Before I start tackling the MVPs and LVPs of each postseason series dating back to 1991, I thought it would be good to take a look at the 2021 postseason as a whole and determine the Braves MVPs and LVPs, mostly through the lens of cWPA. Given what a success the 2021 postseason was for Atlanta, I will once again limit the LVPs to five and you will note that even the LVPs generally all contributed something positive to this magical run. It was also hard to narrow down the top 10 MVPs so I added some guys to the honorable mention section. Counting them down from 10 to 1, here are the Braves 2021 postseason MVPs:
Charlie Morton (+4.0% cWPA) – Had some tough luck, between the injury and being asked to do a little too much in the NLDS, but still pitched well, kept the Braves in the games he pitched and deserved a better fate.
Luke Jackson (-4.7% cWPA) – The rough NLCS really dragged his totals down, but Luke had a big impact in the NLDS and the WS.
Kyle Wright (+5.2% cWPA) – Kyle only appeared in the WS, but what a job he did allowing the Braves to steal game 4.
Joc Pederson(-3.5% cWPA) – Not much to write home about after the NLDS other than the homer off Scherzer, but Joc helped carry the offense against Milwaukee and really seemed to loosen up the clubhouse with his antics.
10) A.J. Minter (+2.1% cWPA) – Giving up the lead in Game 5 of the World Series cost Minter a loftier spot on our list, but A.J. had 6 scoreless outings in high leverage situations and 3 of those were more than an inning. The only other time he was scored upon may have been his most valuable moment, when he relieved Morton in Game 1 of the World Series and went 2.2 innings allowing 1 run. He really helped cover the lack of depth in the pen.
9) Dansby Swanson (-0.9% cWPA) – Dansby may have saved the Brewers series with his glove, which doesn’t show up on cWPA. Didn’t have the greatest postseason offensively, but his 2 homers couldn’t have come at a better time. One to tie Game 4 of the World Series and one to put Game 6 out of reach.
8) Max Fried (+6.3% cWPA) – I could see the argument for lower than this, as Max was mostly responsible for 2 of the 5 Atlanta losses this postseason, and I could see the argument that he should be higher as he pretty much dominated the 3 games he won, especially the clincher. I’ll split the difference and put him about where cWPA says he should be.
7) Freddie Freeman (+5.8% cWPA) – Freddie has a career batting line of .295/.384/.509 and he bested everyone of those numbers this postseason batting .303/.432/.625. The only reason he isn’t higher is that most of his damage came either in blowouts or losses and didn’t really have much of an impact with the notable exception of the homer off Hader to send Atlanta to the NLCS.
6) Ian Anderson (+15.0% cWPA) – Honestly the top 6 all have a case for the most valuable player of the postseason. The Braves won all 4 of Anderson’s starts and had he pitched a little deeper in the NLCS, he would probably have a strong claim on number 1. Has now pitched in 6 postseason series and has a positive WPA in each one. Also has never allowed a hit in the World Series, let’s hope he can add to his 5 hitless innings next year.
5) Eddie Rosario (+18.1% cWPA) – Eddie almost single handedly carried the Braves offense to the NLCS win, and I believe that was the hardest of the series to win so he gets a little extra credit from me there. The Dodgers just had no answer for Super Rosario. It’s not like he disappeared for the other two series either, adding a huge 2 run single against Milwaukee and a tremendous catch to rob Altuve in the World Series.
4) Will Smith (+18.8% cWPA) – Hard to ask for much better than pitching a scoreless inning in each of Atlanta’s 11 postseason wins. I wouldn’t call Will’s performance dominating, but he was absolutely rock solid and didn’t make my blood pressure spike once in the playoffs. Only allowed 8 baserunners in 11 innings.
3) Jorge Soler (+22.7% cWPA) – Really only here for his World Series performance, but what a well timed performance it was. Jorge hit go-ahead homers in three of the four World Series wins and none bigger than the 3-run moonshot that cleared the train tracks in Game 6 that is likely to be the most memorable moment from this playoff run.
2) Austin Riley (+21.0% cWPA) – Of all of the differences between this year’s team and last year’s, Riley’s performance stands out. In 2020 Riley hurt the Braves’ chances in each of the 3 playoff series. In 2021, the exact opposite as Riley consistently increased the Braves Championship odds and he had several key hits across all 3 series. Gets the nod from me over Soler and Rosario for consistency.
1) Tyler Matzek (+23.8% cWPA) – One of the most clutch performances of all time and you could’ve made an argument for Tyler as the MVP of each series. In his 6 postseason series in his career Matzek has added positive cWPA in each of them. Also his total WPA for these past 2 years is 1.73, which is about half of John Smoltz career total of 3.6. Smoltz ranks 3rd all-time in MLB. If Soler’s homer isn’t the moment of the postseason, Matzek striking out the side with 2nd and 3rd and no one out against the Dodgers is the other main contender for me.
5) Adam Duvall (-2.2% cWPA) – Adam seemed to be finding his groove against Houston but oftentimes looked lost at the plate and on the basepaths in the playoffs. Adam did have a nice catch to potentially rob the Dodgers of the homer in the NLCS and his grand slam would’ve looked bigger had the lead held up.
4) Travis d’Arnaud (-7.7% cWPA) – Second worst by cWPA and that doesn’t even account for his complete inability to slow down the running game. Travis really should get a ton of credit for the success of the pitching staff though as he caught every inning and called some great games.
3) Braves Spot Starters (-10.1% cWPA) – I’m lumping Huascar Ynoa in here with Tucker Davidson and Dylan Lee. Combined this trio gave Atlanta 4 innings and allowed 7 runs. I still like the future for each of these guys, but they did not shine when given the chance this year.
2) Braves Bench other than Joc (-9.9% cWPA) – Johan Camargo, Ehire Adrianza, Orlando Arcia, William Contreras and Guillermo Heredia combined to go 1-23 in the postseason. The one hit was a big one in Game 6 of the NLCS by Adrianza ahead of Rosario’s 3 run homer.
1) Ozzie Albies (-8.8% cWPA) – Seems a bit harsh for the guy who led the team in runs scored with 12, but Ozzie reduced the Braves Championship odds in each round. He did respond when finally moved down in the order, but Ozzie had a rough postseason at the plate.