The rebuild continues for the Atlanta Braves. The team ushered in a new stadium in 2016 and climbed to third in the NL East though with just 72-wins, the improvement in the win total was marginal. Still, it’s upward progress for a team that’s been mired on the downside for a few seasons.The offseason was not particularly pleasant for the Braves. Mired in a scandal that cost the team several prospects and executives, the team is now on the mend and hopeful its young roster can start showing gains. With quite a few quality young players on the roster and many more on the way, Atlanta will be good again very soon, they’re just not quite there for 2018.
2017 Record: 72-90
2017 Moneyline Record: -4.11 Units
2017 Over/Under Total Record: 81-76-5
Current World Series Odds: +12500
Current Odds To Win NL: +6500
Current Odds To Win NL East: +1700
Regular Season Win Total: 74.5
The Braves traded Matt Kemp to the Dodgers, adding on plenty of payroll for 2018 in the process, but clearing a spot for heralded prospect Ronald Acuna whenever he’s ready.
While Atlanta’s payroll is inflated some for 2018, the move also allows the Braves plenty of flexibility in next year’s free agent market as the team inches closer to relevancy.
For now, Atlanta will be looking for small improvements.
Offensively, the Braves have a nice core in place. They were 21st in baseball in runs scored in 2017, but were without Freddie Freeman for an extended period as well.
The Braves’ first baseman is one of the elite hitters in the game. In just 117 games, Freeman batted .307 with a .403 OBP and .586 slugging percentage. He hammered 28 homers to lead the Braves and drove in 71 runs. He’s a great all-around hitter.
Building around him in the center of the lineup, the Braves also have a quality lead-off hitter in Ender Inciarte who hit .304 with a .350 OBP and 22 steals in 2017. He’s a prototypical lead-off hitter, something that’s hard to find in today’s game.
Filling in the rest of the order, the Braves have a combination of young players trying to find their way and veterans holding down spots for the future.
As for the youngsters, Dansby Swanson is key. He struggled through 2017, but is an extraordinary talent. He needs to play up to his potential and develop into a quality hitter. He’ll have a new double-play partner up the middle from what he started with in 2017.
Ozzie Albies takes over full time at second base after a promising trial run last year. He hit .286 with a .810 OPS In 57 games.
Johan Camargo is slated for third and Preston Tucker is projected to start in left-field. Tucker has struggled in his chances in Houston.
As for the veterans, the backstops are both in their thirties with Tyler Flowers and Kurt Suzuki expected to split the catching duties. Nick Markakis remains on the team in right field.
On the mound, the Braves have a blend of youth and experience in the rotation. Part of the Kemp deal, the Braves add Brandon McCarthy and Scott Kazmir to eat innings in the back of the rotation and support fellow starters Julio Teheran, Mike Foltynewicz and Sean Newcomb. Of the nine top prospects in the Atlanta syst
em found on some top-100 list, seven are starting pitchers. Amongst those prospects, Luiz Gohara, Max Fried, Mike Soroka, Kolby Allard and maybe even Kyle Wright could make impacts in Atlanta this year. Several other lesser regarded prospects could factor in as well.
There are a lot of options for the Braves, but for Atlanta to exceed expectations, Teheran is key. The right-hander is still only 27-years old, but has five full seasons under his belt, pitching like an ace in a few. In 2017, Teheran struggled in his new home ballpark and ended with a 4.49 ERA. In 2016, he pitched to a 3.21 ERA. A good Teheran could set the tone for the rotation to overproduce.
Success in the rotation can also help limit the exposure of the bullpen. Atlanta’s pen had the third worst ERA in the NL last year, but there are some solid arms led by Arodys Vizcaino in the ninth.
The Braves are in a transition period. We’re starting to see the youngsters stick in the Big Leagues. As the season progresses, we should see Acuna and several young pitchers emerge on the scene. This will be a year to get the youngsters experience before they’re counted on to win soon.
|Baltimore Orioles||Baltimore, Maryland||Oriole Park at Camden Yards|
|Boston Red Sox||Boston, Massachusetts||Fenway Park|
|New York Yankees||New York City, New York||Yankee Stadium|
|Tampa Bay Rays||St. Petersburg, Florida||Tropicana Field|
|Toronto Blue Jays||Toronto, Ontario||Rogers Centre|
|CENTRAL||Chicago White Sox||Chicago, Illinois||Guaranteed Rate Field|
|Cleveland Indians||Cleveland, Ohio||Progressive Field|
|Detroit Tigers||Detroit, Michigan||Comerica Park|
|Kansas City Royals||Kansas City, Missouri||Kauffman Stadium|
|Minnesota Twins||Minneapolis, Minnesota||Target Field|
|WEST||Houston Astros||Houston, Texas||Minute Maid Park|
|Los Angeles Angels||Anaheim, California||Angel Stadium|
|Oakland Athletics||Oakland, California||Oakland–Alameda County Coliseum|
|Seattle Mariners||Seattle, Washington||Safeco Field|
|Texas Rangers||Arlington, Texas||Globe Life Park in Arlington|
|EAST||Atlanta Braves||Atlanta, Georgia||SunTrust Park|
|Miami Marlins||Miami, Florida||Marlins Park|
|New York Mets||New York City, New York||Citi Field|
|Philadelphia Phillies||Philadelphia, Pennsylvania||Citizens Bank Park|
|Washington Nationals||Washington, D.C.||Nationals Park|
|CENTRAL||Chicago Cubs||Chicago, Illinois||Wrigley Field|
|Cincinnati Reds||Cincinnati, Ohio||Great American Ball Park|
|Milwaukee Brewers||Milwaukee, Wisconsin||Miller Park|
|Pittsburgh Pirates||Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania||PNC Park|
|St. Louis Cardinals||St. Louis, Missouri||Busch Stadium|
|WEST||Arizona Diamondbacks||Phoenix, Arizona||Chase Field|
|Colorado Rockies||Denver, Colorado||Coors Field|
|Los Angeles Dodgers||Los Angeles, California||Dodger Stadium|
|San Diego Padres||San Diego, California||Petco Park|
|San Francisco Giants||San Francisco, California||AT&T Park|
March 29-31: vs Philadelphia Phillies
April 2-4: vs Washington Nationals
April 6-8: at Colorado Rockies
April 9-11: at Washington Nationals
April 13-15: at Chicago Cubs
April 16-18: vs Philadelphia Phillies
April 19-22: vs New York Mets
April 23-26: at Cincinnati Reds
April 27-29: at Philadelphia Phillies
In the second season in their new stadium, the Braves will look to take a nice step forward as they continue to graduate some of their top young prospects. Playing most of their games in the NL East should give them a nice advantage in improving on the 70-wins of 2017.
Atlanta kicks off their season at home against the Phillies and played Philadelphia three more times before May. The Phillies were last in the division last year, but they played the Braves tough as Atlanta was only 6-13 against Philadelphia last season.
The only other team the Braves play twice in April is the Washington Nationals, the heavy favorites in the NL East. Despite having a much better team than Philly, the Braves played the Nats tougher in 2017, going 9-10 against them, outscoring them by 15 runs, 103 to 88.
Along with the competition, weather could also factor into how well the Braves start the year. They’re spending a month and a half in Florida before getting back-to-back series at home. That’s all good, but they then quickly transition to the cold of Colorado, Washington D.C. and Chicago before returning home mid-April.
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