OLD MEETS NEW
Baseball America|December 2020
Brian Snitker expertly navigated the Braves to a third straight division title despite myriad pitching injuries
GABE BURNS

Braves manager Brian Snitker had his doubts about camps reopening on July 3 after a three and a half month shutdown. MLB was attempting its season in the midst of a pandemic.

“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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