As a Cubs fan in Braves country, I see a lot of similarities in the Braves to the 2015 Chicago Cubs team. They offensive pieces are falling in place as they have a couple MVP candidates. One being a veteran 1B in Freddie Freeman and the other is an exciting young player that is the future of the franchise, but the rotation may not be there yet. They have plenty of nice prospect arms coming from the minors, however, I’m not sure they are ready to carry the team yet. Atlanta does have the pieces in the farm system to make some trades if they need to as well.

The NL East is likely the most competitive division in baseball. It is the only division projected with 4 teams over 80 wins per the THOME projection system. Currently, the Braves are the front runner per THOME, the Nationals and Phillies are tied per PECOTA, and Vegas odds favor the Phillies. Regardless, it’s going to be a fun season for Braves fans and they have a lot to look forward to, not only in this season, but for the future.

 

Lineup

Order Name Position G PA AB H HR R RBI BB SO SB AVG OBP SLG
1 Ender Inciarte CF 144 614 556 152 9 67 58 45 82 22 0.274 0.331 0.385
2 Josh Donaldson 3B 126 555 468 120 26 78 74 76 121 4 0.257 0.364 0.479
3 Freddie Freeman 1B 146 646 554 159 26 90 91 78 131 8 0.286 0.379 0.506
4 Ronald Acuna Jr. LF 143 651 580 162 28 94 81 57 158 24 0.279 0.347 0.491
5 Nick Markakis RF 135 567 500 137 11 61 62 57 82 1 0.274 0.35 0.402
6 Ozzie Albies 2B 143 618 565 155 19 76 74 40 102 15 0.273 0.324 0.449
7 Tyler Flowers C 77 312 272 67 9 32 35 28 79 1 0.248 0.335 0.398
8 Dansby Swanson SS 120 473 419 104 11 47 50 45 100 7 0.249 0.322 0.39
Name Position G PA AB H HR R RBI BB SO SB AVG OBP SLG
Bench Johan Camargo INF 95 391 353 92 11 41 46 30 78 1 0.261 0.322 0.416
Bench Brian McCann C 49 200 175 40 8 21 24 19 38 1 0.229 0.311 0.396
Bench Charlie Culberson INF 34 135 124 29 3 13 14 8 32 2 0.236 0.286 0.361
Bench Adam Duvall OF 60 248 225 51 10 27 32 17 65 2 0.225 0.288 0.414
Prospect Austin Riley Braves 18 75 68 17 3 8 9 5 22 0 0.249 0.304 0.426

Ender Inciarte – He got to the numbers you were expecting in roto, but in the first half, Ender was the lead off hitter and had 23 stolen bases with a .241 average. He got moved back in the lineup in the 2nd half of the season and only stole 5 bases while getting caught 6 times, but hit .302. Right now he’s projected at the top of the lineup, at least versus righties, but he’s been an avoid for me in drafts as the season split in speed and batting order is too much risk for me inside the top 150.

Josh Donaldson – A 30+ HR threat hitting in the middle of the lineup. There is upside if he can stay healthy. While I don’t have many shares, I will say, it’s really only 2018 that he didn’t get to his 30 HR number in the last 4 seasons, which includes a 33 HR effort in only 113 games in 2017.

Freddie Freeman – Top 75 in barrels per plate appearance (top 100 per batted ball event), 107th in hard hit rate, 121st in hard hit rate. I give you those stats to say, no, I’m not worried that he only hit 23 home runs last season. He’s my #2 ranked 1B and I’m happy to take him in the third round, although ADP says if you want him, it’s in the second.

Ronald Acuna Jr. – The man, the myth, the legend. #4 in Grey’s rankings and mine. Ronald Acuna Jr. is going to be a monster this season. Not much room for him to move up in the rankings, but he just might do it in 2020.

Nick Markakis – Markakis had a resurgence in the 1st half hitting .323 with 10 home runs, but dropped back to earth after the All-Star break batting .258 with 4 homers. He can give you playing time, but he’s better in a points format where his good walk rate and low K rate matter.

Ozzie Albies – .281/20 HR/9 SB vs .226/4 HR/5 SB. First half Albies vs second half Albies. It can take time for young switch hitters to figure out the non-dominant side, in addition to the normal learning curve at the major league level. How did the Braves offense function in the second half if everybody on the team fell off? O right, Acuna went off. With Albies, we may be looking at a situation where he could lead off vs righties and be dropped to 6 or 7 against lefties with his .335 vs lefties and.231 batting average vs righties split.

Tyler Flowers/Brian McCann – They’re fine as a second catcher.

Dansby Swanson – Quietly hit 14 home runs with 10 stolen bases last season with great defense at shortstop, but the fantasy community and Atlanta fans seem to be done with Swanson. Well, it may be for a good reason as those HR and SB came with a .238/.304/.395 slash line. I also like taking a late shot on Johan Camargo in deeper leagues as I don’t believe Dansby has 100% job security as he did last season.

