ATLANTA — Freddie Freeman proved why he is the franchise’s cornerstone and Dansby Swanson provided a glimpse into the future as the Braves’ rebuilding process seemed to fade in the distance in 2016. When Turner Field’s 20-season history concluded with a 1-0 win over the Tigers on Oct. 2, the Braves exited the season having won 20 of their final 30 games, including 12 of their final 14.
This strong finish enhanced hope for the future, influenced the removal of the “interim” tag from Brian Snitker’s managerial title on Oct. 11 and avoided what had seemed destined to be a 100-loss season.
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But an inspiring September that was fueled by the late-season additions of Swanson and Matt Kemp was not enough to erase the consequences of the season’s first two months, a period that cost Fredi Gonzalez his job on May 17. After starting the season with nine straight losses and exiting May with a 15-36 record, the Braves saw the tide change on June 15 when they erased a two-run deficit against the Reds to win a 13-inning game. Freeman hit for the cycle and began a three-plus-month offensive surge.
The Braves won 50 of their final 97 games to finish at 68-93. Freeman finished sixth in the National League MVP balloting, Julio Teheran bounced back from a rough …