As the postseason excitingly gets underway, it appears clear that Blue Jays fans should cheer for the Atlanta Braves, and for good reason.
In all honesty, the postseason hasn’t gone swimmingly thus far for the young, exuberant Atlanta Braves. Facing a tough Los Angeles Dodgers team, they quickly fell in a 2-0 hole to open up the National League Division Series. As of this writing, it’s not over yet, but it could still be the end of the line for the Braves.
Regardless, Blue Jays fans could do a lot worse than cheering for these Braves. Aside from the obvious connection due to general manager Alex Anthopoulos, the Braves are effectively what the vision for this Blue Jays team is a couple years down the line.
Filled with youth and athleticism, the front office would surely be thrilled if the Blue Jays could be compared to the Braves in 2020, the projected year of competition, per Blue Jays GM Ross Atkins. It might be a dangerous premise to present, but it’s not hard to see the connection between the current Atlanta team and what the hopeful future is for the Jays.
Notably, the Braves have made excellent use of super prospect Ronald Acuña Jr., who, in his rookie season, stunned opposing pitchers, slashing an otherwordly .293/.366/.552 in 111 major league contests. Supported by Johan Camargo and Ender Inciarte, the native of La Guaira, Venezuela formerly had the same prospect status that is now the property of Vladimir Guerrero Jr.
Young pitching is also at the centre of the Braves dominance atop the NL East. Sean Newcomb (3.90 ERA, 164.0 IP, 160 K, 1.329 WHIP) and Mike Foltynewicz (2.85 ERA, 183.0 IP, 202 K, 1.082 WHIP) have complemented a slew of veterans in keeping opposing offences off the basepaths. It’s this baseball synergy that has allowed them to stay consistently effective.
But most of all, what makes the Braves so easy to cheer for is the sense of familiarity that they bring to the current Toronto Blue Jays fan base. In a sense, they’re a year ahead of their rebuild schedule. According to some experts, they shouldn’t even really be in the conversation for a World Series team right now. Yet, with some miraculously consistent play throughout a long and testing season, they managed to clinch their division and ride to the playoffs.
It’s easy to cheer for someone similar to the ones you cheer for, and right now, the Braves are ultimately the closest thing to that. Even if the season might come to a merciful end in a matter of days, there’s still hope for them to edge out the veteran Dodgers.
“Hope” is a word that is bound to appear frequently in various pieces of analysis desperately trying to break down the complex enigma that is the Toronto Blue Jays rebuild. If one can distance oneself from the abstract nature of the whole thing, it might not seem so intricate, just ask the Atlanta Braves.