By KEVIN MCALPIN
680 THE FAN, ATLANTA – With the 2020 regular season now in the rear view mirror, the Braves will shift their attention to doing something they haven’t done in nearly two decades, winning a postseason series. But before we focus on their upcoming opponent, I thought it would be fun to look back on a remarkable season for a number of players during the 60 game sprint.
Freddie Freeman: We’ve seen some mighty fine seasons from Atlanta’s All-Star first baseman, but this year has been the most impressive to date. Appearing in all 60 games this season, Freddie led the League in doubles (23) and runs (51), while his .341 average was second-best and his RBI total (53) was the runner up to teammate Marcell Ozuna (56). As was pointed out by @StatsByStats on Twitter last night, prior to this season, the only player to finish in the top four in hits, doubles, RBI and runs scored was Lou Gehrig for that powerful 1927 Yankees lineup. Freeman is the MVP and if he falls short, I’d love to hear anyone’s explanation for why he shouldn’t be.
Marcell Ozuna: All offseason, the most common question I got from fans was “how will they replace the production they are losing from Josh Donaldson?” Well, entering Game 60, Ozuna was very much alive for a Triple Crown, something that hasn’t happened in the NL since Joe Medwick with the 1937 St Louis Cardinals. While his quest of history fell just short, Ozuna led the NL with 18 homers and 56 RBI, becoming the first Brave to lead the League in RBI since Andruw Jones in 2003. Now, the bigger question becomes “how much will it cost to keep him in Atlanta long term?” I believe this has to be the top priority going into the offseason, which hopefully won’t happen for a few more weeks.
Travis d’Arnaud: When the Braves inked the veteran backstop to a two year deal this winter, Alex Anthopoulos felt like his power to all fields would be a big lift to the Atlanta lineup. Nobody could’ve imagined he would compete for Silver Slugger award in a division with JT Realmuto, but that’s exactly what d’Arnaud has done in 2020.
The Bullpen: While we knew the Atlanta pen would be a strength this season, you can make the argument that it even exceeded pre season predictions. Guys like AJ Minter and Tyler Matzek were nice surprises, while Shane Greene bounced back after a shaky finish to the 2019 season. The relief corps was so effective this year, that the Braves were a perfect 27-0 when handing them a lead after six.
The offense: Last but not least, the offense as a whole surpassed a franchise modern day record, plating 348 runs though 60 games, the most from the organization since the 1894 Boston Beaneaters. Top to bottom, the offense as a whole is in a much better place heading into the Postseason than it was a year ago. They’re healthy and clicking at the right time, averaging close to six runs per contest. Can it sustain a deep run in October? We’ll find out in a mere 48 hours!
Kevin McAlpin has covered the Braves since 2012 for @680TheFan and the @BravesRadioNet