By Danny Webb, Staff Writer–
The Atlanta Braves season came to a heartbreaking end on Sunday with a 4-3 loss in game seven of the NLCS against the Los Angeles Dodgers.
It was the Braves first trip to the NLCS since 2001, and with a 3-1 series lead, Atlanta had their sights set on their first World Series appearance since 1999. Unfortunately, the star-studded Dodgers, whose slugging-filled lineup was on pace to set a record for most homers in a season, had other ideas.
This MLB season was unlike any other, much like most everything else in 2020. The season was shortened to 60 games and fans were not permitted in any regular season game. The lack of Spring Training, and overall oddity of the season meant that any team able to respond well to adversity had a realistic shot at the title.
The Braves did not just rely on their ability to adapt to find themselves just a win away from the World Series. They were led by 2018 manager of the year, Brain Snitker, 2018 rookie of the year Ronald Acuna Jr, and current MVP frontrunner Freddie Freeman who propelled the team to second place in the national league.
Freeman had a career high batting average of .341, led the league with a 1.102 OPS and 37 extra base hits, and will likely win his second gold glove.
The Braves lost their Cy Young hopeful ace, Mike Soroka to a torn achilles, and had to lean on 26-year-old lefty Max Fried to headline a starting rotation that saw two others miss the entire season due to injuries and covid concerns.
Fried stepped up in a huge way posting a career low ERA of 2.25 and a perfect 7-0 record.
Fried wasn’t the only Braves pitcher to get hot. Through the end of the NLDS, the Braves staff held the best postseason ERA of any team in MLB history since 1907, and are in large part the reason the Braves were able to come so close to seeing their World Series dreams become a reality.
The team’s 35-25 record was easily good enough to win the division for the third straight year, and with most of the main pieces returning, the Braves hope to extend that streak in 2021.
“It’s an emotional time when the season ends, especially like this,” said Freddie Freeman following the game seven loss. “But that group in the clubhouse is the start of something special.”
The Braves will look to prove him right in 2021 and beyond as the team that seems to be entering their prime looks for their first World Championship since 1995.