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Could the Braves be a Cinderella team in 2018?

Atlanta is among four teams that writer Dan Szymborski labels as stealth contenders

Philadelphia Phillies v Atlanta Braves Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images

Could the Atlanta Braves surprise everyone in 2018? That is the question that’s Dan Szymborski asks as he surveys the league in search of a team that can be the equivalent of the 2017 Minnesota Twins who made the leap from rebuilding to a wild card team.

Szymborski settles on four teams, the Philadelphia Phillies, Cincinnati Reds, Baltimore Orioles and the Atlanta Braves as those that could surprise in 2018.

On the Braves, Szymborski points out a developing young core along with impact prospects like Ronald Acuna advancing towards the majors.

Will that be 2018? Maybe, maybe not, but the pieces are there. It would be a major surprise if Dansby Swanson didn't crush his 2017 performance. ZiPS projects 3.0-plus WAR in a full season of Ozzie Albies and another 2.0-plus from rookie outfielder Ronald Acuna (which is an amazing projection for the a 20-year-old). ZiPS also sees pitchers such as Kolby Allard and Luiz Gohara (among many others) with a high probability of success very quickly.

He goes on to mention the veteran additions of Brandon McCarthy and Scott Kazmir who, if everything broke right, could stabilize a young rotation.

While the Braves contending in 2018 is probably unlikely Szymborski does raise a good point that many of the pieces are already in place which could bode well for 2019

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