2011 Atlanta Braves Predictions and Baseball Futures Odds
by Robert Ferringo - 3/2/2011
For the first time in what feels like about 150 years, the Atlanta Braves will open the season without Bobby Cox on the bench. One of the all-time great managers has called it a career and now leaves Atlanta under the watchful eye of former protégé and new coach Freddi Gonzalez.
The Braves will have to adjust to life without Cox this year. And after last year’s emotional run to the postseason they could be primed for a little bit of a letdown. On top of that they will have to adjust to the reality that everyone in their division has made significant upgrades and that this should be the most competitive division in the National League.
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Here is Doc’s Sports 2011 Atlanta Braves predictions and baseball futures odds:
2010 Record: 91-81
2011 Wins Over/Under: 88.5
Odds To Win 2011 NL East: 5/1
Odds To Win 2011 NL Pennant: 10/1
2011 Atlanta Braves Odds To Win the World Series: 18/1
Pitching: Just like the glory days of the 90’s, the backbone of the Braves is their starting pitching. Tim Hudson remains one of the most underrated aces in all of baseball and Derek Lowe is right behind him on the underappreciated scale. All those two do is log innings, win games, and perform their best when the competition is the toughest and the pressure is greatest. Behind them is last year’s hard-luck starter, Tommy Hansen. He went just 10-11 despite 173 strikeouts and a 3.33 ERA. The righty is a power arm and is entering his prime. The X-factor for the rotation Jair Jurrjens. He was able to avoid the Verducci Effect in 2009, but all of the innings caught up to him last year and led to a miserable season. If he can find his 2008 (3.68 ERA) or 2009 (2.60 ERA) form then this four-man group can compete with anyone. The bullpen is slowly become a strength after two decades of failure in the late innings. Billy Wagner’s retirement leaves this team without a closer. But young guns Craig Kimbrel and Jonny Venters are talented and waiting in the wings. Even if one of them flame out there are other proven commodities (Pete Moylan, Scott Linebrink, George Sherrill) to back them up. Top to bottom this is a very good staff.
Hitting: This team finished in the middle of the pack, statistically, in offense last year. But I don’t think the numbers really tell the tale of how much this club struggled to score last year. They managed more than five runs in just four of their last 35 games. During that same stretch they were held to two runs or fewer 15 times. The same thing that held them back last year is going to kill them this year: they have one of the weakest hitting corner infields in baseball and they are still hoping that an obviously over-the-hill Chipper Jones can anchor the middle of the order when he obviously can’t. Atlanta added mini-slugger Dan Uggla in the offseason. But they also lost one of their most reliable bats, Omar Infante, in the process. Brian McCann is still a stud but the Braves still have a shaky outfield and no consistent, reliable power. This team desperately needs Jason Heyward to step up and perform like the superstar that everyone seemingly has already crowned him to be. The guy hit .277 with 18 home runs and 72 RBI. Those are solid numbers for a rookie. He needs to up those numbers to about .310-28-100 this year if this team wants to compete.
Key Stat: Atlanta had 25 wins in its last at-bat in 2010, which was the most in the Majors. That also helped them post a remarkable 56-25 record at home, which was also tops in the Majors.
Player to Watch: Jair Jurrjens, P. In 2008 Jurrjens had an excellent rookie season (3.68 ERA, 13 wins and 139 strikeouts). Then in 2009 he became a flat-out stud, posting a 2.60 ERA with 152 strikeouts and 14 wins. But last year was an injury-plagued session that saw him regress considerably. Jurrjens is apparently healthy and ready for a bounce back. If he reverts to his 2009 form he could become one of the best No. 4 starters in the league.
2011 Atlanta Braves Predictions: The Phillies have clearly drawn a line in the sand in the N.L. East. This year we find out if the Braves are willing to follow or if they are going to slink back to the second tier. I think Atlanta will be competitive and will be in the mix. But until they get some serious threats at the corner infield spots and their outfield, I don’t see them being able to keep up with the Phillies. However, if the pitching stays healthy and if they can add a stick or two then this team isn’t as far off the Phils as it may seem.
2011 O/U Wins Prediction: ‘Under’ 88.5. Chipper is going to get hurt. When that happens this team is going to struggle to score runs yet again. I also don’t see any way that Atlanta is going to win nearly 60 home games. And since they are perfectly mediocre on the road any natural regression to their home mark – say a still-very-good 49-32 – means a back slide. Last season they had the extra motivation of trying to “Win One For Bobby Cox!” They don’t have that now and it absolutely makes a difference. To beat this wins number they would have to win about 90 games. They don’t have that type of lineup.
Robert Ferringo is a professional sports handicapper for Doc’s Sports. He is considered one of the top MLB cappers in the country and has turned a profit in four of the last five years on the diamond with his baseball picks. He closed 2010 with $6,000 in earnings over the last four months and is looking forward to a great upcoming season against the MLB odds. Click Here for more information on his MLB picks.
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