The 2023 Atlanta Braves put together one of the greatest regular seasons in franchise history and unfortunately, that isn’t going to be what is remembered most about this group. The Braves season ended in disappointing fashion Thursday night with a 3-1 loss. It is the second straight season that the Braves’ season ended in the Division Series in Philadelphia, a team that they finished 14 games ahead of in the standings.
“It’s one of those things where you’ve been with them for seven, seven and a half months,” Snitker said when asked about what he told the team after the loss. “Pretty much just told them they have nothing to hang their heads about. It stinks what just happened.”
“We wanted to go deep into this postseason, but I said it my first meeting every year, it’s like we want to check the first box, win the division because you never know what might happen. I told them how proud I was of them. What happened this year was phenomenal, a phenomenal year for our club. Didn’t end the way we wanted it to, but it doesn’t always do that in this game. But I said take a couple of months off and then we’re going to go back to North Port in the middle of February and gear up to do it again.”
Coming into the postseason, it was hard to imagine that a team that set numerous offensive records would ultimately be undone by a lack of offense and not its pitching staff. The Braves got a good enough performance from its starters and bullpen, but were simply unable to generate enough offense to give themselves a chance. The Braves entered the playoffs as the top overall seed and the team adjusted how it handled the week long break during the Wild Card round, but still ended up with the same result.
“That’s a good question,” Snitker said. “We thought we did everything possible during the delay, recreated things the best we could. We can do everything right and all that and you start a series, and you know what, your offense doesn’t get traction. I mean it could happen anytime. It happens in series, over the course of the summer.”
“I don’t know that we could have done anything any better or been more thorough in what we did with our time off to get us ready to play, other than the fact that when you’re doing that, the adrenaline and playing for something that’s not there. That’s a big deal. The players were unbelievable in how they handled it all, the energy, the focus that they had. Yeah, I don’t know that we can do it any better.”
A disappointing finish like this will take some time to process. Snitker was quick to credit the Phillies and rightfully so. They outplayed the Braves in all four games and it felt fortunate that Atlanta was able to avoid a sweep.
“It’s tough. It takes a while to get over something like this after the year we had, the expectation we have here,” Snitker said. “The Phillies stifled us. I mean they pitched really well. They had great plans. Their guys got big hits. I mean you can’t take anything away from that. We got beat and didn’t play good enough to win the series. It’s as simple as that. We got beat by a really good club that has a pension for this time of year.”
The Braves are just the latest top seed to see their season come to an end. Atlanta joins the Dodgers, Orioles, Rays and Brewers as teams with 92 wins that all had early exits. It is the second straight year that the top teams have struggled in the expanded playoff format, but Snitker didn’t want to make excuses and pointed to the Astros as an example of a team that hasn’t been bothered by the new format.
“I’m not going to say that’s an excuse for us. I look at the Astros. It didn’t bother them,” Snitker said. “They kind of kept hitting on all cylinders. I remember I used to ask Bobby if he worried about clinching too early, even for the playoffs, and he never did. I mean it was always like, no. You know what, when we go into this next year, we’re going to try and fight like heck to get home field, win the division.”
“It’s not ideal, and that’s why we changed the format of our week,” he added. “It’s not ideal, but you know what, if we want to put ourselves in that position, we gotta figure out a way, whether it’s just internally or whatever. Because, you know, it is. I said I always worried at the All Star break when we got four days off, but the whole industry does. So it’s different.”
“It’s hard when you’re in this, an every day sport. I never liked two days off as a team or whatever. I think one day is plenty. But you know what, it’s what it is, and we gotta figure it out.”
That they do, and they have all winter to think about it.