The Braves actually pulled it off. This team was the epitome of average for most of the 2021 MLB season, but coalesced at the perfect time and played superbly to knock off the talented Brewers, Dodgers and Astros en route to a World Series championship.
Congrats to former Marlins outfielder Adam Duvall. He slashed .226/.287/.513 (106 wRC+) during the final couple months of the regular season. Duvall started every game of Atlanta’s postseason run in center field despite sporadic major league experience there.
Does Alex Jackson get a ring out of this? He should! Jackson struggled in 10 early-season games for the Braves before being swapped for Duvall in a July 30 trade.
In that same vein, shoutout to Jeff Mathis. Jake Mintz of FOX Sports details the veteran backstop’s under-the-radar impact as a player-coach of sorts. Mathis, of course, was with the Fish from 2013-2016, revered by all for his defensive prowess.
Relievers Dylan Lee and Grant Dayton were both former Marlins draft picks (classes of 2016 and 2010, respectively). For the moment, Lee has the rare distinction of having pitched more career MLB postseason innings (three) than regular season innings (two). Dayton had to watch from the sidelines in recent months due to left shoulder inflammation.
And yes, Marcell Ozuna technically contributed as well. The once-beloved Dominican outfielder began 2021 with a sub-replacement-level slump, then landed on the injured with fractured fingers, then faded entirely out of the Braves’ plans following an alleged domestic violence incident. He’s been on the restricted list since September 10. A substantial suspension likely awaits him next season. He’ll get to call himself a “World Series champion” nonetheless thanks to the fill-in efforts of Duvall, Eddie Rosario, Jorge Soler and Joc Pederson.
Barring a disruptive MLB work stoppage, the Marlins and Braves are scheduled to play their next meaningful game against each other on March 31, 2022 at LoanDepot Park.