We're currently smack-dab in the middle of January, which means that most of you who were foolish enough to follow professional football this year (and sincere condolences to all of you Bengals and Vikings fans out there. Yikes.) are slowly coming back into the loving and warming embrace of baseball. We've still got a month to go before pitchers and catchers report to camp, but it's never too early to look at projections for the upcoming season, and that's exactly what the good folks at Fangraphs have done.
Throughout the offseason, Fangraphs has had their Steamer Projections up on their website, and while Steamer isn't an exact science -- projections in general are never really super exact, but it's good to use when it comes to thinking about baseline expectations for the upcoming season -- they've done their best to come up with decent predictions. As far as our beloved Atlanta Braves are concerned, things are, as expected, looking bleak.
(Credit to fangraphs for the image. Also, click to go to the projected standings page)
Steamer projects the Braves to be the second-worst team in all of baseball, and actually projects them to finish 67-95 for the second consecutive season. This is mostly due to the fact that Steamer is projecting that the Braves will finish the season with a team WAR of 19.7. For comparison's sake, Steamer projects the Cubs to lead all of baseball with 52.4 WAR, which should tell you just how far off the pace Steamer projects the Braves to be in 2016.
A look at the Braves' depth chart page is even murkier. Naturally, Freddie Freeman is projected to be the Braves best player with 4.0 WAR, and after that, the dropoff is steep. Julio Teheran is projected to be the best pitcher with 1.8 WAR, then Erick Aybar, Ender Inciarte, Adonis Garcia, and A.J. Pierzynski round out the players who are projected to finish the season with at least 1.0 WAR.
Again, Steamer predictions aren't meant to be taken as hard, concrete truth. Baseball's a weird game, and there's always a chance to see players out-perform their projections, just like there's always a possibility of seeing players under-perform. We're dealing with human beings here, since technology hasn't advanced to the point where we can program robots to play the game at supreme levels of optimization. However, the projections are in line with what we're all thinking: The Braves' final season at Turner Field will be a long one, but there's always a bright side: If the kids on the farm develop like we figure they will, then the future success could make the present-day pain worth it.