The Atlanta Braves have spent most of the offseason shoring up their bullpen and searching for help in the rotation. They reportedly flirted with Aaron Nola early on, but haven’t made a significant splash unless you consider the acquisition of outfielder Jarred Kelenic as one. What sometimes gets lost is that the Braves have a very talented roster already and one that is coming off of an historically great season. They have roster concerns like every team, but Alex Anthopoulos’ “splash” was locking up this core over the last six seasons.
Dan Szymborski’s annual ZiPS projections at FanGraphs are a reminder of that. The 2024 version was released Thursday and Atlanta is again projected to be among the best teams in baseball. I will leave you to pick through the details, but I did want to highlight Szymborski’s thoughts on what ZiPS projects for reigning NL MVP Ronald Acuña Jr.
ZiPS puts a 50/50 season in reach for Acuña, and his projected WAR is more than a win better than anyone else in baseball. Eight of his top 10 comps ought to be Hall of Famers (Betts is still playing), and ZiPS now has him finishing with a mean career projection in excess of 650 homers, with nearly 600 stolen bases and more than 3,000 hits. And he’s locked up for the next five years, so there’s no chance of him taking a mystery plane ride to a sushi restaurant in Toronto.
ZiPS has Acuña projected for 7.3 WAR, which as he mentions is a win more than anyone else. Those career projections are as eye popping as the numbers he put up during his MVP campaign.
Additionally, Szymborski points out that you could remove Acuña altogether and the Braves would still look like one of the top teams in the majors. Let that sink in when you complain that the Braves haven’t done much this offseason.