2016 Recap: 68-93, Last in the NL East. The rebuilding Braves did what most rebuilding teams do, lose a lot of baseball games. The future is bright in Atlanta as they will move into their new stadium this year and have several young players on the big league team as well as in the minors to be excited about. Atlanta also has more veterans than your average rebuilding team and could make a sneaky run at the Wild Card this season. The Braves will definitely be a team to watch in 2017.
Significant Additions: 2B Brandon Phillips, LHP Jaime Garcia, RHP Bartolo Colon, RHP RA Dickey, C Kurt Suzuki, INF/OF Sean Rodriguez, INF Micah Johnson
Significant Subtractions: OF Mallex Smith, LHP Eric O’Flaherty
Projected Lineup and Breakdown:
- CF Ender Inciarte
- SS Dansby Swanson
- 1B Freddie Freeman
- LF Matt Kemp
- RF Nick Markakis
- 2B Brandon Phillips
- 3B Adonis Garcia
- C Tyler Flowers
The Braves were maybe the worst offense in the N.L. last season, finishing second to last in runs per game and dead last in home runs. The good news is they will almost definitely be better than their 2016 output with the addition of veteran Brandon Phillips (.290 or better two straight seasons) to full seasons from Matt Kemp (.855 OPS with ATL last season) and young phenom Dansby Swanson, the Braves should no longer be easy night for opposing starters. Swanson showed the potential of a future All Star in 38 games with Atlanta last season hitting .302 and holding his own in the field. A rebound season from Ender Inciarte is also very possible as the 23 year old still managed to hit .291 despite battling injuries all season.
Projected rotation, Bullpen, and Breakdown:
- RHP Julio Teheran
- RHP Bartolo Colon
- LHP Jaime Garcia
- RHP RA Dickey
- RHP Mike Foltynewicz
- RHP Jim Johnson – Closer
- RHP Arodys Vizcaino
- RHP Mauricio Cabrera
- LHP Ian Krol
- RHP Jose Ramirez
The Braves group of pitching prospects led by Sean Newcomb are all at least a year away and instead of scrapping the bottom of the barrel for guys to just make one start (16 different starters used in 2016), the Braves are hoping veteran acquisitions Bartolo Colon, Jaime Garcia, and RA Dickey will eat innings and provide stability while the Braves wait for their minor leagues to be ready. The staff will continue to be lead by two time All Star Julio Teheran who rebounded nicely from a down 2015 to post a 3.21 ERA with a career best 1.053 WHIP. Teheran will be just 26 this year and a career best walk rate (2.0 BB/9) is a sign we still may not have seen the best from him. The bullpen will be lead by veteran Jim Johnson who over the second half of last showed his old Baltimore form that saw him save 101 games in a two year span. In front of Johnson are young fireballers Arodys Vizcaino and Mauricio Cabrera. Both have big time swing and miss stuff that have Braves fans thinking of a potential 1-2 duo to lead this pen for years to come.
Stud: 1B Freddie Freeman. Freeman has been one of the most consistent first baseman during his big league career, but he has always left fantasy owners wanting more in terms of his power production. Well Freeman finally delivered last season hitting a career high 34 home runs and delivering a .968 OPS. Freeman is currently going as a top 30 pick in drafts and is well worth that draft price with his new found power stroke.
Sleeper: SP Mike Foltynewicz. The 25 year old right hander was finally given a chance to stay in the rotation over the second half of 2016 and rewarded the Braves by finally getting his elite stuff under control and not walking everyone that came into the batters box. Folty struck out 24% of the batters he faced over the final month of the season giving fantasy owners a taste of what might be on the horizon in 2017. Currently going outside the top 300 players, Folty represents a real bargain as he could end up being an elite level starter as soon as this season.
Bust: SS Dansby Swanson. I love Swanson’s future and I like a lot of what he has to offer right now, but as is usually the case with the shiny new toy for fantasy owner Swanson is just going too high for my liking. Pick 186 isn’t as egregious as it could be, but you’re still counting on Swanson to produce real numbers in his first full season when even the best case scenario for Swanson as a rookie would be around .290 with double digit homers and steals. With the being the best case scenario for the rookie, I’m passing in all re draft leagues.
2017 Record Prediction: The Braves have a nice blend of veteran and young position players that should keep them in ball games all year. The placeholders they have in their rotation while they wait for the next group of young Braves starters will keep them just off the pace in the NL Wild Card. This might be the last year the Braves are under .500 for along time. 77-85. Third in the NL East.
Check out our other 2017 team previews here.
Photo Credit: Scout.com
Statistics are courtesy of Baseball reference and Fangraphs
Projected rosters are courtesy of rosterresource.com and accurate as of 3/20
Fantasy ADP data courtesy of STATS.com and The NFBC