Guide your mind away from the results of the 2016 season to this point, and consider the people of the organization.
Bill Acree was the longtime Braves director of travel, joining the organization in 1966. His son, Ben Acree, and Chris Van Zant, handle the duties of that job now and have both been with the organization for quite some time. If you listen to a Braves broadcast on TV or the radio, you will hear these names from time to time. You will also hear the name of Walter Banks, who has been an usher with the the Braves since the move to Atlanta in 1966.
The behind-the-scenes individuals will never get the due they're worth, but when players are eager to return to a franchise they have been employed by previously, it is a testament to how much of a joy those guys are to work with.
Jim Johnson and Kelly Johnson had opportunities to go elsewhere in the offseason, after being traded in the middle of the 2015 season. They both chose to give Atlanta another shot.
"The people that are running the organization were there my first time through, so it's like family," Kelly Johnson said. "It was just a nice feeling to come back last year and see all of those faces and just be very comfortable. Honestly, it kind of pushes me a little bit. There's some motivation to be at home and also to kind of show off and do well for guys who were there with me at the beginning."
Jeff Francoeur returned to the place where he failed to meet expectations as a young player, fading drastically after in the last few years of his time in Atlanta.
"For me, I would have loved to have played here a lot longer," he said, after signing his minor league deal in February. He showed enough to make the team out of Spring Training.
Eric O'Flaherty did not really have a choice but to come back when the Braves traded for him towards the end of spring, but he was interested in re-upping with the team in the offseason, there just wasn't a fit at the time.
"This is basically my baseball home," O'Flaherty said via MLB.com. "I always keep track of what's going on here. So it was nice to get that phone call."
When Michael Bourn was traded to the Braves for the second time in his career in 2015, he said he was excited to be going back. The list goes on and on.
Eddie Perez, Brian Jordan, and Peter Moylan are just a portion of the players that have willingly come back to Atlanta. There obviously were some guys that gave it one last hurrah and were unsuccessful (i.e. Tom Glavine and Javy Lopez).
The counter to this is that the Braves are scooping up guys on the back end of their careers with little to no other options. While that may be true with some, the prevailing mindset is that the Braves organization is one that treats its people the right way and makes a return desiring and appealing to players.