Ranking baseball’s general managers for 2018: Part 3

OAKLAND, CA - AUGUST 13: General Manager David Forst of the Oakland Athletics sits in the clubhouse prior to the game against the Seattle Mariners at the Oakland Alameda Coliseum on August 13, 2018 in Oakland, California. The Athletics defeated the Mariners 7-6. (Photo by Michael Zagaris/Oakland Athletics/Getty Images)
OAKLAND, CA - AUGUST 13: General Manager David Forst of the Oakland Athletics sits in the clubhouse prior to the game against the Seattle Mariners at the Oakland Alameda Coliseum on August 13, 2018 in Oakland, California. The Athletics defeated the Mariners 7-6. (Photo by Michael Zagaris/Oakland Athletics/Getty Images) /
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TORONTO, ON – OCTOBER 26: Toronto Blue Jays general manager, Alex Anthopoulos, addresses the media at the Rogers Centre after the Blue Jays lost Game 6 of the American League Championship Series to Kansas City Royals last Friday. (Melissa Renwick/Toronto Star via Getty Images) /

5. Alex Anthopoulos, Atlanta Braves, +3.5 games

His work with the Braves is noteworthy for a couple of reasons, not least of which is that Anthopoulos was no part of Atlanta’s plans until an MLB investigation turned up irregularities surrounding Atlanta’s handling of international prospects toward the end of the 2017 season.

In October that led to the dismissal – and lifetime banning from MLB — of GM John Coppolella and forced the Braves to do a quick search for a replacement. Anthopoulos, the former Toronto Blue Jays GM and at the time an executive in the Dodgers front office, was available, and in November the Braves hired him.

The sexy path would be to credit Anthopoulos for Atlanta’s sudden rise from an NL East afterthought to division champion. There is some measure of truth to that, although the reality is the Braves were positioned for a sharp upward tic even before Anthopoulos arrived. The core of the team was put in place by Coppolella and Anthopoulos’ major farm system harvest – outfielder Ronald Acuna Jr. – had grown through Copollela’s system.

Giving Anthopoulos credit for “producing” Acuna and his +2.9 WAA, while technically true, is a bit misleading.

Still Anthopoulos gets credit for enhancing the Braves’ core. His pickup of journeyman pitcher Anibal Sanchez (+1.9 WAA) filled an obvious need. His re-signing of backup catcher Kurt Suzuki went largely unnoticed, but proved to be solid if unspectacular.