Five division titles in a row. The rebuild was long, but it seems so far in the rearview mirror because, well, it is. The Braves have been at the top of the division for a half decade. I remember having to watch the has beenâ€™s, the journeymen, the failed prospects all throughout the rebuild. While it was still a massive 18-win improvement over the 2017 team, the 2018 team was able to win the division with 90 wins, and that was good enough to start our run.
This year, it was a dog fight until the final week. This team won 100 games for the first time since 2003. They started the year 23-27, so I know I was worried there was the potential for a post-championship hangover effect for this team. But on June 1st, 10.5 games, they started winning at a historic pace, and they would not stop. They won 14 straight to cut the lead by more than half. The season was alive again. From that June 1st date, the Braves have gone 78-23, a .700 winning percentage. A .700 winning percentage. For almost 4 months. Iâ€™ll leave it to the historians to tell us if the Braves have ever done that before, but I donâ€™t remember it.
What feels great about where Atlanta is right now is that they did it differently than last year. The season was saved last year because the division was not very good (we won the division last year with 88 wins), and we heavily reinforced our roster last year with rentals. This year, the Braves showed theyâ€™re going to be good for a very long time. Instead of piecemealing the roster, they were able to infuse the roster with players that will be in the organization for a long time. Spencer Strider, though he had already gotten his cup of coffee last year, started the year in the pen and then got his rightful spot in the rotation. And now he becomes yet another homegrown guy that hopefully will be a fixture in the rotation should he stay healthy. In a lot of years, he would be a great candidate for Rookie of the Year if not for Michael Harris. Harris was called up on May 28th (3 days before the winning streak; not a coincidence), and he has somehow been even better than Strider has been amongst our rookies. Vaughn Grissom gave us another shot in the arm.
This team needed every bit of a deep, detailed, and superior organization to get past the Mets. This was their year. The Mets also won 100 games, the first time since 1988 and only the 4th time in their existence. They led the division for 175 days. Iâ€™m going to leave the trolling to everybody else, especially in regards to that talking head â€œSalâ€ who declared the division over in June or whatever. But it was over. We were 10.5 back, below .500, and it looked bleak. Itâ€™s fun to troll this â€œSalâ€ guy, but I think it devalues what this team has done. It took a .700 winning percentage pace for most of the season to beat a really good Mets team. Thatâ€™s the story here. The Mets didnâ€™t collapse, and Sal wasnâ€™t saying anything that crazy when he said it. But the Braves have built a really good team. Thatâ€™s what I will choose to remember.
One more regular season game. And then we go again. May there be no Jim Leyritz moments keeping us from repeating this time.