ATLANTA (AP) — For most of the season, the Atlanta Braves were overachievers.
They lost seven players to season-ending injuries. Two more key players batted under .200. Even with all that, the Braves managed to win 96 games and capture their first division since 2005.
But once October arrived, it was the same ol' story.
Another postseason disappointment.
The Braves haven't won a postseason series since 2001, their streak of eight straight losses now the second-longest in baseball history to the Chicago Cubs, who dropped 10 series in a row between 1910 and 1998, according to STATS LLC.
"A lot of good stuff happened," manager Fredi Gonzalez insisted after the season ended Monday night in the NL division series with a 4-3 loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers. "A lot of guys participated in the 96-win season. It's going to be one of those seasons that you're not going to appreciate for about a couple of weeks, and then you say, 'You know what? It was a pretty darn good team, a pretty darn good season.'"
Indeed, there are plenty of reasons for the Braves to be hopeful.
First baseman Freddie Freeman had an MVP-type season. Young pitchers Kris Medlen, Mike Minor and Julio Teheran took the lead in the starting rotation, especially after Tim Hudson went down with a broken ankle. Shortstop Andrelton Simmons could be in line for a Gold Glove. Evan Gattis emerged as one of the NL's top rookies. Closer Craig Kimbrel had another dominant season.
"I don't know what's going to happen during the offseason, but I'm already looking forward to spring training," Freeman said. "Hopefully we can start preparing over again with these same guys. I think we're really close."
But the postseason has been a huge stumbling block. Since winning the NL pennant in 1999, the Braves are 13-30 in playoff games — with only one victory in 11 postseason series during that span.
While the players on this team had nothing to do with most of those October failures (catcher Brian McCann and Hudson were the only holdovers from Atlanta's last division champion in 2005), it has become the defining theme of the franchise going back to the early 1990s, when the Braves managed only one World Series title during a remarkable run of 14 straight division titles.
"All the regular-season accomplishments, those don't count anymore once you get to the postseason," outfielder Jason Heyward said.