Could the Atlanta Braves surprise everyone in 2018? That is the question that ESPN.com’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.
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