2019 Atlanta Braves Predictions and Odds to Win the World Series
It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to win a World Series these days. It does take some good luck, but that’s the case in any sport. Otherwise, simply take years to build your farm system to one of the best in the majors. And when all those top prospects are ready to contribute to the big club, supplement them with a big-time free agent veteran or two.
That formula has worked for the last three champions: the Boston Red Sox, Houston Astros and Chicago Cubs. And it’s why I don’t understand why the Atlanta Braves haven’t done more this offseason as they appear poised to be a contender for the next 3-5 years with tons of young talent … yet no big-ticket free agent to anchor the lineup or rotation and teach those kids how to win.
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After four straight losing seasons, the Braves won the NL East last year at 90-72 before losing in four games in the NLDS to a deeper, better Dodgers team. Still, it was clearly a breakthrough season for the franchise. Why hasn’t ownership opened the wallet this offseason and at least looked into a Bryce Harper or Dallas Keuchel or former Braves closer Craig Kimbrel? The N.L. East rival Mets and Phillies both got way better this offseason, and I might argue the Nationals did too even with losing Harper (whom I’m assuming will be in Philly). Remember, the Braves are in a pretty new stadium so money shouldn’t be much of an object, and those fair-weather Atlanta fans could use a reason to come to the park.
Atlanta opens the 2019 season March 28 in Philadelphia.
Braves 2019 Projected Lineup
The Braves did add third baseman and former AL MVP Josh Donaldson on a one-year, $23 million deal this offseason, but Donaldson is way past his prime at age 33 and has had trouble staying on the field the past two years. Last season, he played just 52 combined games with the Blue Jays and Indians and hit .246 with eight homers and 23 RBIs. Atlanta also brought back catcher Brian McCann on a cheap one-year deal, but he’s even further past his prime than Donaldson and will simply back up Tyler Flowers.
Atlanta does have two MVP candidates in first baseman Freddie Freeman and second-year outfielder Ronald Acuna Jr. Freeman was third in the NL in batting last year (.309) with 23 homers and 98 RBIs while playing all 162 games. Acuna looks like he could be the next Mike Trout as he became the first Brave to win Rookie of the Year honors since Kimbrel in 2011 and first Venezuela native to win the award since Ozzie Guillen won the AL Rookie of the Year in 1985. In 111 games, Acuna hit .293 with 25 homers, 64 RBIs, a .918 OPS and 16 stolen bases. Acuna homered in five straight games from Aug. 11-14, becoming the youngest player in baseball history to homer in as many as four straight games. I can say with certainty the Braves wouldn’t trade the 21-year-old straight up right now even for Trout (especially when you consider finances).
So, the lineup should look something like OF Ender Inciarte, 3B Donaldson, 1B Freeman, OF Acuna Jr., OF Nick Markakis (re-signed this offseason), C Flowers, 2B Ozzie Albies (another promising youngster) and SS Dansby Swanson (great in 38 games as a rookie but not the same since). Really no holes here if Swanson can live up to being the No. 1 overall pick.
Braves 2019 Projected Rotation & Closer
Lot of good young arms here, but this group could really use a veteran workhorse like a Keuchel to eat innings. The flame-throwing Mike Foltynewicz was an All-Star last year, finishing 13-10 with a 2.85 ERA and 202 strikeouts. How will his one-time surgically repaired arm react to throwing a career-high 183 regular-season innings?
Lefty Sean Newcomb showed why he was a top prospect in going 12-9 with a 3.90 ERA but also threw by far a career high in innings (164). Kevin Gausman came over last season in trade from the Orioles and it seems like he has been in the majors for a decade but is only 28. He was much better in the NL, going 5-3 with a 2.87 ERA following the trade. Julio Teheran can be maddening because he’s so good one start and so bad the next. He finished 9-9 with a 3.94 ERA. Finally, top prospect Touki Toussaint is penciled in at No. 5. He retains rookie status after pitching just 29 big-league innings in 2018 and going 2-1 with a 4.03 ERA.
Some still believe Kimbrel will be an option with his price dropping and he would be an upgrade on injury-prone closer Arodys Vizcaino (2-2, 16 SV, 2.11), who probably would fare better as an eighth-inning guy.
This group could be great … but several of the guys could also break down.
Braves Futures Odds
At 5Dimes, Atlanta has a win total of 86.5, with both options at -110. The Braves are +300 to win the NL East, +320 to reach the NLCS, +650 for the pennant and +1500 to win the World Series.
Braves 2019 Predictions
Have to project as things stand, although the Braves adding an arm here in the next couple of weeks wouldn’t surprise me at all. Kimbrel would really help and shortens the game by an inning. Find some veteran stopgap starter to keep Toussaint on the back burner. I recommend slightly over the win total – FanGraphs has Atlanta winning just 82 -- but the Braves don’t repeat as division champions. The Phillies, as I’m presuming Harper lands there, take it. Wild-card spot is doable for Atlanta.
Read more articles by Alan Matthews
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