Spring training is in the books and we are just one day away from Opening Day. That is also the time for season predictions and we do our best below to forecast what 2018 will hold for the Atlanta Braves. Let us know your predictions in the comments below.
What will the Braves’ final record be in 2018?
Ivan: 78-84; talent level might be a bit higher than that right now, but some pieces might leave at the deadline.
Scott: 78-84; I believe in Ozzie Albies and Ronald Acuña. I think Freddie Freeman will be in the MVP conversation. I think Folty takes a step forward, too. But at the end of the day there are too many holes at crucial positions to break .500.
Brad: 77-85; This is the median outcome and I do think there is room for a higher ceiling. Weirdly, this is a team with more variance than most, especially considering how little turnover there has been. It’s just tough to see everything going right and that’s how we land here.
Doc: 78-84, but the real marker of a successful season will come in the form of prospect growth rather an a win total. There will be considerable steps forward from last season, but still some of the same maddening inconsistencies we’ve seen over the last few seasons.
Sparhawk: 80-82; I’m a bit more optimistic. I think the hitting will be fine once Acuña gets called up, but a lot will depend on JT, Newk and Folty.
Kyle: 71-91; I’ve told people I feel like this season will largely be the equivalent of what 1990 was to this franchise. This is the final year to get their bearings about everything and really begin to figure out which of the guys can become cornerstones worth building around.
Sam: 79-83; This outlook is pretty much middle of the road for this team and they’re a really hard group to project. With all the youth on the team there is a possibility that they win over 80 games, but then again there’s the possibility that they lose 90 games again. I wouldn’t put too much stock into this season’s record though as next season in 2019 has been where the Braves have repeatedly stated they are committing to a push in playoff contention.
Kris: 78-84: I think the product improves as the season progresses but ultimately they dig themselves too big of a hole early to finish .500.
Eric: 81-81; Consider me the optimist of the group. I think the rotation will be improved if imperfect for 2018 as will the bullpen and the top half of the lineup will be as productive as any in baseball. The team still has holes which prevent me from going higher and there is definitely some risk with this many young players, but .500 seems reasonable to me.
Demetrius: 79-83: I could definitely see this team breaking .500 if they can end up being the “best of the rest” in the NL East but at the same time, there are still too many significant holes for me to feel confident in predicting them to eclipse that barrier. They’re closer now than they have been at any point in the rebuild and it’s definitely looking like 2019 is absolutely going to be the year where they make a serious run at returning to baseball relevancy. With that being said, I’m definitely looking forward to seeing what this team has to offer for this season.
Position Player MVP?
Ivan: Freddie Freeman. Despite other dynamic talent in the lineup, it’s hard to overcome Freeman’s sheer hitting prowess.
Scott: Freddie is the obvious answer. He was on an MVP pace last spring before the wrist injury and looks fully recovered.
Brad: There’s only one answer here and we all know who it is. Finding the No. 2 guy is more challenging but Freeman is a runaway winner.
Doc: Everybody’s going to say Freddie, as they should...but Ozzie Albies could give him a run for his money.
Sparhawk: Freeman, but I feel Albies could be nipping at his heels.
Kyle: The easy, obvious answer is Freddie Freeman. However, if Ronald Acuna is as ready for the bigs as he appears, he might be close to this status quickly.
Sam: It may just be wishful thinking, but Ronald Acuña could end up giving Freddie Freeman a run for his money in this spot. The Braves are building a nice core of Albies, Freeman and Acuña and I wouldn’t be surprised to see any of those three guys at the top role on this team. Some high level talent evaluators even believe Acuña could be in the race for NL MVP in his first season which is insane to think about.
Kris: You could give this to Freddie Freeman every season but I’m going with Ozzie Albies who builds off a strong rookie season and makes his first appearance in the All-Star Game.
Eric: Freddie Freeman is the safe answer, but I am going to say Ronald Acuna. His presence in the lineup should allow Ozzie and Freeman to be more productive and defensively he will be a big boon for a stable of young pitchers. Plus, you guys know me...if given the chance, I’m gonna pick the prospect option.
Demetrius: It’s going to be Freddie Freeman and if he can avoid a random fastball to the wrist this season, then the numbers are going to be insane. He was on pace for a league MVP-caliber season last year so if he can stay healthy then he’s going to be in that conversation this season. Of course, if Ozzie Albies or even Ronald Acuña can approach those levels in 2018 then we’ll be in for a fun time this year but for now, Freddie Freeman is the obvious pick here.
Ivan: Sean Newcomb. Gohara may have the upper edge on an inning-by-inning basis, but his health and service time status is less certain. I expect Newcomb to be in there every five days, with his innings count affected mostly by his own inefficiency.
Scott: I wanted to say Luiz Gohara even with the injury, but I worry about when he’ll get back in the rotation. I’ll say Mike Foltynewicz takes a step forward and leads the staff in starts, wins and WAR.
Brad: I’m back on the Julio Teheran bandwagon. That isn’t to say that I’m predicting a full-fledged return to where he once was but he’s the safest guy to project as the best pitcher. It’s likely that someone exceeds him but I have no idea who it is.
Doc: Mike Foltynewicz has the stuff to be an elite starter, and this will be the year he takes the next step. He’ll be the #1 starter in the rotation by the end of this season.
Sparhawk: Folty. I still really like Folty; I called for his breakout last year and it didn’t happen. I’ve read that he’s quieted his mechanics and outside his past game, he was looking real good. I think he takes the next step.
