The Atlanta Braves found success by balancing old school and new school
By Eric Cole
A lot is made of how much the game of baseball has changed over the last 30 years or so. Between the rules of the game literally changing in front of our eyes to the increasingly more advanced data and analysis guiding both game management and player development, there is no question that times have changed. However, the Atlanta Braves have found success over the last several years not by going to an extreme there, but instead by finding balance between the old guard and new schools of thinking.
It starts at the top with Alex Anthopoulos
When Alex Anthopoulos joined the Braves after the 2017 season, he inherited an organization in disarray after former general manager John Coppolella was banned from baseball. Make no mistake, there was a ton of talent that AA was inheriting and would reap the benefits of, but there was also a lot of conflict and competing interests between long-time, old school members of the organization and holdovers from Coppy's hires that embraced advanced metrics and newer ways of thinking.
On the surface, AA seems to be a poster child for the new wave. After a very successful tenure as Toronto's general manager that came to a sudden end in 2015, Anthopoulos would join the Dodgers' front office as vice president of baseball operations. Both AA and Dodgers were known to embrace data-driven decision-making and that was likely a selling point for the Braves when they recruited Anthopoulos.
Tt is easy to forget that Anthopoulos both has a background in and understands the value of traditionalism. He got his start as a scouting intern in the Expos' front office before become their assistant scouting coordinator and then joined Toronto as their scouting coordinator. Sure, he has hired a lot of front office help that are data-driven and he has been largely steadfast in getting proper value when it comes to dishing out contracts. However, he has also placed a high premium on trusting his high-performing scouts, the value of players and coaches' contributions to the the clubhouse that don't get captured in the numbers, and understanding the human element of running a team.