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Atlanta Braves: Brian Snitker is the right man for the manager’s job

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The Atlanta Braves managerial search has officially come to a close. Over this past week, it was rumored that it was down to a three-man race between Brian Snitker, Ron Washington, and Bud Black. Snitker managed the team for a good portion of 2016 following the firing of Fredi Gonzalez. Ron Washington is currently the third base coach for the Oakland A’s, and served as the manager from 2007 through 2014, bringing the team to the World Series in 2010 and 2011. Bud Black is currently in the Los Angeles Angels organization, and served as the San Diego Padres lead man from 2007 through 2015, and was the National League Manager of the Year in 2010.

The team has made their decision, and as a result, it will be Snitker who is going to be their man. Mark Bowman is reported it things were close on mlb.com yesterday, and you can read Bowman’s piece here. This is certainly a wise move by the team. Yes, Washington and Black have the resumes, but Snitker knows this team. Snitker knows these players, and he certainly has their support. Ron Washington was still brought in to serve as the teams third base coach.

The team realized, why bring in a new face when you have one the current players already know? And it was clear at the end of the season; this team was behind him. The Braves played better than most would expect behind Snitker, and it is certainly worth seeing what he can do with a full season. No he is not going to make them a World Series contender next season, but 2017 is set to be an exciting year in Atlanta.

The team will be debuting a new stadium next season. They have some names on the roster who can become household names, and they are set to be involved in the free agent market. As the team ushers in a new era, having a man who is not defined by any prior roles is a smart move. Snitker is still a fresh face regarding being a Major League manager, and he saw the team play some of their best balls in 2016.

Now on the whole, the Braves finished 2016 with a 68-93 record. Former manager Fredi Gonzalez got the team off to a 9-28 start before being let go. Then Snitker took over, and the team went 59-65. Now sure he finished under .500, but given what he inherited to start with, that is not totally on him. That is why we need to take an even closer look.

Since Snitker took over in the middle of May, we will start our look at Snitker’s first full month, June. June saw the Braves go 12-16, followed by a 10-16 July. August saw the team go 13-15 before things started to trend towards the positive truly. The club went 16-10 in the month of September, plus 2-0 in October baseball. So after acquiring Matt Kemp at the trade deadline, and having several months to get to know his players, Snitker got this team above .500 for a month.

August and September saw the team score its most runs in any given month by a long shot. They scored 140 runs in August, followed by 143 in September. Their next highest scoring month was 103 in June. The team also outscored opponents in September, as they gave up 123 runs. As a result, September was a winning month for Atlanta, as they won 16 games and lost 10.

With improvements each and every month, the Atlanta Braves finished with a record above .500 in the second half. Over the course of the second half, the Braves won 37 games while losing 35. Considering how poor the team was too open the year, no one would have imagined they could win more than they lost in either half of the season.

One more interesting tidbit comes to the team’s longest winning and losing streaks. The team ran off a seven-game winning streak from September 17 through September 23rd under Snitker. Five of those seven games came on the road, and five of those wins came against playoff teams. The winning streak began with two wins over the NL East champs, the Washington Nationals. The Braves then went into Citi Field and swept the New York Mets over the course of three games. The final two wins came in Miami, against a Marlins team that was in the running for the Wild Card until late in the season. The teams biggest losing streak on the season came in the form of a nine-game run. Those nine games came under the eye of Gonzalez from April 4 to April 14.

The team clearly upped their game the longer they had Snitker on the bench. The team even served as the spoiler for the Detroit Tigers. The Tigers were in contention for the American League Wild Card when they went into Atlanta for the final three games of the season. The Braves stepped up, with nothing on the line, and won two of three to take the series, and prevent the Tigers from making the playoffs.

Snitker may not have as much Major League managing experience as Black and Washington, but he still has plenty of time as a manager. Before coming to the big leagues as a coach, Snitker has managed a handful of minor league clubs in the organization, including the Gwinnett Braves and Durham Bulls, and was the Carolina League Manager of the Year several times. He has spent plenty of time in the organization, first as a player back in 1977. He serves several roles once he became a coach, and simply put, knows the ins and outs of the organization.

The team has a nice young foundation with its bats. Freddie Freeman, Dansby Swanson, Matt Kemp and Ender Inciarte make for a nice base to build around. The pitching rotation has some nice pieces as well, in Matt Wisler, Julio Teheran, and Aaron Blair, but that is clearly where the team needs to build upon. Given Snitker is a former catcher, he should prove helpful when it comes to young arms.

So at the end of the day, Brian Snitker is the right man for the job for the Atlanta Braves. It should be official in the coming days, and Braves fans should be happy with this decision as they get ready to enter 2017 and their new ballpark.

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Robert D. Cobb
Founder, Publisher and CEO of INSCMagazine. Works have appeared and featured in places such as Forbes, Huffington Post, ESPN and NBC Sports to name a few. Follow me on Twitter at @RobCobb_INSC, email me at robert.cobb@theinscribermag.com