When Ozzie Albies suffered a hamstring injury and needed a break, Culberson was there.
He’s allowed the Braves to be cautious with injuries without worrying about the dropoff in production.
Anthopoulos has found his Taylor, an easy plug and play who also adds to the clubhouse camaraderie.
“He’s the MVP of our team,” NL MVP candidate Freddie Freeman said. “When Ronald went down, he went to left field and kept going. Ozzie’s gone down the last couple of days, and he’s picked it right up. It’s been huge. There’s not many words you can say to describe what Charlie’s been doing. He’s the reason why we have the chance to play meaningful games in September.”
Culberson became the first Atlanta-era Brave with two pinchhit, game-ending homers in a season in early June. Four of his 11 home runs have ended a game. He lives for the big moments, even if he can’t explain how.
Even the Braves couldn’t imagine Culberson becoming such a godsend. Sure, they projected a nifty utilityman, but as Freeman said, he’s been a steady presence on and off the field as his team evolves into a force.
“That’s nice,” Culberson said in response to Freeman’s comments. “It’s just been contagious. Other guys do well, you just feed off that. It makes things a little bit more relaxing. Just happy to be in the mix and helping these guys win.”
Typical Charlie. He won’t accept credit and always defers to others. It’s part of why he’s such a hit with his teammates. He quickly earned respect despite a lackluster on-field resume.
He plays hard and has fun doing it. Nothing much was expected, but he answers every opportunity. He puts the team above himself, setting a standard for younger players to follow.
Sounds like an embodiment of the 2018 Braves.
“He’s just been something else,” manager Brian Snitker said. “I hate to think where we’d be without him right now because he just picks everybody up and can play anywhere. The at-bats have been really, really good.”
Fortunately for the Braves, Culberson’s controllable through 2021. Their MVP utilityman is here to stay.
Culberson began his career with the Giants who drafted him in the 2007 MLB Draft. He spent a few years with them before being traded to the Rockies and eventually signing as a free agaent with the Dodgers.