Kyle: Brad and I agree on something. Julio Teheran is going to be the steady force in the rotation, because we all know that Folty, Newcomb and the other young guys like Gohara will have severe ups and downs throughout the year.
Sam: Luiz Gohara, although possessing a small sample size of MLB action, became the top left handed starter in average fastball velocity last season. If he is not injured for a long period of time I could see Gohara running away with the team lead in pitching WAR. He’s young and has a power combo fastball/slider that was downright filthy at the end of 2017, and most importantly, Gohara can limit home-runs allowed as the rest of the Braves rotation has struggled in that aspect.
Kris: I think that Julio Teheran bounces back enough that there are a number of trade rumors surrounding him at the deadline.
Eric: I think the answer is Teheran, but it is far from the clear choice. Gohara has a real shot at this if he can get healthy and into form quickly.
Demetrius: Oh man, I want to do the safe thing and pick Teheran but at this point, I can’t even say that Teheran is a safe pick because it’s so hard to really figure out what you’re going to get from him. Of course, we’re all hoping that we get the solid front-end starter that we’ve seen for years instead of the guy who went to Cobb County and got knocked around but it’s up in the air. Meanwhile, even with the injuries, you’ve got a nice and shiny Luiz Gohara just waiting in the wings and the projection models seemed to love the taste that they got from him last season and I know I definitely enjoyed watching him last year. So yeah, I’m on the Gohara hype train.
Ivan: Rio Ruiz figures out his weird launch angle issues and ends up with a decent (but not great) season.
Scott: Ender Inciarte has his best year yet and approaches a 5-WAR season.
Brad: Dansby Swanson posts a .350 OBP, calms any defensive concerns and posts a 2.5-3.0 fWAR season.
Doc: Sean Newcomb finally figures out his control issues and forms a ridiculous 1-2 punch with Folty.
Sparhawk: Brandon McCarthy. I think he stays healthy and pitches very well, ultimately getting the Braves a pretty decent prospect when he’s traded.
Kyle: Ronald Acuna will arrive in mid-April and never think about playing another minor league game.
Sam: I have been high on Dansby Swanson this spring and I hope he figures something out at the ML level, but for the biggest surprise I’m going with A.J. Minter. I think Minter will take the closer role by the reigns and post a sub 2.00 ERA season with a massive quantity of strikeouts. He’s got next level pitches and location.
Kris: Dansby Swanson recovers from last season’s struggles and erases any doubts about him being the team’s shortstop going forward.
Eric: AJ Minter ends up as a top 25 reliever in baseball and Cristian Pache ends up as a top 25 prospect in baseball by season’s end.
Demetrius: Our problems at 3B are solved by the end of the season when Austin Riley rides a rocket ship from the farm to the bigs and is hitting light-tower shots around SunTrust Park once the latter stages of the season rolls around.
Ivan: An injured and inconsistent Luiz Gohara doesn’t have much of an impact on the Braves in 2018 despite the talent being there.
Scott: I wasn’t sold on the bullpen this time last year and I’m not sold on it this year, either. I’m also not convinced Snitker will properly utilize his righty/lefty specialists.
Brad: I said this last year and was comically wrong but the catcher position is due for a drop-off. Even if this new, improved Tyler Flowers is real, I think we can expect Kurt Suzuki to regress with vigor.
Doc: Due to injuries, Luiz Gohara will only wind up pitching 47.2 innings this season.
Sparhawk: Can I say Snit? No? Ok, then Sean Newcomb. I think the walks will plague him again this season and everyone will bring up how the Simmons trade was turrible.
Kyle: Luiz Gohara, but since he’s already been named, I’ll offer up Brandon McCarthy. He hasn’t started a full season’s worth of games since 2014 and isn’t getting any younger.
Sam: I hope I’m wrong here, but I’m not convinced Johan Camargo can re-produce his decent work at the plate from 2017. While his defense may still be a plus, his offense could end up pushing him out of the everyday role at third and give Rio Ruiz an opportunity to show off an improved swing that gets more lift. Prediction for Camargo: .235/.300/.395.
Kris: Johan Camargo can’t replicate his offensive success from 2017 and proves not to be the answer at third base.
Eric: I have not seen anything so far to make me think that the Braves’ current catching duo will be able to come close to sustaining their production from last year, so I’ll place my bet there.
Demetrius: I’m with Eric on this one. There is absolutely no way that Kurt Suzuki is going to keep up his power stroke from last season so while they’ll still be decent, we’re going to hear a lot of “What happened to our catchers?” this year because they’re not combining to be one of the top catching duos in the game.
NL East Standings?
Scott: Nationals, Mets, Phillies, Braves, Marlins
Brad: Nats, Mets, Braves, Phillies, Marlins (and Miami wins less than 60)
Doc: Nats, Mets, Braves / Phillies tied for third, Miami
Sparhawk: Nats, Phillies, Mets, Braves, Marlins
Kyle: Nats, Mets, Braves, Phillies, Marlins (epically horrible)
Sam: Nationals, Mets (Wild Card 2), Phillies, Braves, Marlins(~25 wins less than the Braves)
Kris: Nationals, Mets, Phillies, Braves, Marlins
Eric: Nationals, Braves, Phillies, Mets, and Marlins in the cellar with the worst record in baseball
Demetrius: Nationals, Mets, Phillies, Braves, Marlins. I guess since we’re all harping on the Marlins, yeah they’re gonna be disgustingly bad. With that being said, if the Braves finish well below .500 it’ll be because their bad luck against truly awful teams will spring up once again.