“I was skeptical,” Snitker said. “I didn’t think this thing was going to get off the ground. I think it took about two weeks of that second camp for the players to register, too.”
MLB made it through, and the Braves posted one of their best seasons in recent memory despite myriad rotation issues. They came within 12 outs of a World Series berth largely thanks to what might be remembered as Snitker’s best managerial performance.
Snitker embodies the baseball lifer. After several seasons playing in the Braves’ minor league system, then-executive Hank Aaron informed Snitker of his release in 1981. But the release also came with a job offer to begin a coaching career with the organization.
“I didn’t really interview,” Snitker recalled in 2017. “He just released me and offered me a coaching job.”
Snitker, 65, has spent more than four decades with the Braves. After a career coaching in the minors and serving on MLB staffs, he took over as the Braves’ interim manager in May 2016 when Fredi Gonzalez.
Those 2016 Braves, for all their lack of talent, went 31-25 after Aug. 1, including a 12-2 finish. Snitker earned another season, but he and the team almost parted ways in 2017 as the Braves completed a 72-win campaign. Snitker kept his post as the organization underwent a regime change forced by a series of malpractices committed by former leadership.
Enter general manager Alex Anthopoulos, who kept Snitker aboard and provided a needed calm, credible presence. His faith in Snitker was rewarded. Sparked by their youth, including National League Rookie of the Year Ronald Acuña Jr., the 2018 Braves surprised with 90 wins and the NL East crown.
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OLD MEETS NEW
Brian Snitker expertly navigated the Braves to a third straight division title despite myriad pitching injuries
Focusing on the Northeast pays off for the Indians
Over the past few years, the Indians have mined the Northeast for talent. The 2020 team got big-time contributions from former college righthanders Aaron Civale (Northeastern) and James Karinchak (Bryant). Waiting in the wings are three more prospects from the region, all from high school: third baseman Nolan Jones (Bensalem, Pa.), catcher Bo Naylor (Mississauga, Ont.) and righthander Lenny Torres (Beacon, N.Y). All five of those players were signed by area scout Mike Kanen, a former Baseball America intern. BA recently spoke with Kanen about his first impressions of those players. The interview is edited for brevity.
Bobby Dickerson was integral in transforming the Padres’ infield from error-prone to October-caliber
TRUST THE TOOLS
The minor league season was lost, but dynasty players should keep the faith for these nine prospects
HISTORY IN THE MAKING: FEW TEAMS CAN MATCH THE DODGERS' DOMINANCE
The 2020 Dodgers led the National League in runs scored and fewest runs allowed.
From scouting to player development to analytics to acquisition, the Dodgers cover all the bases as baseball’s model franchise.
COAST TO COAST
Andrew Friedman has more money to play with in Los Angeles than he did in Tampa Bay, but his core principles remain unchanged— just like the results
WINTER OF DISCONTENT
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A MODERN-DAY CRASH DAVIS
Cody Decker mashed his way into the hearts of minor league fans
A LASTING LEGACY
All-star player. Decorated manager. Ambassador for the Dominican Republic. Felipe Alou wore many hats, but above all he was a pioneer who helped pave the way for generations of Latino players.
SHREVEPORT Then & Now
Photos blended and used with permission by Mike and Mark Mangham of Twin Blends Photography. Vintage photos courtesy of Keith Todaro and LSUS Archives and Special Collections. For more blended photos, visit www.facebook.com/twinblendsphotography.
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