ronald Acuna Jr.

Freddie Freeman legged out an infield single, Albies scored on a bad throw to first, and Markakis singled to score Freeman. Tyron Guerrero checked in to get the last out but he walked Tyler Flowers and allowed an RBI single to Kurt Suzuki.

Both catchers advanced bases on a wild pitch and Johan Camargo walked which brought Dansby Swanson to the plate with the bases loaded. He battled in a 7-pitch at-bat and that 7th pitch ended up being the nail in the coffin... for Miami. Swanson was all over an inside fastball that he hit fair down the third base line to walk things off with a 10-9 final.

This amazing comeback occurred on the 8-year anniversary of Brooks Conrad helping the Braves achieve the same thing against the Cincinnati Reds with his grand slam walk-off at Turner Field.

We cannot move on without mentioning one of the best moments from the 2018 NLDS. Ronald Acuna Jr. owns that moment on his grand slam in the opening game of the NLDS against the Dodgers.

That moment never fails to bring out the goosebumps. The atmosphere inside the ballpark was absolutely palpable.

2019: Dancing in the Rain

Divisional Series - St Louis Cardinals v Atlanta Braves - Game Two
Divisional Series - St Louis Cardinals v Atlanta Braves - Game Two / Todd Kirkland/GettyImages

The 2019 season featured a lot of personality as the Braves brought on Josh Donaldson for a season to bolster their offense. Ronald Acuña Jr. chased history in the second half and found himself in the MVP conversation alongside both Freddie Freeman and Josh Donaldson.

Mike Soroka proved himself to be one the best up-and-coming starting pitchers that season and Brian McCann enjoyed one of the most memorable seasons of his career upon returning to where it all started before retiring at the end of the year. Guess who caught the ball when the Braves clinched in 2019? If you guess Ronald Acuna Jr., you are correct. Two years in a row he caught the final out as the Braves clinched their second straight NL East title.

Donaldson provided exactly what the Braves needed from him and was a perfect transition year for Austin Riley who made his debut in 2019. JD being in Atlanta also provided fans with one of the most iconic dugout celebrations.

Brian McCann hits a walk-off single to complete a comeback win

The Braves trailed the Phillies 7-2 before scoring a pair of runs in the seventh and eighth innings to get the Braves closer to tying the game. Austin Riley kept things going in the bottom of the ninth with a two-out RBI double and Brian McCann ended it when he followed with a walk-off single that split two Philly defenders to send the Braves home with a 9-8 win.

This was one of the most exciting moments of the season and a great moment to add to the reel for a great career for Brian McCann. That was his 8th career walk-off hit and it came in exciting fashion. His post-game interview says everything about how important this moment was for him.

Honorable Mention

Ronald Acuña joins the 30/30 club

When Ronald Acuña Jr. stole second base during the eighth inning of an extra-innings 2-1 win over the Mets at Citi Field, he became the second-youngest player in MLB history to hit 30 homers and steal 30 bases in a season. The only other Atlanta Braves players to achieve a 30/30 season were Hank Aaron, Dale Murphy, and Ron Gant.

Acuña was on pace to break the coveted 40/40 threshold but was only able to get one-half of that done. He missed 40 stolen bases by just 3 of them. He has more than made up for that stolen base total in the current 2023 season as he is approaching 70 stolen bases and has 39 home runs.

Ronald also earned his first All-Star selection in 2019 for his MVP-worthy performance during this season. It showed fans a preview of what was to come next for the superstar outfielder.

2020: The One With the MVP

Philadelphia Phillies v Atlanta Braves
Philadelphia Phillies v Atlanta Braves / Todd Kirkland/GettyImages

2020 will be remembered for many reasons as the world found itself in the midst of a pandemic. MLB found a way to allow the season to continue despite being in a shortened form. However, there is one reason that sticks out most when thinking back on that season for the Atlanta Braves.

Freddie Freeman had proven himself as one of the league's best players since the moment he arrived in Atlanta. There were always flashes showing the potential of an MVP award and he's always around the .300 mark batting-wise while also providing elite defense.

He had a couple of firsts during this season including hitting his first and second career grand slam within days of each other in September. The other first was him winning the NL MVP for his incredible performance.

Freeman led the league in multiple categories including runs (51), 2B (23), extra-base hits (37), and WAR (3.3). He slashed .341/.462/.640 with a 1.102 OPS and OPS+ of 187 as well. He also is the one to catch the final out as the Braves won their third consecutive NL East title.

While the season may have been shortened, there was little doubt that Freddie Freeman was the MVP of the league. He led the Braves all season to big wins and came through in big moments. He performed well in the playoffs with a .279 average with a .904 OPS.

The pain of not making it past the NLCS that postseason was rough as Atlanta looked poised to make a World Series run. However, this season was just a preview of what was to come next for the Braves.

2021: The Boys of October

Atlanta Braves World Series Parade
Atlanta Braves World Series Parade / Megan Varner/GettyImages

The season fans will never forget. 2021 marked the return of a powerhouse as the Atlanta Braves brought home the first World Series title in almost 3 decades.

2021 started off rough for the Braves as they struggled to get over the .500 mark but all of that changed after the trade deadline. The pitching was up and down this season but ended up being one of the biggest strengths of the team in the postseason.

