BDD: Atlanta Braves 2010 Preview

At Baseball Daily Digest, I preview the Atlanta Braves going into 2010. My previews of the Phillies should be posted at BDD and The Hardball Times some time next week.

Don’t Be Surprised If…

The Braves win the NL East. They shouldn’t be the favorites to do so, but they’re not too far behind the Phillies.

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10 comments

  1. bfo_33

    March 22, 2010 08:25 AM

    Read the Braves review, just want to make sure I got it right:
    – Will give the Marlins a battle for most errors by an infield
    – Only project 2 players with more than 20 homers
    – Two young starting pitchers who threw a ton last year, got very lucky on balls in play
    – One actual outfielder, the rest are #4s who will platoon
    – The best hitter on team is a constant injury risk, as is the 1st baseman and most of the pen
    – Don’t be surprised if they win the division.
    What did I miss? I don’t think the Braves are a bad team, but they seem to need everything to break their way, and that rarely happens. Pencil them in at 85 wins, sub 0.500 if Chipper is done before the all-star break.

  2. Undocorkscrew

    March 22, 2010 12:01 PM

    Give me a break, bfo_33….

    First off, it can be argued that the Braves offense outproduced the Phillies in the 2nd half of 2009 after Frenchy was moved and Prado took over 2nd. Now, with the offense improved even more…..I think you’re underestimating the lineup.

    Last year the Braves started the season out with this:

    Schafer
    Escobar
    Chipper
    McCann
    Frenchy
    Anderson
    Johnson
    Kotchman

    Now it’s:

    McLouth(upgrade over Schafer)
    Prado(upgrade over Johnson)
    Chipper
    Glaus(upgrade over Kotchman)
    McCann
    Escobar
    Diaz/Cabrera(upgrade over Anderson)
    Heyward(yes, a prospect…..but definitely an upgrade)

    Chipper had a rough year due to lack of protection and trying to play through nagging injuries because of a weak lineup. You don’t go from leading the league in OPS and AVG to hitting .263 because of lack of talent. He’s stayed relatively healthy these past 3 years and I see no reason why he can’t do that again.

    Escobar is steadily improving every season. McCann has seemed to have corrected his vision problems that plagued him in the first half of 09. Heyward, an absolute monster, is a question mark……but I have no reason to doubt his ability to make an immediate impact, and given what the team ran out there in 09……he’s probably an upgrade either way.

    I’m not too concerned with Glaus’s injury history. He’ll have much less strain on that shoulder moving to 1st. And the Braves finally have a bit of depth at the 1st and 3B positions, to give Chipper and Glaus a day off when needed.

    Yes, Jurrjens probably pitched above his potential last year…..but Hanson is likely the real deal(whether you’re looking at general stats or sabermetrics, the numbers are there). Hudson is coming off surgery, but he should be fine. Kawakami is as good a 5th starter as any in the game. And Lowe can’t possibly be any worse than he was last year….

    As for the bullpen, Saito and Wagner do make me nervous. But when healthy, they’re two of the best. Both have looked good this spring though.

    And 2 guys projected to hit 20+ HR? I don’t put stock into projection systems, but McLouth, Chipper, McCann, Glaus, and possibly Heyward are all capable of hitting 20+ HR……and you know that(excluding Heyward).

  3. Undocorkscrew

    March 22, 2010 12:25 PM

    …and didn’t one of these ‘projection’ systems have the A’s winning the AL West and the Yankees finishing 3rd in the east? I can’t believe people actually put stock into them.

    And since you obviously do, isn’t the Braves overall projected WAR slightly above the Phillies for 2010?

  4. bfo_33

    March 23, 2010 06:02 AM

    Projections are something to do until the season starts. Will the Braves be an easy sweep? No. Even in your counterpoint, you bring up a lot of watch outs.
    When a team needs almost everything to go right, has a terrible defensive infield, two young starters who got very lucky on balls in play, plus the inconsistency of Lowe, it seems pretty tough to project them as a division winner. No team stays healthy an entire year, and old guys are a bigger risk than young guys (Chipper, Glaus, Wagner, Saito – pretty key parts of the team). Going out a winner for Cox will only have so much steam. This division is a battle between the Phils and Marlins. Braves are a wild card threat into early Sept, but I don’t see them staying healthy enough to finish the deal. Look for them to compete in 2011.

  5. Undocorkscrew

    March 23, 2010 11:00 AM

    What exactly do the Marlins have going for them? Sure, they’re less of an injury risk at key positions……but that’s literally the only thing going for them.

    You want to talk about things having to go right for a team?

    Uggla has to find consistency.

    Everybody in that rotation outside of Johnson has to find consistency.

    They’ll have a rookie at 1B.

    They’ll have to cut down on the K’s.

    The bullpen is a mess.

    And dude, you just said the exact same thing in your 2nd post as you did in the 1st.

    Seriously, you’re literally the only person I’ve seen saying that the Marlins have a better shot than the Braves….and aside from them not being huge injury risks(although they are there), what exactly do they do better than the Braves? Home runs?

  6. Undocorkscrew

    March 23, 2010 11:03 AM

    ….and even projection systems are predicting Hanson’s ERA in the low 3.00’s. He may have a slight drop off, but he’s certainly looking like the real deal as it stands. Jurrjens will be a solid #3.

    And of all things the Braves could be criticized for, the last thing I expected was it to be for their rotation(which is your main point).

    Hudson, Hanson, Jurrjens, Lowe, Medlen, and Kawakami. It’s a solid, dependable rotation. Sorry.

  7. Undocorkscrew

    March 23, 2010 11:06 AM

    …and YOU’RE saying they need everything to go right, based on……well, nothing really.. Obviously everything isn’t going to go right for any team, and I’m sure the people picking the Braves for either the division or wild card are aware of that.

  8. Undocorkscrew

    March 23, 2010 09:30 PM

    Are these ad bots common here?

  9. bfo_33

    March 24, 2010 06:43 AM

    Sometimes magic seasons occur. The Rays had a lot of talent since 2005, but couldn’t put it together until 2008. The Red Sox finally overcame the Yanks in 2004. Atl should not back up their bags after spring training and wait until next season, they certainly have a shot. My primary point was that they were listed as a threat to win the division, then the post documented pretty thoroughly all the potential obstacles in the way (I don’t want to repeat myself again). Undocorkscrew, you have to admit a lot of things have to go right for the Braves to win the division. They could just as easily go very wrong (see Mets 2009).
    Some teams are deeper than others. Compared to the Phils, the Braves aren’t that deep (Phils got to the WS without a bullpen or an ace for most of the season, and still survived, have upgraded their holes on the bench, bullpen, and starting pitching, have a team with the majority of it’s position players in their prime, are very strong defensively up the middle, and have a capable bench). The Braves have few players in their prime, 28-32 (either young or old). A tough way to win it. Anything is possible, that’s why you play the season.

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