2018 Atlanta Braves Expert Predictions and Odds to Win the World Series
I liked the MLB when the Atlanta Braves were a relevant franchise who competed amongst the upper echelon of the league's elite teams for the World Series title. The glory days saw legends like Chipper Jones, Greg Maddux, John Smoltz, Tom Glavine and Andruw Jones all suit up for the Braves and play their part in one of the longest streaks in pro sports history. From 1991-2005 the Atlanta Braves won 15 consecutive division titles. At that time, it was the most consecutive division titles in any sport. However, since that run ended the outlook as been bleak. One division title, three playoff series losses and several fourth- and fifth-place finishes.
Maybe this will be the year the Braves stun the baseball world and become one of the best teams in baseball, or maybe the Braves will just suck again. My money is on the latter option.
The Braves open the regular season with a six-game homestand commencing on March 29 versus the Philadelphia Phillies and then the Washington Nationals. From there, the Braves hit the road for nine games, with three-game sets against the Colorado Rockies, the Nationals and the Chicago Cubs. The Braves are expected to stink once again this year. They are +15000 to win the World Series, +7500 to win the NL, and +2000 to win the NL East. The Braves season win total is currently 74.5 (-115).
All odds are courtesy of Bovada.
Braves 2018 Projected Lineup
The Braves' batting order will feature just one or two players who casual fans will recognize and a slew of names that will make fans visit Google or Wikipedia multiple times per game.
This year's lineup should look something like this:
1. Ender Inciarte
2. Ozzie Albies
3. Freddie Freeman
4. Tyler Flowers
5. Nick Markakis
6. Ronald Acuna
7. Johan Camargo
8. Dansby Swanson
9. Pitchers Spot
As you can see, this lineup is reflected in the futures odds. The only "big-name" player is Freddie Freeman, and he is coming off a mediocre campaign where he posted a .307 average with 28 home runs and 71 RBIs.
Behind him, Tyler Flowers and Nick Markakis combined to hit 20 home runs and drive in 125 runs over the course of last season. These two players aren't exactly the kind of protection teams look for behind their best hitter, but it will have to do for now.
Further down the lineup, you'll find Ronald Acuna, Johan Camargo and Dansby Swanson. Swanson is the most recognizable name out of this trio, but he has failed to live up to the hype of the first overall draft pick. Swanson hit six homers last year while driving in 51 and hitting well below the Mendoza line at .232. Camargo made his debut last year and hit .299 while driving in 27 and hitting eight homers. Acuna will be making his major league debut this year, and he is currently rated the No. 1 prospect heading into the season. It'll be interesting to see what kind of impact this 20-year-old kid from La Guaira, Venezuela, can have on a Major League ball club.
Braves 2018 Projected Rotation & Closer
The Braves' rotation this year looks relatively similar to what we saw last season with them. Julio Teheran is the staff ace, and with good reason. Teheran posted an 11-13 record last year with a 4.49 ERA. Teheran was the unlucky recipient of poor run support as the Braves managed more than three runs just a handful of times with Tehran on the mound. If that stat changes (and everything says it will), Teheran could become a 15-20 game winner since he definitely has the tools to do so.
As far as the rest of the order goes, Sean Newcombe, Mike Foltynewicz, Brandon McCarthy and Scott Kazmir will be tasked with keeping Atlanta relevant and in somewhat of a playoff race late in the season. That task will be rather daunting considering Newcomb is coming off a 4-9 season, Foltynewicz is coming off a 10-13 season, while Brandon McCarthy and Scott Kazmir combined to win 16 games for the Dodgers last season.
Should one of those four pitchers falter or suffer an injury, next in line would be Luiz Gohara or Lucas Sims. Gohara is currently nursing a groin injury and has just started throwing BP sessions. He was tabbed as a likely candidate to make the opening-day roster, but now it all depends on how he looks in limited spring training time. Sims, on the other hand, pitched in 14 games last season and accrued a record of 3-6 with a 5.62 ERA. He figures to be on bullpen duty for the first part of the season, but he could be worth keeping an eye on.
Furthermore, the Braves' bullpen is one to be forgotten. With Arodys Vizcaino doing the closing and players like Jose Ramirez, Sam Freeman and Chase Whitley acting as setup men, the Braves would be best suited to win every game by 10 or more runs in order to avoid the consistent letdown of blown holds or save opportunities.
It really is a tough time to be a Braves' fan.
Atlanta Braves 2018 Predictions
FanGraphs projects Atlanta to finish with one more win this year than they did last year to bring their season record to an astonishing 73-89. That will be enough to keep the Braves out of last place in the NL East by eight games but far enough back of the Nationals (17) to not even consider Atlanta a wild-card hopeful. As I've mentioned a few times already, this roster is very bad. It lacks power and speed in the batting order and lacks high-quality pitchers who can stop a losing streak. It's going to be a long year for Braves' fans, but there is always next year to look forward to. Take the "under" 74.5 wins (-115) and win yourself some money.
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