ATL News / Sports

Coming off a World Series, Braves young core has championship window wide open

After a 26-year drought, the Atlanta Braves are World Series Champions. In what had to be the most improbable postseason run, the club won just 88 games during the regular season, lost its best player to injury in July, and even squandered an early Game 5 lead in the World Series to finally lift the Commissioner’s Trophy above their heads.

In the time between the Braves’ 1995 and 2021 championships, Atlanta has seen the Hawks get no further than the Eastern Conference Finals, lost the Thrashers to Winnipeg, and suffered through the Falcons blowing a 28-3 lead in the Super Bowl. The city deserved a championship, and in a season dedicated to the greatest baseball player of all time, Braves Country and Hammerin’ Hank haven’t stopped celebrating, whether that be on earth or in the skies. There were too many memorable moments even to list, but here are some of my favorites.

In Game 4 of the NLDS, Freddie Freeman delivered a solo home run in the eighth inning off Josh Hader to advance to the Leauge Championship Series. In Games 1 and 2 of the NLCS, the Braves walked off against the Dodgers, courtesy of Austin Riley and Eddie Rosario. However, in even more memorable fashion, Tyler Matzek delivered perhaps the moment of the postseason when he came on with runners on second and third and no outs and was able to strike out the side.

Finally, there were a plethora of moments in the World Series, but Game 4 was certainly a turning point and a gut-punch to the Astros. Atlanta’s lineup was held mostly in check until Dansby Swanson hit a home run in the bottom of the seventh, and Jorge Soler followed it up with a sharp hit ball to left that just cleared the fence — the back-to-back blasts turned a 2-1 deficit into a 3-2 victory.

There were a million other memories created from last year, but fans better have saved room for more because this club is loaded with young talent. Deep playoff runs will become an annual occurrence for the Braves, and it could go on throughout this entire decade.

The recently acquired Matt Olson is just 28-years-old and is under contract until 2031. 24-year-old Ronald Acuna Jr. is one of the most exciting players in the game and won’t hit free agency until 2029. Ozzie Albies is just 25 and under contract until 2028. The team’s ace, Max Fried, is the same age as Olson and won’t require a contract extension until 2025. Austin Riley, the next great Braves’ third basemen, is only 25 and won’t need a new deal until 2026. Kyle Wright and AJ Minter are 26 and 28 years old, respectively, and are under team control until 2027 and 2025. Ian Anderson and William Contreras are both 24 and aren’t set to hit free agency until 2027 and 2028, respectively.

And that’s not even considering Spencer Strider (23 years old, FA 2028) and Michael Harris (21 years old). The Braves could also extend 28-year-old Dansby Swanson and keep him in Atlanta for his prime.

The team has never been in a better place than it is right now. They’ve won four straight division titles and a World Series. Truist Park has become the best environment to watch a baseball game, and they are only just getting started.

Photo: Rich von Biberstein/Icon Sportswire

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