Atlanta hasn’t won a championship since 1995, and with the Cavs finally ending Cleveland’s drought, Atlanta may be the most disappointing sports city in America. All of the teams have had their chances. The Braves have had a lot of good years winning the division multiple times; just a few years ago they were the best team in baseball. They made the World Series five times in the 90’s and somehow still only came away with one championship. The Falcons have not been to the Super Bowl in the 2000’s, but if Michael Vick hadn’t gotten involved with dog fighting, who knows how many rings they would have won. Just like the Braves, it was only a few years ago that the Falcons were contenders. In fact, they made it to the NFC Championship and looked on their way to the super bowl, up 17-0 on the 49ers. In typical Atlanta fashion, the city saw its best championship chance in over a decade disappear. The Hawks haven’t been quite as close as the other teams in recent years but have still seen success. Just two seasons ago, they won 60 games and made their first ever Eastern Conference Finals, where the Cavs embarrassingly swept them. All three of Atlanta’s major teams have had legitimate chances to bring home a championship in the past decade but have been unable to do so, a frustrating theme with this city’s teams. But even with this, there is hope. The Hawks have one of the best coaches in the NBA and finally landed a big name free agent, but they don’t have the talent to keep up with the star powered teams like Golden State and Cleveland. The Falcons have solid star power and a promising coach, but a lousy defense and inconsistent offense always seem to hold them back. Atlanta United is still an unknown at this point, but they have a really nice stadium. The Braves are the most promising and most likely to bring home a championship,
2Why the Braves will win a championship:
The management has been criticized for trading away Evan Gattis, Jason Heyward, Craig Kimbrel, Shelby Miller, Justin Upton, Andrelton Simmons, and others. However, every single one of these trades has so lopsidedly favored the Braves it is almost comical. The farm system, which was one of the worst just a few years ago, is now one of the best. All three of the teams made their championship series. Ozzie Albies of the Mississippi Braves won the Southern league batting title and the Gwinnett Braves pitching rotation has a sub 2.00 ERA in the AAA playoffs. Also, look at Dansby Swanson! He has already shown great ability after one month in the majors. He has hit an inside the park HR, made some great plays in the field, and is batting right around .300; this guy is only 22! Another trade that worked out great was getting Matt Kemp from the Padres in exchange for Hector Olivera. Olivera was suspended for most of the season for assault, and when he has played, it was uninspiring at best. Kemp, on the other hand, is a proven star and even though he’s had a rough go recently, that’s usually what happens when you play for the Padres (just look at Craig Kimbrel). On the Braves, Kemp has been great. He surpassed 30 HR’s and seems to enjoy playing here much more then San Diego. He’s not the only one with 30+ home runs. Freddie Freeman has hit the thirty HR mark for the first time in his career, as the 27-year old continues to show why he is the only player the Braves wanted to keep from their great lineup a few years ago. Another star on the Braves was also acquired via trade, 25-year-old Ender Inciarte. Since the all-star break he leads the entire MLB in hits; he is fast, he is a Gold Glover, and he made arguably the catch of the year (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wi0lI3cV0YQ)
The pitching has no doubt been the biggest question mark this season, but there is a great amount of young pitching that will soon make up one of the most feared rotations in the league. Julio Tehran, the Braves ace, is still only 25 years old. Matt Wisler, Tyrell Jenkins, Mike Foltynewicz, and John Gant are all in their early twenties and while they have all had really terrible starts, as young pitchers do, they have also all showed promising signs of great things to come. The bullpen has been really brutal to watch and they have singlehandedly lost a lot of games. But like the starting rotation, they are almost all young and very inexperienced, so there is a bright future there as well.
It is true; at the moment the Braves are the laughing stock of the league. They are currently in race with the Twins for the worst record in baseball. The team is hard to watch and bad in so many ways. But this is the path that every team, besides the Yankees, has to go through to get back to the top. The difference is that some teams take decades to get their rebuilding strategy right, but it seems that the Braves have done it almost perfectly in just a few.
1Why the Braves won’t win a championship:
Right now, much of the Braves talent is just potential, and that doesn’t always translate to major league success. All of those young talents that have been mentioned above, and all of those that aren’t mentioned, have no guarantee of becoming good major leaguers. Maybe the young pitching staff doesn’t improve like people hope and they continue to have erratic outing throughout their careers. The older pieces that have helped end the Braves season on such a high note are going to need big contracts to re-sign. Nick Markakis, Jim Johnson, and Matt Kemp are all good players that have played very well down the stretch, but they are also all in their thirties. Paying them too much for past achievements that they will never surpass again can be detrimental to a team’s success.
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