Brian Snitker of the Atlanta Braves received no love from the Baseball Writers Association of America in the NL Manager of the Year award vote.
Once the dust settled, there was one team that remained, standing tall at the end of the 2021 MLB season. That was the Atlanta Braves, as they defeated the Houston Astros in six games to win their first Commissioner’s Trophy since 1995. It was far from easy for Brian Snitker to lead the 88-win team to the Fall Classic, but he got it done.
On Tuesday, the Baseball Writers Association of America revealed the official voting results for the 2021 NL Manager of the Year award, with the winner unsurprisingly being Gabe Kapler of the San Francisco Giants.
But if the ballot showed us anything, it is that Snitker should have received much more love, considering the job he did this year. Snitker had received just four second-place votes and nine third-place votes.
Braves: 3 reasons Brian Snitker should’ve been an NL Manager of the Year candidate
Ronald Acuña’s season-ending injury
The Braves’ chances of contending for the World Series seemingly hinged on star outfielder Ronald Acuña entering the 2021 campaign. But if this year showed anything, Acuña was bitten frequently by the injury bug. His last injury proved to be the worst.
In a July 7 game against the Miami Marlins, Acuña clutched his knee after attempting to catch a fly ball. He tried walking off the field but was ultimately carted into the locker room. Shortly afterward, it was confirmed that Acuña had torn his ACL and that his season was over.
The Braves had the unenviable task of replacing Acuña’s production, and they brought in Joc Pederson, Jorge Soler, Eddie Rosario and Adam Duvall at the trade deadline. Sure enough, the moves paid off, with Soler even winning the World Series MVP.
Marcell Ozuna’s arrest
Not only did Snitker have to manage around the loss of Acuna, but also of designated hitter turned outfielder Marcell Ozuna.
After a strong 2020 campaign, the Braves brought back Ozuna on a four-year, $65 million contract. But, Ozuna did not participate much in the 2021 season for very serious reasons. In late May, Ozuna was arrested and faced misdemeanor charges for family violence battery and simple assault for allegedly assaulting his wife. He was placed on MLB’s administrative leave list through the end of the 2021 season and his status for the 20212 season remains a mystery.
Much like with Acuna, Snikter had to pivot and figure out a way to fix the outfield to make a push for the NL East title. The four aforementioned moves helped Atlanta tremendously, especially once they made the postseason.
Mike Soroka injury
The Braves were banking on young starting pitcher Mike Soroka to have a bounce-back campaign in 2021. After posting a 2.68 ERA in 29 starts in 2019, Soroka’s 2020 season came to an end after he tore his right Achilles tendon.
Atlanta had hoped Soroka would make his return at some point in 2021. However, right shoulder inflammation put a potential return on hold. Then, Soroka, unfortunately, re-tore the same Achilles tendon while walking to the team’s clubhouse at Truist Park and underwent surgery this past July.
Soroka is a pivotal piece in Atlanta’s starting rotation. Once it was determined that he would not take the mound at all this year, Snitker went with the rotation as is, with some bullpen games in the postseason, and it led to a World Series title.