The Atlanta Braves, despite last night’s loss, continue to run away with the NL East, ahead of teams with bigger payrolls and expectations, namely Philadelphia. Alex Anthopoulos has put it all together. This is the season he should be recognized for the incredible job he’s done building this team.
Alex Anthopoulos built his reputation with the Toronto Blue Jays by building up that team into an annual contender, almost reaching the World Series in 2015. Anthopoulos was rewarded with the Sporting News Executive of the Year in 2015 for his efforts. After this season with the Braves, AA should be rewarded his second Executive of the Year award.
AA was hired as the GM and Executive Vice President after John Coppolella was banned from baseball for life in regards to tampering and signings of international players. In what could have been a really ugly situation that Coppolella left behind, AA turned this team around immediately by making the playoffs and winning the NL East in his very first season. Yes, most of the players were from the Coppy era but after such a successful first season, AA had time to put his mark on the Braves.
Coming into this season, it was thought that the Braves would be big spenders, could be involved in the Bryce Harper and JT Realmuto business. The Braves would pass on signing Harper and trading for Realmuto which meant the Philadelphia Phillies were able to pounce on both players. AA responded by signing Brian McCann and Josh Donaldson. At the time, those moves, especially the Donaldson signing, were not met with the greatest of fanfare.
However, as we all know at this point, Josh Donaldson proved everyone wrong by having an incredible season. Donaldson has a chance to reach 40 home runs and a great chance to win Comeback Player of the Year. McCann, in splitting time with Tyler Flowers, also was a big-time contributor to a lot of the Braves success this season. Both signings proved to be much cheaper than what Harper and Realmuto will be getting paid and vital to the Braves success as a team this season.
AA was not done. During the offseason, Dallas Keuchel remained unsigned after his contract requests were not met. Keuchel would remain unsigned into June until the Braves won his services over teams like the New York Yankees and Philadelphia Phillies. At the time, many scratched their heads wondering if Keuchel was worth the time or money. Keuchel has proved he is still a top of the rotation pitcher who will, likely, be the Braves opening starter for the playoffs.
The offseason signings weren’t the only highlight for AA this season. AA worked his magic by locking up Ozzie Albies for seven-years for 35 million and Ronald Acuna for eight-years 100 million. I’m still not sure how, or why, both players agreed to these contracts but those signings are going to keep the Braves in contention for a very long time. Acuna has a chance for a historic 40-40 season. Albies keeps hitting well from both sides of the plate and should be a Gold Glove winner after the season he’s had at second base. These two signings should be enough to hand AA the Executive of the Year award in April.
Last season, the Atlanta Braves finished the season at 90-72 and champs of the NL East. With ten games remaining this season, the Braves have a record of 93-59 and should have the NL East wrapped up before the weekend. It’s been a great regular season for AA and the Braves. All the buttons he’s pushed have been the right moves so far. Now, it’s time to reward him for the stellar job he’s done with this team.