Brian Snitker and the Atlanta Braves loyalty to one another paid off in so many ways during the 2018 season. The latest being Snitker’s ascension to the top of the managerial heap after being named National League Manager of the Year.
Snitker, who’s been with the Braves organization since 1977 as a player, coach and manager at nearly every level, led the Braves to their first NL title and postseason berth since 2013 by notching a 90-win season. Now he joins Hall of Famer Bobby Cox as the only Braves skippers to win the award. Cox won it four times.
Snitker received 17 first-place votes on ballots from the Baseball Writers Association of America announced Tuesday, topping Craig Counsell of the Milwaukee Brewers and Bud Black of the Colorado Rockies. Counsell received 11 first-place votes. Black and Joe Maddon of the Chicago Cubs each received one first-place vote.
The Manager of the Year is often about which team enjoys the most surprising success. In the NL, no team exceeded expectations more than the Braves. With a talented young core, we knew Atlanta was poised to jump into contention soon. Most everyone had circled 2019 or 2020 as the most likely year for their breakthrough. That it came in 2018 put them ahead of schedule and put Snitker firmly in the conversation as one of the league’s best dugout generals.
Snitker’s task was to bring together a team that had an extraordinary mix of young talent, proven veterans, and veterans looking for a place to fit in. The Braves manager seemed to strike that mix well, particularly when it came to knowing when to back off or press forward when his young players struggled. That allowed Snitker to get the most out of the entire roster.
The Braves were consistent throughout the season, essentially controlling their own destiny the whole way through. Then when it came down to crunch time, they were a relentless force, pulling away from a competitive NL East. That all traces back to Snitker.
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