Cleat Geeks

NL East 4th Place Prediction-Atlanta Braves

 

braves2It all started in November 2013 when the Atlanta Braves announced the hiring of John Hart. The former GM of the Indians and Rangers became the Senior Advisor of Baseball Operations for the Braves. Atlanta was a month removed from an NL East clinching season which ended in a loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers in the NLDS. The Braves had a legit playoff team despite glaring weaknesses such as high strikeouts from their hitters. Just a second after fans felt optimistic about John Hart taking over the front office, they experienced heartbreak as the Braves decided to begin trading many of their star players and they continued doing so as recent as 2015.

 

hartfrontofficeJohn Hart is known for having a hand in building a competitive Texas Rangers team. He is known even more for being the architect of the Cleveland Indians super team of the mid to late 90s. Here we are entering the Braves’ third season under their new regime and there is no belief that they will be much better than their past two seasons in which they have gone 79-83 and 67-95 respectively. The fans have been confused about what exactly the Braves are trying to do. Yes, they are in a rebuild phase right now (along with five other teams in the National League) but have seemed to tease their fans with acquiring and holding on to veteran players who can be good assets on contending teams. These players include Jason Grilli, Nick Markakis, Jim Johnson and A.J. Pierzynski. They acquired Erick Aybar and Ender Enciarte this off-season. Enciarte, a good multi-tool player, came from Arizona in the famous Shelby Miller trade. More on that later. The biggest name on their team is the face of the franchise and two-time all star Freddie Freeman.

 

Braves fans held their breath this winter hoping that Freeman would not be the next big chip to be moved after seeing Jason Heyward, Evan Gattis, Justin Upton and Craig Kimbrel get traded within the last year and a half. “Anyone but Freeman!” fans have shouted. However, it seems like he is staying put. The Braves still need to put fans in the seats at Suntrust Park, their new ballpark, which opens next season. It’s not enough to attract fans with just the new stadium over a full MLB season. Apparently, they want to build a young and competitive team around Freddie Freeman.

turner   suntrust

The Braves have confidence in their plans and in their newly acquired prospects. Props to the Diamondbacks for acquiring a terrific arm like Shelby Miller to slide in behind ace Zack Greinke but the Braves were able to get a big haul in return. That haul includes the number one overall pick from the 2015 draft: shortstop Dansby Swanson. Maybe all of the criticism from fans and writers will be silenced sooner than we think. I must give credit to them for having a plan and putting it into action. While it will be sad to see an empty Turner Field one more time, this time coming in its final season of hosting Braves baseball, there is a chance the losing and suffering won’t continue too long after this season.markakis

 

*2016 Projected Lineup

RF Nick Markakis  .290/.359/.383

SS Erick Aybar  .274/.310/.355

LF Ender Enciarte  .290/.328/.378

1B Freddie Freeman  .288/.377/.469

3B Hector Olivera  .241/.286/.340

2B Jace Peterson  .238/.313/.319freemanglove

C Tyler Flowers  .231/.282/.373

CF Michael Bourn  .246/.309/.319

*2015 BA/OBP/SLG

2016 Projected Rotation

Julio Teheran

Mike Foltynewiczteheran

Manny Banuelos

Matt Wisler

Bud Norris

 

2016 Projected Bullpen

Jason Grilligrillcheese

Jim Johnson

Arodys Vizcaino

Andrew McKirahan

Williams Perez

Kyle Kendrick

hartfrediFinal Word: There is hope for the Atlanta Braves. Pretty much, no baseball writer or analyst believes that they haven’t acquired good young talent that will help the ball club long term. Some of the Braves’ prospects may be ready to shine in 2017- which will be the inaugural year of their new Suntrust Park. Whether fans will enjoy the first year in their new digs watching a competitive team remains to be seen. For now, this is a team that will finish no better than 4th place in the NL East this year. Hey, at least they get to play the even lowlier Philadelphia Phillies 18 times this year.

 

One Comment

  1. Josh Watford

    January 31, 2016 at 1:11 am

    Good stuff! All true.

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