Nine days after the 2016 season came to an end, the Braves made it official on Tuesday morning, naming Brian Snitker the full-time manager of the club. Snitker, in his 40th year with the organization, took over after Fredi Gonzalez was relieved of his duties on May 17th after the club got off to one of its worst starts in franchise history. At 9-28, the Braves were on pace to lose over 115 games. Snitker, in his third year as manager with Gwinnett was promoted to interim skipper with no guarantees for the future. But, his team was resilient and responded to the change at the top.
Atlanta went on to improve its win total from 5 in April to 10 in May to 12 in June before taking a brief step back in July (10-16). But, following a 13-15 August, the Braves won 18 of their final 30 games in September and October against a number of teams fighting for playoff spots (Nationals, Mets, Marlins, Tigers). While a 68-93 record overall may not seem all that impressive, consider where they started. Just five wins in April. Five! In the first half, Atlanta was 31-58, but finished two games over .500 (37-35) in the second half of the season. After the way this team got out of the gate, it would have been really easy to pack things in and count the days until October 2nd. But this team did not do that. They came to play 27 outs every single night. At the deadline, the Front Office brought in Matt Kemp to help boost the offense. All that move did was add about two runs of offense per game, giving Freddie Freeman some much needed protection in the lineup.
Brian Snitker deserves a lot of the credit for what the Braves were able to accomplish in after a disastrous start. He earned the right to have the interim tag removed and become the next manager. His players openly petitioned for him to get the gig, constantly saying how much they appreciate his style of leadership. And for Snit, it’s an opportunity that was over 40 years in the making. A well respected man around the baseball community that’s done a little bit of everything for the Braves now has his chance at a full-time managerial role in the Majors. 40 years is a long, long time. But, for Brian Snitker, I’m sure today makes all the hard work, long bus rides and years of thinking this day might never come all that much sweeter.
@KevinMcAlpin covers the Braves for @680_The_Fan and the @BravesRadioNet.