Amazing comeback in the World Series

After decades of mistakes, the Atlanta Braves finally deliver a World Series to the city of Atlanta. Atlanta fans have watched their teams choke in big moments, whether it be losing the 2020 NLCS after leading 3-1 to the Los Angeles Dodgers, or the infamous 34-28 overtime loss in Super Bowl 51 after leading 28-3 in the third quarter. Atlanta fans should rejoice their team finally closing a championship out, considering how much they had to overcome this year.

Starting on April 1, the Braves came into 2021 with an 81.5 win projection, and many didn’t consider the current roster strong enough to make the playoffs, let alone to make a playoff run. On May 1, those same Braves sat in last place of the weakest division in baseball, the NL East, at 12-15 with a negative run differential.

The season just got bleaker and bleaker. On May 29, star left-fielder Marcell Ozuna faced assault charges which abruptly ended his season. On June 1, the Braves still sat two games under .500 with a negative run differential, and fans were looking forward to next year. On June 26, ace starting pitcher Mike Soroka tore his achilles, requiring season-ending surgery.

Battered and bruised, the Braves then faced what might have been the worst day in Atlanta sports history. The Braves’ right fielder, MVP frontrunner, and hitting phenom Ronald Acuna Jr. tore his ACL, cutting his season short. The Braves remained under .500, were severely banged up, and had just lost what some might say the best player in the MLB. On July 13, baseball experts had them at a 0.3% chance of winning the World Series.

But General Manager Alex Anthopoulos had other plans. He went on a shopping spree at the trade deadline, acquiring an entire new-look outfield. Trading for former Chicago Cub Joc Pederson on July 15, Anthopoulos followed that up with acquisitions consisting of bench bat Jorge Soler who would hit the game-winning home run in Game 6, and former Miami Marlin Adam Duvall and Cleveland Indian Eddie Rosario.

The Braves captured dozens of wins in August and September, and catapulted themselves into first place of the weak NL East, sneaking in as an 88-win team in the NL postseason race. 

In the National League Divisional Series, the Braves faced off against NL Central winners: the Milwaukee Brewers. Severe underdogs, the Braves were led by brilliant starting pitching, shutting out the Brewers in Games 2 and 3 on the way to a 5-4 win in Game 4 to clinch the best-of-5 series. The Braves punched their ticket back to the NLCS for the second year in a row- facing off against a familiar opponent, the Los Angeles Dodgers.

The Dodgers were the defending champions, and came in off a ridiculous 106 win season, with the second-best record in the MLB. After beating the top-ranked San Francisco Giants in the NLDS, the Dodgers were rejuvenated and carrying a lot of momentum. The Braves were underdogs once again. Brilliant Braves pitching held the top-flight Dodgers offense to 2 or fewer runs in Games 1, 4, 5, and 6, and the outfielders raked. Pederson, Rosario, and Duvall hit home run after home run, including a 4 hit game from Rosario in Game 4 leading to a 9-2 Atlanta victory. Entering Game 5, the Braves were faced with a similar situation as last year: leading 3-1 against the Dodgers in the Conference Series. After falling 11-2 to Los Angeles in Game 5, the Braves secured the series in emphatic fashion in Game 6, a confident 4-2 victory.

The Braves, a team predicted to miss the playoffs after losing Acuna Jr., had punched their ticket to the World Series. Their matchup: the top-ranked offense in the MLB, the Houston Astros. After being outed by MLB insiders for their cheating scandal in 2017, the Astros were on the verge of building a dynasty, going to their third world series in five years. Led by AL batting champion Yuli Gurriel, along with the likes of shortstop Carlos Correa, third baseman Alex Bregman, and second baseman Jose Altuve, the Astros looked to end the Braves’ storybook ride.

The series started just like the Braves wanted. They got out to an early start, led by more dominant starting pitching. Holding the top offense in the league to two or fewer runs in Games 1, 2, and 4, the Braves held another 3-1 stranglehold, this time in the World Series. After falling in Game 5, the Braves came determined to end the series in six games. In the top of the third inning with two runners on, bench bat and midseason acquisition Jorge Soler came to the plate. Soler, on a full count, sent the ball 446-feet into left field, tying a Braves postseason record for the longest home run ever recorded. 3-0 Braves. Star first baseman, and former NL MVP, Freddie Freeman would send one over the wall for another two-run homer in the fifth, and a solo shot in the seventh from shortstop Dansby Swanson would cap off the scoring craze. Young stud Max Fried would pitch six scoreless innings in a historic game on the mound. The Braves would win 7-0.

Starting pitchers pitched late into almost every postseason outing. Braves outfielder acquisitions routed opposing pitchers, and Alex Anthopoulos should be showered with praise. Overall, this Braves championship may have been one of the most unlikely of the last twenty years. Never in recent history has a team lost so much from injury, but still been able to make a deep playoff run like the 2021 Braves. A blend of incredible trade deadline work, extraordinary pitching, and great hitting sits the Atlanta Braves as the 2021 World Series Champions.