Cleat Geeks

Bravos Buzz

Chicks Dig the Long Ball

homerunballThe Braves haven’t been a home run hitting team since the 2013 season. That year, they lead the National League with 181 homers in route to winning a division title. In 2014, they took a big step back in home runs, tallying only 123 (good enough for 22nd in the Majors). Last year they finished last in Major League Baseball in the home run department, mustering only 100.

With that being said, a team doesn’t need to lead the league in home runs to win games (Kansas City won the World Series last season despite being 24th in the league in HR’s), but there is no doubt that fans love to see home runs. Hearing the bat CRACK and then watching the ball soar over the outfield wall — it’s one of the most exciting spectacles that the sport has to offer. We all know that chicks dig the long ball. So, who will chicks dig in ALT this upcoming season?

Unfortunately for lovers of the long ball, the 2016 Braves are not really built for power. By the looks of how the 25-man roster is shaping up, they’ll be relying mostly on small-ball yet again this year.

However, that doesn’t mean we can’t look forward to the Braves cranking a few out of the park in their last season at Turner Field, and it doesn’t mean that we can’t make projections as to who may lead the team in home runs…

 

The Leader

freddieIn order to tell where the club is heading, it’s best to look at where they’ve been. Freddie Freeman led the Bravos in home runs last year with 18 — despite only playing in 73% of the team’s games. Freeman will undoubtedly lead the team in HR’s again in 2016, assuming that he stays healthy. He should be able to go yard at least 25 to 30 times. Granted, he has never hit more than 23 homers in a season, but he is now 26 years old with yet another year of MLB experience under his belt. He is only getting better as player and stronger as a hitter, so there is no reason not to believe that he will reach a career high in HR’s this upcoming season. Expect Freeman to make some serious noise as the Brave’s only true power hitter.

 

Other Contributors

Freeman will certainly be doing the majority of the heavy lifting in terms of home run hitting for the Bravos, but he’s not the only player on the team capable of posting double-digit HR’s this season. There are a couple of other guys in the clubhouse who can also send a few over the fence form time to time.

_MG_4758Kelly Johnson is one of those guys. Johnson will begin his third stint with the Braves this season after signing a one-year deal on January 8th. It’s difficult to project how many homers he’ll record this year because it’s difficult to project how often he’ll be in the lineup. He’s the pure definition of a ‘utility player’ — this guy literally plays every position on the field with the exception of pitcher, catcher, and center field. His utility player status puts him at second or third on the depth chart at multiple positions, but the Braves will find ways to inject him into the lineup throughout the season when they need a spark on offence. They aren’t paying him two million dollars to sit on the bench and collect dust. Johnson has hit 145 HR’s in his career, which proves that he has the ability when called upon. It’s safe to say that he’ll get somewhere around 350 at bats, which should net him around 15 home runs on the year.

Nick-Swisher-Atlanta-BravesAnother vet that the Braves will look to when they need some power is Nick Swisher. Swisher’s best years are behind him as a baseball player (he’s now 35 years old), but he can still contribute when needed. No, he’s not going to hit 35 home runs like he did back in 2006, or even 29 like he did in 2010, but he’s definitely still capable of sending a few to the stands in 2016. He won’t be in the starting lineup most weeks, but he’ll be a solid substitute / pinch hitter this season. If Swisher gets 300 at bats or more this year, look for 10 or more home runs from him.

batballThe Braves will score way more runs with singles and doubles than they will with homers this year, but that won’t stop me from sitting in the outfield seats at Turner Field hoping to catch a ball hit by the home team.

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