2016 MLB Projections: Atlanta Braves

2015 was a horrific year for the Atlanta Braves. The so called “Barves”, nicknamed after how bad Atlanta played last season, finished (67-95), which was third-to-last overall in the MLB, and second-to-last in the NL East. As Atlanta struggled to even win ballgames in the second half of the season, some fans didn’t know what the future of the Braves were going to look like.

Just a few weeks after the Regular Season ended, the Braves assigned John Coppolella to be the teams new General Manager.
This led to many moves over the offseason, which first started with the Re-signing of veteran Catcher, A.J. Pierzynski. This was a crucial move for Atlanta, as A.J. hit between the .280 – .300 range throughout his first season with the ball club, and basically was needed to lead the pathway for the future prospects to a great career. Next came Andrelton Simmons. On November 12, 2015, the Atlanta Braves traded SS Andrelton Simmons and a catching prospect to the Los Angeles Angels for SS Erick Aybar, P Sean Newcombe (MLB’s #21 Overall Prospect) and P Chris Ellis. As many fans around the Atlanta area mourned the loss of Simmons, nobody had an idea of how good of Erick Aybar was for the Angels. In 2015, Aybar hit .270 with a .301 OBP, including 3 HR and 44 RBI’s. Even though the stats don’t stick out, you will have to watch Aybar in person to see how good of a defensive player he is.

Then on December 8th, 2015, the Braves probably made the biggest move of their Rebuilding Process so far. The Atlanta Braves traded Shelby Miller to the Arizona Diamondbacks for OF Ender Inciarte, SS Dansby Swanson (MLB’s #8 Overall Prospect) and P Aaron Blair (MLB’s #56 Overall Prospect). I also think that this was a great move for Atlanta, even though they traded away one of their aces from this past season, they gained a great, athletic, stellar Center Fielder in Inciarte, an unbelievable prospect in Swanson, and possibly, a Greg Maddux-like pitcher in Blair. When this trade was executed, many D-Backs fans went nuts, as they lost Swanson, who was picked #1 Overall in the 2015 MLB First-Player Draft and Blair, but would suddenly calm after the signing of Zack Greinke. Most likely, the only player that might get a lot of playing time this year from this trade will be Inciarte, as he .303 in 2015, including a .338 OBP and .978 fielding percentage, which is one of the best in the league. Inciarte will most likely be the Opening Day starting Center Fielder, but I will save my predictions for later.

So, I can’t really recap all of the other Offseason moves for the Braves, but here are some that might affect the skill and athleticism of the 2016 Atlanta Braves.

  • Signed SP Bud Norris – November 2015
  • Signed RP Jim Johnson – November 2015
  • Signed 2B Gordon Beckham – December 2015
  • Acquired RP Jose Ramirez – December 2015
  • Signed RP Alex Torres – December 2015
  • Signed UTL Kelly Johnson – January 2016
  • Re-Signed RP Arodys Vizcaino – January 2016
  • Re-Signed RP Chris Withrow – January 2016
  • Acquired RP Eric O’Flaherty – March 2016
  • Acquired UTL Tyler Moore – March 2016
  • Purchased Contract of Jeff Francoeur – March 2016

And now, for my 2016 Atlanta Braves Predictions….

  1. Who will be on the Braves Opening Day Roster?

There are still a lot of questions to determine on who will make the Opening Day roster, as the current Atlanta Braves roster sits at 30 on March 29, 2016. But, I think that the following five will either get cut, or assigned to Minor League camp: P Jesse Biddle, P John Gant, P Andrew McKirahan (currently injured, but on Active Roster), P Jose Ramirez and P Daniel Winkler. The rest of the players that I did not name will probably make the Opening Day Roster.

2. Who will be the top surprises of the 2016 Season?

During the 2016 Spring Training, there was a lot of surprises that I saw with some of the players. One of them is Hector Olivera. Hector hit .411 this Spring, with no homers, but drove in 12. This year, if he avoids injuries, I have him hitting about .280, with 15-20 HR’s, and driving in about 60-75 runs. Another surprise I saw was that Matt Wisler was starting to get on top of his game. Even though he went (0-0) with a 3.12 ERA, I think he might have enough to win ten games this season, and post a sub-three ERA.

3. What will the Lineup/Rotation look like?

According to my predictions, and Fredi Gonzalez’ past lineup cards in the last five days, the lineup should look something like this:

  1. CF Ender Inciarte
  2. SS Erick Aybar
  3. 1B Freddie Freeman
  4. 3B Adonis Garcia
  5. RF Nick Markakis
  6. LF Hector Olivera
  7. C A.J. Pierzynski
  8. 2B Jace Peterson
  9. **Pitcher**

And the Rotation should look a little something like this…

  1. Julio Teheran
  2. Bud Norris
  3. Matt Wisler
  4. Williams Perez
  5. Manny Banuelos OR Mike Foltynewicz

4. When will the big name prospects get called up?

According to GM John Coppolella, the Atlanta Braves should start to call up some of their big name prospects before the end of the 2016 season. Coppy also said that the first to show up could either be P Aaron Blair or P Sean Newcombe, which both could help out in the bullpen OR the rotation if a normal starter is injured. I also read an article a few weeks ago stating that Dansby Swanson could get called up as soon as June, of this season. But, I wouldn’t go off of that, as Dansby is only currently in Single-A or Double-A.

5. Where do you see the Braves this season, and in the future?

In 2016, I see the Atlanta Braves finishing last in the NL East, due to the fact that they will call up almost all of their Superstar Prospects, and looking towards the future. So overall, I think the Braves could lose 100 games this year. It won’t be pretty this upcoming season, but some of the games will be a lot of fun.

In 2017, I see the Braves making the Wild Card, behind the Mets. Why? well, the Braves will still not have enough power to get past tough team such as the Cubs, Dodgers and Mets at that time, but will give some teams a battle at the plate, and on the field. I have them winning about 90 games.

In 2018 and on, I see Atlanta winning the NL East, as they will have the Defense, the Offense, and the Pitching to push this team onto the NLCS or the World Series. As also stated, John Coppolella thinks that from 2018 to the future, the Braves WILL win a World Series.

So, sit back and relax Atlanta fans. The Road to the World Series starts now! Even though it’s not 2017 yet, we will still have fun seeing the development of these new prospects over the next few years, and we will try to spend almost all of our Summer Nights at the new ballpark, if not, then watching on Fox Sports South or Southeast.

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