1. Atlanta Braves
The Dodgers lived this nightmare in 2021, and they’d be foolish to overlook the Atlanta Braves again. General manager Alex Anthopoulos opted to buy at last year’s trade deadline when his team was under .500, and the moves he made resulted in a World Series title that featured a six-game triumph over LA in the NLCS.
Nobody thought Eddie Rosario, Jorge Soler, Adam Duvall, Joc Pederson, Chris Martin or Richard Rodriguez would turn that team into a true contender … but they all did! And the joke’s on us.
The Braves have taken last year’s energy and seamlessly transition into 2022 without Freddie Freeman. At the moment, they’re on the Mets’ tail for the NL East and are leading the NL Wild Card race by 5.5 games. Their pitching is scary good and their offense has been arguably the best in baseball since the start of June.
And there’s room to add! They need a second baseman, could probably use another starter with Charlie Morton and Ian Anderson slipping, and, again, relief help is always welcome once the marathon is in full force. Anthopoulos is one of the few who can rival Friedman’s creativity, and as long as the Braves are in contention, he’ll be right there to do his best to zig while everybody else zags.
The Mets, Brewers and Padres are tough opponents as well, but all of them have some sort of restriction to deal with, whether it be their financials or a seriously plummeting farm system. The Dodgers need to keep an eye on the opponents with a greater potential to surge, and the Braves top that list without a doubt.