Will Smith, who had struggled some this season, recorded the final out as the Braves clinched their 4th straight NL East title. He was also incredible for the Braves in the playoffs.

However, there was the loss of a major piece to the puzzle in 2021 when Ronald Acuna Jr. went down for the season with a knee injury.

Alex Anthopoulos responded by trading for Joc Pederson to fill the gap of missing Ronald. He showed his team that he wasn't giving up on the season and would do what he needed to do to help the team win.

Well... he did even more by adding 3 more outfielders at the trade deadline that would become very important pieces.

Those 3 outfielders? Adam Duvall, Jorge Soler, and Eddie Rosario.

Every single player brought something special in the postseason and had moments that were unforgettable. Eddie Rosario became a hero in the postseason after missing most of the season with injury. He was acquired while the Braves while being injured and fans were treated to an incredible performance in the playoffs.

Jorge Soler won MVP of the World Series as he led off the series with a homer and hit a massive homer to kick things off in Game 6 which was the moment Atlanta won their first World Series in so many years.

Joc Pederson was a massive boost to the clubhouse as he brought tons of energy and declared the Braves "might be those..." Well, I'll let you finish the phrase. He had some big hits in the playoffs for Atlanta and I couldn't imagine him not being there during this postseason run.

Adam Duvall was a familiar face for Atlanta and it was nice to see him back in the fold. He had some major hits during the postseason as well.

Had Alex Anthopoulos not made these moves, there's a chance the Braves may not have won the World Series. Luckily, fans don't have to imagine what that would be like since the moves were made.

The Braves finally conquered beating their long-time foe the Dodgers and handled the Houston Astros with relative ease in the World Series. There were so many great moments this year but winning the World Series is the highlight.

2022: You Come At the Kings, You Better Not Miss

Atlanta Braves v Los Angeles Dodgers
Atlanta Braves v Los Angeles Dodgers / Ronald Martinez/GettyImages

Fans didn't imagine Freddie Freeman would join their nemesis, the Los Angeles Dodgers, in the offseason. However, that's exactly what happened and the Braves would now begin a new era with Freeman no longer the face of the franchise.

They instead would make a trade for an equally impressive first baseman from Oakland. Matt Olson was fairly unknown to many baseball fans due to playing on the West Coast for the majority of the season. However, he brought Gold Glove defense and a powerful bat to Atlanta.

Olson was a big part of this team as was Spencer Strider who emerged as a force during this season recording over 200 strikeouts. Charlie Morton also recorded over 200 strikeouts this season. Michael Harris II made his MLB debut and proved to be one of the league's best defenders and his offense wasn't too bad either.

Atlanta showed just how long they were going to be a force to be reckoned with during this season. However, winning the NL East wasn't as easy as everyone thought this year. It provided one of the best memories of this season which was when the Braves and Mets faced off late in the season.

The Braves were down 10.5 games at one point to the Mets in the division but something changed and they just found a way to keep winning and take advantage when the Mets would lose. They fought their way back and when the teams met in early October with a chance to take a lead in the division with just days remaining in the season.

Atlanta dominated New York this series and ended up sweeping the Mets. They absolutely stunned the Mets and beat deGrom, Scherzer, and Bassitt to reduce their magic number to win their 5th consecutive NL East title to 1 game.

The Braves ended up winning the division just days later in Miami. Ronald Acuna Jr. caught the final out to seal the deal for Atlanta. He had caught the final out in 3 of the games in which the Braves clinched the division to this point.

All the Mets had to do was win one game of that series and they would have prevented Atlanta from doing so. Both teams ended up finishing the season with the same amount of wins. Unfortunately, the Braves would suffer an early exit from the playoffs at the hands of the Phillies but this season was a lot of fun regardless.

2023: The Record Shattering Season

Atlanta Braves v Philadelphia Phillies - Game One
Atlanta Braves v Philadelphia Phillies - Game One / Rich Schultz/GettyImages

The current iteration of the Atlanta Braves is playing at a historic level. No record is safe with this team and they are breaking them left and right. They've already locked up a bye week during the first week of the playoffs by winning their division for the sixth straight season. Kirby Yates recorded the final out in their clinch of the division.

Ronald Acuna Jr. is doing something never done before with 30 home runs and 60+ stolen bases in a single season. Spencer Strider broke his own record and is on the cusp of having the most strikeouts in a season since John Smoltz. Matt Olson broke the record for most home runs in a single season formerly held by Andruw Jones.

Atlanta's offense also broke the franchise record for most home runs in a season and is doing its best to break the MLB record set by the 2019 Twins. They are on pace to break that record but what matters most is the postseason.

Right now, Ronald Acuna Jr. is approaching a 40/70 season. He is one home run and three stolen bases away from accomplishing this. He will be the only player to ever accomplish this and who knows the next time anyone will come close to this mark.

So far, 2023 has been a lot of fun to watch but choosing just one moment doesn't seem right just yet. There is so much time left to make more memorable moments including in the postseason. Hopefully, Braves fans will be celebrating another World Series title.

This could be the best Braves team in the history of the franchise and it's mind-boggling to think of all the records they have broken. It wouldn't be right to end this season without another world championship.