Saturday, April 9, 2016

2016 Pre-Season Profile: Atlanta Braves

The season may be a week in, but it's not too late to finish up some predictions.  Let's look at the Atlanta Braves!

Last Season
My 2015 Prediction: 3rd in NL East
2015 Result: 67-95, 4th in NL East
The Braves started a true rebuild process in 2015, as the proud dynasty of the 90's and 00's finally came to a true end.  I picked them to finish 3rd because the Braves always seem to find a way to win their share of games.  2015 is the year this stopped.  The Braves were pretty bad.  The only question was had they reached rock bottom yet.

2016 Additions / Subtractions
If anyone wasn't fully convinced the Braves had started to rebuild, this offseason was the clincher.  For all those other teams I have been criticizing in these articles, this is what a rebuild is supposed to look like.  They traded Shelby Miller, the key piece in the Jason Heyward trade the offseason before, to the Diamondbacks.  Then they traded their slick-gloved shortstop Andrelton Simmons to the Angels.  Cameron Maybin left and went to the Tigers as well.  All these trades brought back prospects, the crown jewel being Dansby Swanson, the 2015 number one overall pick by the Diamondbacks.  Ender Inciarte and Erik Aybar were the only major league players acquired through all these trades.  However, this did take the Braves' farm system from one of the worst in the league to one of the best.

Most Important Hitter
Freddie Freeman
With the way the Braves were selling, everyone was wondering if Freddie Freeman would be heading out as well.  Would he be another piece to bring back prospects, or the cornerstone this new team would be build around.  When the 26 year old first baseman was still on the roster in Spring Training, it appears the answer is the latter.  If Freeman truly is the face of this franchise moving forward, he can't get frustrated by the rebuild.  He has to remain the star he is while leading this team into its next great era to come.

Most Important Pitcher
Julio Teheran
Julio Teheran has been touted as the future ace of the Braves for several seasons.  He made the All Star Team in 2014, but followed it up with an average year in 2015.  If he truly is going to be the anchor of this staff moving forward, he has to be better than he was last year.

Player to Watch
Aaron Blair
In an age where top prospects are more valuable than gold, the Diamondbacks gave up a lot for Shelby Miller.  Not only did they trade Swanson to the Braves (who is still a year or so away), but they also gave them Aaron Blair.  Blair is a big, strong righty that will most likely be in the Braves' rotation by the end of the year.  The Braves are hoping some of their new prospects like Blair and Swanson will be mainstays on the Braves roster for the next decade.

2016 Prediction
4th in NL East
Was 2015 rock bottom for the Braves?  I would say no.  2016 will be rock bottom for the Braves as they close down Turner Field.  The only thing keeping them out of the cellar is the Phillies, but these will be the two worst teams in baseball this year.  2017 looks more promising as some of these prospects will start to find their way to the big leagues by the end of this season.  They are really trying the Houston Astros' model of rebuilding.  The goal is to win the World Series in five years.  It seems to have worked in Houston.  Only time will tell if it will work in Atlanta.

Fearless Prediction
The Atlanta Braves will lead the league this year in big league debuts.
This isn't much of a stretch.  However, with as bad as they are and as good as their farm system now is, look for a rotation of players to come up and get a taste of the big leagues for the first time this year.  Inciarte, Aybar, and maybe even Nick Markakis will be shipped off by the end of the year.  Two-thirds of their starting lineup on game 162 I will predict was not on their 25 man roster on Opening Day.

No comments:

Post a Comment