This time last year, we were looking back on an Atlanta Braves team that had navigated a 60-game sprint of a regular season and came within one game of reaching the World Series. There was plenty of expectations for the 2021 Atlanta Braves and they struggled for most of the season. They overcame injuries to Mike Soroka and Ronald Acuña Jr. but got hot at the right time and rode the wave through the postseason to capture their first World Series Championship since 1995. It was a heck of a ride and in many ways, felt like multiple seasons wrapped up in one.
Below is our annual list of our most viewed stories of 2021. It is an interesting list overall with a few surprises. Thank you to everyone who took the time to visit Talking Chop in 2021 and we hope that you will be sticking with us for many more years to come.
When Spring Training began last February, we figured a contract extension for Freddie Freeman would be little more than a formality. Then it came and went with no deal and then Opening Day passed. Next up was the All-Star break and yeah you get the picture. As I type this, Freeman is a free agent and free to sign with any team as soon as the lockout ends. That is a statement that I never anticipated typing. This article was a good summary of the Freeman situation as well as what other teams might be interested in his services.
The Braves dealt with their fair share of injuries throughout 2021 and this article from last April summed up a lot of them. Ozzie Albies was hit in the calf in the series opener against the Cubs at Wrigley and missed the remainder of the series. Brian Snitker also gave an update on Max Fried, who was on the injured list with a hamstring strain, and Chris Martin who was dealing with a shoulder injury. If that wasn’t enough, Ronald Acuña Jr. left Sunday’s game against the Cubs with what was termed as a lower abdominal injury.
While speaking in his end of the season media session, Braves president Alex Anthopoulos confirmed that the team would issue a qualifying offer to free agent Freddie Freeman. That was a mere formality but the statement helped cement the fact that Freeman was actually going to hit the open market. Anthopoulos also took this as another opportunity that the goal was to keep Freeman in a Braves uniform for a long time.
“He’ll get a qualifying offer. That’s just a matter of process on our standpoint,” Anthopoulos said. “He’s a free agent. By rule, obviously, I can’t say a whole lot other than what I’ve said in the past. We love him. He’s great. We want him to stay. He wants to stay. How the process plays out and goes from there. I can’t really get into any specifics, but very similar to what I said in the past that our goal is to sign him and to keep him a Brave.”
Not much to say about this one other than I was surprised by how light Marcell Ozuna’s suspension was. The ball is back in the Braves’ court as to how they want to proceed with Ozuna moving forward.
After being non-tendered by the Braves last offseason, outfielder Adam Duvall signed a one-year deal with the Miami Marlins that included a mutual option for the 2022 season. The Braves acquired Duvall in a deadline deal in exchange for catcher Alex Jackson. Duvall helped fuel the Braves’ turnaround and subsequent run to a World Series Championship.
As expected, he declined the mutual option and accepted the $3 million buyout. Duvall was still arbitration eligible and Atlanta did tender him a contract this time around.
This was a bit of a surprise for me but our regular season schedule article came in at No. 5. I’m glad some people found it as a useful resource and I plan to do more with this for the upcoming season.
USA Today’s Bob Nightengale reported that Freeman rejected a five-year, $135 million offer from Atlanta and was reportedly seeking a six-year deal worth around $200 million. The Braves play things close enough to the vest that it is worth being skeptical of reports such as these.
Here is something a little more fun. The Braves announced plans for their Championship Parade on November 3 which would take place in two phases. The route began at the site of old Fulton County Stadium and ended at the Battery at Truist Park.
The feud between Ronald Acuña Jr., the Braves and Miami Marlins added another chapter in July when Pablo Lopez Jr. drilled Acuna with the first pitch of the game. Lopez was ejected much to the chagrin of manager Don Mattingly who was also ejected. Following the game, Mattingly voiced his displeasure and accused Mike Soroka of throwing at and breaking Peter O’Brien’s ribs during the 2019 season. Brian Snitker also weighed in and voiced his displeasure with the Marlins continuing to throw baseballs at Acuña.
Over the last two seasons, the Braves have made a ton of roster moves and we have tracked them all in this roster article. It is currently updated through the start of the lockout. Like the schedule article, I am glad to see that some people are finding it useful.