Going into the 2021 season, there are no glaring, high profile changes to the Atlanta Braves’ coaching staff. It was widely expected that Brian Snitker was going to be the manager and coming off a decidedly weird 2020, there wasn’t much of a sense that wholesale changes were required for the team to take the next step. This is a group that has largely done well and while we certainly get annoyed with some of Snitker’s decision-making in-game, he has been a net-positive for this Braves squad to the extent that he appears well-liked if not beloved by his players, and certainly deserved another year.
Below, you will find a quick preview of the Braves’ coaching staff going into the 2021 season.
Manager - Brian Snitker
This is going to be Snitker’s sixth season as the manager of the Atlanta Braves professional baseball club. Currently, his record as a manager sits at 353-317, including the current run of three National League East division titles. Snitker remains a players’ manager whose specialty is maintaining a strong relationship with his players and fostering a good clubhouse atmosphere. However, there have also been signs that he is taking more modern approaches to lineups and in-game decision-making to heart. Snitker is entering the final year of his contract and it wouldn’t be surprising for him to receive an extension during the early part of camp. Teams usually extend managers in his position to avoid a “lame duck” situation where the team places a manager in a position of playing out the season without knowing whether they’ll be around afterwards.
Bench Coach - Walt Weiss
After a stint as the Rockies’ manager, Weiss has been the Braves’ bench coach since 2018. While Weiss’ managerial record wasn’t great, he is widely respected in the Braves organization and the Braves’ continued success could mean that he could start getting some more consideration for open managerial spots assuming he wants to move back into that role eventually. Like the rest of the Braves coaching staff, Weiss’ contract with the Braves runs through the 2021 season.
Hitting Coach - Kevin Seitzer
Seitzer has been the Braves’ hitting coach since 2014 and previously held the same job with the Diamondbacks, Royals, and Blue Jays. The Braves’ offense has been a strength for the most part during Seitzer’s tenure other than the first few years where the roster was largely to blame given that the Braves were rebuilding. Seitzer has been credited with helping a lot of Braves and former Braves cut down on their strikeouts and put the ball in play with more authority. Over Seitzer’s tenure, which includes three bad years and two-and-a-third good years, the Braves have been an average offensive club that has walked at a slightly above average rate while running a bottom three aggregate strikeout rate. Since 2018, the Braves have solidly been a top-10 team across the board offensively, including via Statcast metrics — and are fourth behind the Astros, Dodgers, and Yankees in position player wRC+. When Alex Anthopoulos ascended to the Front Office, it was a testament to what the organization thinks of Seitzer that there was nary a whisper of replacing him during that transition.
Pitching Coach - Rick Kranitz
If a big change was going to be made after last season, installing a new pitching coach to replace Kranitz seemed like the most likely candidate. There has been talk in the past amongst those close to the organization that Kranitz may be better suited for some sort of minor league pitching coordinator position, but he can hardly be blamed for how the rotation imploded with injuries and opt-outs last season and he should be commended for keeping things together as well as he did. That said, if you are looking at a position to watch for a change going forward, this may be where to begin. Since the start of Kranitz’ tenure, the Braves have been middle-of-the-pack pitching-wise — there may be room for improvement, but it’s entirely unclear how much of that has anything to do with Kranitz versus the pitchers on the roster.
Third Base Coach - Ron Washington
Ron Washington came to Atlanta in 2017 after a successful stint as the manager of the Rangers that ended in unceremonious fashion due to some personal issues. Washington has become a bit of a fan favorite in Atlanta and is also an excellent infield coach with his drills and coaching potentially paying big dividends for guys like Dansby Swanson, Ozzie Albies, and Austin Riley among others. He has also been a big part of the clubhouse culture that the Braves have built over the last few seasons and has gotten looks for open managerial positions the last couple of offseasons. That interest is likely to continue, but for the moment the Braves get to reap the rewards of having Washington on staff.
First Base/Outfield Coach - Eric Young Sr.
EY came to the Braves’ coaching staff in 2018 after coaching for the Diamondbacks and Rockies. Other than the duties that his title suggests, he has also been the Braves’ go-to guy for baserunning instruction and strategy at the major league level given his expertise at it when he was a player. Young opted out of the travel of the 2020 season due to being at higher risk of complications from COVID-19 but appears to be back and in the fold normally for the 2021 season.
Catching Coach - Sal Fasano
Sal Fasano joined the Braves’ coaching staff as its catching coach for the 2018 season after a lengthy journeyman career in the major leagues, playing for nine different teams. The Braves’ catching units have ranked among the absolute best in MLB in recent years and while some of that has been due to their offensive prowess, Fasano has also seemingly done well with squeezing more out of his guys in terms of game calling, framing, and controlling the running game.
Bullpen Coach - Drew French
The main change to the Braves’ coaching staff was replacing bullpen coach Marty Reed, who had been with the organization for over a decade, with Drew French. French was the Astros’ Triple-A pitching coach previously before spending time at Houston’s alternate site during the 2020 season.
Assistant Hitting Coach - Jose Castro
Castro has been a coach for the Braves since the 2015 season and before that worked in several organizations at the minor and major league level including the Cubs, Marlins, Padres, Expos, Mariners, and Royals.
Assistant Hitting Coach - Bobby Magallanes
Magallanes joins the Braves’ staff as an additional position rather than by replacing anyone in particularly which speaks to how much the Braves think he can help. During his tenure as Gwinnett’s hitting coach, prospects and big leaguers alike were big fans of his and his techniques and a lot of players seemed to excel under his tutelage. He will work under Kevin Seitzer and alongside Castro.
Part-Time Assistant Hitting Coach - Chipper Jones
I nearly forgot that Chipper was going to be on hand more to help Braves’ hitters in 2021, but fortunately our fearless leader, Kris Willis, kept me from committing that blunder. Chipper’s career and stature are well documented and his insight into the art of hitting could be invaluable to the Braves. The question, ultimately, is how much is actually going to be helping as Chipper strikes most as a guy that is enjoying his well-earned retirement. His involvement will certainly be more than it has been, though, and his presence is a big plus for the organization.