In almost identical scenarios the 2018 Atlanta Braves have mirrored the 2017 New York Yankees. Both teams were young clubs that were expected to play competitive baseball but not compete for the playoffs. Yet in both cases, the teams would advance to the playoffs. Let’s examine the similarities a bit further.
Rookie of the Year Runaway: Aaron Judge- Ronald Acuña Jr
It has been an incredible couple of seasons to be a baseball fan, as both the Yankees Aaron Judge and the Braves Ronald Acuña Jr have taken the baseball world by storm. In both cases, these rookies have set out and played to a level not often seen from rookie players. Acuña is in some rare heir as a young player and can only improve. As was Judge during his 2017 Rookie of the Year winning campaign. While he has some competition Acuña looks poised to win the 2018 NL Rookie of the Year.
Veteran Leader Breakout: Brett Gardner- Nick Markakis
Brett Gardner’s 2017 season and Nick Markakis’ 2018 are similar in many ways. But the main reason is that for both men those seasons represented something of a breakout. While both players have had successful Major League careers, those seasons, in particular, showed off a different level of success. Not to mention the fact that both were veteran players on very young ballclubs in which they played a mentorship role for the team.
Better Late Than Never: Masahiro Tanaka- Julio Teheran
Both Tanaka and Teheran started their years in a rough way. And both would end up with his ERA’s by seasons end. Yet as Tanaka would display during the 2017 AL Playoffs that meant nothing. And Teheran seems poised to do the same. Over his last seven starts, Teheran has an ERA of a little over 3.00 and has 40 strikeouts in 43 innings. Julio Teheran has been a sleeper pick of mine for several years and he seems ready to elevate his stock for the Braves during their postseason run.
Catching At The Core: Gary Sanchez- Kurt Suzuki/Tyler Flowers
While some may choose to see the negative of the catching ability of Gary Sanchez with his struggles blocking the ball, Gary is a very good Major League catcher. And what the Braves have done during the 2018 season is deploy the tandem of Suzuki and Flowers to perfection. By splitting the catching duties neither man gets overworked and they both play a vital role in the success of the Braves. Offensively Sanchez’s 2017 season was better than the combined efforts of the 2018 Braves backstop combo but 20 home runs and 78 rbi’s is a very solid contribution offensively. All while maintaining solid defense behind the plate.
Beginning The Breakout: Aaron Hicks- Johan Camargo
Aaron Hicks and Johan Camargo are two young players with a lot of potential who started to show signs of advancing during their respective seasons. Camargo and Hicks during the 2018 and 2017 seasons (respectively) would begin displaying the skill set that was always believed to be there. And for Aaron Hicks, the next level of maturity as a player has thus far been achieved during his 2018 campaign. So with a skillset similar to that of Aaron Hicks, Johan Camargo may see a transformation somewhat akin to that of Aaron Hicks.
Bolstering the Bullpen: David Robertson- Brad Brach
When the Yankees made the move that brought David Robertson back into the fold, it was a smart baseball move. It was a move that would pay big dividends for the Yankees. Likewise, the move to bring in Brad Brach from the Baltimore Orioles was equally praised and successful for Atlanta. Brach provides a veteran presence and leadership in a young Atlanta Braves Bullpen. The same kind of assets that David Robertson provided the 2017 New York Yankees bullpen.
Solidifying the Starting Staff: Sonny Gray- Anibal Sanchez
Although Sonny Gray has been the ace the Yankees hoped for during his 2017 run, Gray was effective for the Bronx Bombers. And like 2017 Sonny Gray, Anibal Sanchez has been very effective for the Atlanta Braves. over his last seven games, despite the win-loss record Sanchez has pitched to the tune of a 2.72 ERA and struck out 38 in 39 innings of work. Sanchez has proven to be a reliable veteran starter and can help the Braves advance in their postseason aspirations.
Middle Infield Masher: Didi Gregorius- Ozzie Albies
Albies and Gregorius two middle infield studs that broke out in the power department during their campaigns. And both Gregorius and Albies are excellent defenders as well. These two players are keys to both the Yankees and Braves lineups and defensive prowess. And it shows in the similarities in their seasons. Albies in 2018 has 23 home runs and 70 RBIs. While 2017 Didi Gregorius had 25 HRs and 87 RBIs. We still have a week of baseball left to go and Albies can catch the ribbie totals, but regardless they had similar seasons.
Aces Wild: Luis Severino- Mike Foltynewicz
Luis Severino and Mike Foltynewicz are two young pitchers with good stuff and commanding presence. And like Severino in 2017, Foltynewicz this season has taken strides forward. This season Folty has pitched nearly 200 innings and will probably finish with at least 185 innings. And Folty has an ERA of 2.88 with 193 strikeouts. While it is not set, Foltynewicz is likely to get the ball in the NL Wildcard game for the Braves as did Luis Severino for the 2017 Yankees. Braves fans will hope for better success than what Sevvy had during his Wildcard outing last season. But both pitchers will be expected to carry the mantle of Ace for their teams moving forward.
2017 Yankees- 2018 Braves
There is still about a week of baseball left until the season is over. And we will have to wait until the playoffs begin to see where the Braves end up. But the similarities are evident. A young team ahead of schedule putting on a show that no one expected.