 

Rotation

Spot Name Team W L ERA GS G SV IP ER SO BB WHIP K/9 BB/9
1 Julio Teheran Braves 7 9 4.82 23 23 0 131 70 115 51 1.41 7.94 3.5
2 Kevin Gausman Braves 9 9 4.1 26 26 0 156 71 138 44 1.29 7.99 2.52
3 Sean Newcomb Braves 8 8 4.17 23 23 0 128 59 132 62 1.41 9.25 4.37
4 Touki Toussaint Braves 5 6 4.37 16 16 0 92 45 93 46 1.42 9.12 4.46
5 Mike Foltynewicz Braves 8 7 3.97 23 23 0 134 59 142 46 1.27 9.56 3.11
5 Kyle Wright Braves 7 7 4.33 19 19 0 111 53 97 45 1.41 7.85 3.67
5 Max Fried Braves 4 3 3.58 8 23 0 60 24 63 28 1.36 9.51 4.25

Julio Teheran and Kevin Gausman – Pitchers who have flashed upside in previous seasons, but likely looking at a 4+ ERA, bad WHIP, and not much upside for Ks. They have their place in deeper leagues, but use your roster spot elsewhere in 10 or 12 team leagues.

Sean Newcomb – Newcomb is a guy that I seem to be drafting later in drafts after I’ve front loaded with a couple pitchers. It appeared he had turned a corner in the first half, but fell back to earth post All Star break. Newcomb has the stuff to give you the strikeout upside, but you should probably prepare to compensate for his WHIP.

5th pitcher – I have no idea who ends up with the 5th start job between Touki Toussaint, Kyle Wright, and Max Fried. Fried may get the job out of camp for service time reasons, but I believe he eventually ends up in the bullpen or back in the minors.

Touki is the top arm in the system with a ridiculous curve ball and a solid splitter that may become more than that, but there is some concern on the command despite showing some improvements in 2018.

Kyle Wright may not have the upside of Touki, but has 4 pitches that he can use at the major league level and has flown through the Braves system. I’m not going to be against him, but as with Touki (and most young pitchers), it’s about the control. Having a couple experienced catchers behind the plate should benefit all of the young pitchers.

Mike Foltynewicz – After 4 seasons of waiting, we finally got to see the Mike Foltynewicz we thought could exist given high velocity fastball, nasty slider, an improved sinker that induced more grounders, and the change and curve to keep hitters off balance. He’s expected back in late April to May. If you have the space on your IL, Folty could bring you top 30 value once he’s back.

 

Bullpen

Role Name Team W L ERA GS G SV IP ER SO BB WHIP K/9 BB/9
CL Arodys Vizcaino Braves 3 3 3.9 0 65 27 65 28 72 26 1.3 9.93 3.63
RP A.J. Minter Braves 4 3 3.31 0 65 5 65 24 78 25 1.2 10.86 3.45
RP Dan Winkler Braves 2 2 3.89 0 40 0 40 17 43 14 1.28 9.57 3.21
RP Jonny Venters Braves 3 2 3.73 0 50 0 50 21 47 23 1.41 8.52 4.13
RP Luiz Gohara Braves 1 1 3.93 2 2 0 9 4 9 3 1.29 9.16 3.37
RP Sam Freeman Braves 2 2 3.63 0 40 0 40 16 43 20 1.38 9.67 4.55

Arodys Vizcaino – Viz has pushed through 2 seasons of trade rumors and got 16 saves last season with a 2.11 ERA. He’s likely more of a mid to high 3s ERA guy, as Steamer projects, but with A.J. Minter having injury problems this spring, there’s nobody pushing him for the job, so, he should still enter the season as the close. Whether he can maintain the job all season… let’s just say that A.J. Minter has better stuff.

  1. Slappy Jack says:
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    I haven’t dug into it too much , but I faintly remember Gausman being much better once he got to ATL / NL.
    The blurb above doesn’t seem very optimistic. Was his success more mirage than not after the trade?

    • Chucky says:
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      Most pitchers get better once going AL to NL. ( Check our big Randy’s numbers with the move). The only one I can think of who works the other way was Pedro, however Pedro did win a Cy Young in the NL first. Cole is another going Pittsburgh to Houston. And that’s it! Heck even Greg Maddox turned down more money from the Yankees to sign with the Braves. Unabashedly admitting that he’d never have the same career in the AL as he would the NL. As Earl Weaver used to say…..” you play for one run at a time…..that’s all you’ll score”.

      • B_Don

        B_Don says:
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        As Chucky said, there is typically a boost when a pitcher comes over to the NL from the AL. He had a 2.63 ERA in the 2nd half, but with a 3.75 FIP and a .252 BABIP, so, let’s say I’m skeptical.

        Plus, it came with a sub 20% K rate, which has been on the decline for 3 years now and dropped when he came to the NL. His biggest problem has always been keeping the ball in the yard, and while ATL is be a better pitcher’s park than Baltimore, it’s custom built for lefty power.

  2. Fredo says:
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    Sam Freeman cut on Friday

    • B_Don

      B_Don says:
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      Thanks Fredo. In my defense, the article was submitted on Wednesday. At least for me, it’s more about showing guys that I thought were interesting this season more so than who is on the opening day roster. It may not be for the Braves, but Sam had a solid 2017 and dealt with shoulder inflammation last season. He still bumped his K rate in 2018 and lefties can be worth monitoring for holds leagues.

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