Five things the Braves need to do to win the World Series in 2024

Editor’s note: This is the latest in a series of stories previewing the 2024 Atlanta Braves. The AJC will look into the keys for the team this season and hear from several of the top players as the countdown to Thursday’s season opener continues.

NORTH PORT, Fla. – World Series or bust.

You have read and heard it dozens of times this spring. Too many to count.

But this is the expectation for the 2024 Braves. They might be the most talented team in the sport, and they are supplemented with impressive depth.

They are also armed with extra motivation after consecutive early exits – at the hands of the Phillies, no less. The Braves desperately want this year to be different.

World Series or bust.

Here are five things the Braves need to do to achieve their ultimate goal this season:

It starts with the offense

Any conversation about the Braves begins with their dangerous lineup. Ronald Acuña Jr., Matt Olson, Austin Riley, Ozzie Albies and their teammates combine for baseball’s top batting order entering the season.

A year ago, the Braves’ bats rewrote the franchise’s record books. They put together one of the best offensive seasons in MLB history.

The Braves don’t have to exactly match that, but they must resemble themselves. If they are to have a better finish than last year, they must show up in the most critical moments – they cannot stay silent in October.

But before the postseason, they have to perform during the lengthy regular season. This also means staying healthy.

When discussing these Braves, it’s difficult to start with anything other than their powerful lineup. The batting order could carry a mediocre rotation.

The good news for Braves fans: The rotation should be anything but average.

Health in the starting rotation

Spencer Strider, Max Fried, Chris Sale, Charlie Morton and Reynaldo Lopez form one of baseball’s top starting rotations – at least on paper.

The Braves have two aces. Another pitcher, Sale, was once one of the top arms in baseball. In recent seasons, Morton has solidified himself as a frontline starter who shines in the postseason. Lopez could be one of the better fifth starters in the game.

This rotation’s potential is fun to ponder. Strider and Fried could both be in the National League Cy Young conversation. When Sale has been healthy, he’s been nasty.

The questions here: How healthy will this rotation stay?

In each of the last two seasons, the Braves have sprinted toward the postseason, only to experience unfortunate situations. Fried’s stomach bug and blister. Strider’s oblique injury. Morton’s finger ailment.

These were unlucky circumstances. And as we know, the World Series winner often receives fortunate bounces along the way.

If healthy, the Braves could have a special rotation.

Capture the mojo

There’s something in the postseason you cannot measure. Try as you might, you can hardly understand it.

But it’s really, really important.

Here’s one word for it: Mojo.

In October, some teams have it and others do not. And it becomes clear who possesses it.

Baseball is different – and sometimes frustrating – because of this. The best regular-season teams sometimes don’t advance deep into October. The 2023 Braves were a juggernaut, but won only one postseason game.

This spring, Spencer Strider also talked about limiting distractions in the postseason. (He didn’t mention the “Atta boy, Arcia” incident, but that came to mind.) The Braves should be above all of the noise.

The postseason seems so random. But the Braves don’t want to leave anything to chance. They want to do everything they can to ensure their goal is accomplished.

Baseball is about getting hot at the correct time. Teams want to peak heading into October, and have the baseball gods on their side in the playoffs.

How do you do this?

Well, if anyone had the answer on how to capture the postseason magic – or mojo, as we’ve put it – then that person would bottle it and sell it.

Contributions from everywhere

There are a handful of talented teams in baseball.

Here’s what separates the Braves: They aren’t a top-heavy bunch. Up and down the roster, they’re loaded.

Their seventh-best hitter might be as productive as a team’s third-best hitter. Their third and fourth starters might compete to be No. 2 starters on other contending teams. The reliever who pitches in the seventh would be a setup man or a closer on other clubs.

Yes, the Braves have Acuña. But Albies, who can be overshadowed by his teammates, is one of baseball’s top offensive second basemen.

There are tons of examples, but the point is this: The Braves have the best of both worlds – talent and depth. They have more good players than just about any other team. Only one or two squads (if any, really) can match them in this area.

The Braves need to keep using this to their advantage. If they receive contributions from many places, they’re almost unstoppable.

There’s no easy way to get through Atlanta’s lineup. The rotation should give the Braves a chance to win almost nightly. The bullpen might be a buzzsaw for opponents.

The Braves won’t always have everyone clicking at once, but they have more players who are likely to perform than almost anyone in baseball.

Stay healthy overall (again)

You’ll notice this is the second point about health. That’s because it’s important.

The Braves, as we’ve discussed, are supremely talented at every spot. They have no obvious holes.

Other than unexpected underperformance, injuries are the only thing that could slow this team.

If the Braves stay healthy, they’ll be a difficult out in October.