This was sweetly bitter stuff. In the here-and-now of Atlanta Buzz, the Braves started to win at a propitious moment. Sunday's farewell to Turner Field -- the Braves won 1-0 to eliminate Detroit, a team of massive resources, from postseason consideration --
was a fine time for everyone there
and everyone watching, and surely it made some folks who'd sworn off this team in a a transition both figurative and literal reconsider their vows never to set foot in SunTrust.
That said: In a purely baseball sense, the No. 1 pick has immense value. You don't have to wait on anyone else. You can grab the best player on your board. You're given the most money to use in slot allocation. You control the draft.
The Houston Astros went from losing 100-plus games to last year's playoffs by having the 1-1 pick three years running. The Chicago Cubs went from losing 101 games in 2012 to winning 103 this season by having five consecutive top 10 picks, including Kris Bryant at No. 2 in 2013 and Kyle Schwarber at No. 4 in 2014. One of the reasons the Braves' farm system went fallow was that the big club won too much and went from 1991 to 2013 with only one top 10 pick -- Mike Minor at No. 7 in 2009. The first Round 1 pick of the Coppolella/Hart administration was Kolby Allard at No. 14.
Being John Coppolella,
he found a workaround by purloining Swanson, the 1-1 of 2015, from Arizona
, but I imagine seeing the final standings made the general manager cringe, if just a bit. Because of
the cancellation of the Sept. 25 game in Miami after Jose Fernandez's death
, the Braves played one fewer game than the other teams at/near the bottom of the table. They finished a half-game ahead/behind the Reds, Padres and Rays. Had the Braves lost Sunday, they'd have been picking No. 2.
And Bryant, the No. 2 pick of three years back? He'll surely be the National League's MVP.
Super fun reading:
The Braves are a .500 team! (If you don't count the first half.)