On paper, Atlanta had a great lineup. Power hitters, on-base percentage darlings, strikeout pitchers and a dominant closer. That is a formula for dominance. The team never lived up to their potential. They ended up being one of the worst scoring teams in the Majors.
Fredi Gonzalez is still Atlanta’s skipper, but can he keep his job while the Braves try to rebuild?
Which players may end up on the trading block?
Here is the 2015 MLB season preview for the Atlanta Braves.
2014 Win/Loss Record: 79-83
Key Additions: SP Shelby Miller, 2B Alberto Callaspo, OF Jonny Gomes, OF Nick Markakis, RP Jason Grilli, RP Jim Johnson, RP Mike Foltynewicz, C A.J. Pierzynski, RP Josh Outman, 2B Jace Peterson, OF Zoilo Almonte, 2B Kelly Johnson, OF Eury Perez, RP Matt Capps, SP Wandy Rodriguez, RP Jose Veras & OF Eric Young Jr.
Key Losses: OF Justin Upton, OF Jason Heyward, SP Brandon Beachy, C Evan Gattis, SP Kris Medlen, SP Ervin Santana, RP David Capenter, RP Jordan Walden, SP Gavin Floyd, 2B Ramiro Pena, SP Aaron Harang, C Gerald Laird, RP David Hale, RP Anthony Varvaro RP Gus Schlosser & OF Emilio Bonifacio
Interleague Schedule: AL East
Projected Starters: Christian Bethancourt, Freddie Freeman, Alberto Callaspo, Chris Johnson, Andrelton Simmons, Jonny Gomes, B.J. Upton & Nick Markakis
Projected Starting Rotation: Julio Teheran, Shelby Miller, Mike Minor, Alex Wood & David Hale
Closer: Craig Kimbrel
Fantasy Sleeper: OF Eric Young Jr. – Steals can become difficult to find late in a draft. Young isn’t guaranteed a roster spot, but his speed is hard to ignore. Braves currently have Nick Markakis, Jonny Gomes and Melvin Upton ahead of him on the depth chart, but isn’t it too difficult to believe that he could supplant any one of those guys? I believe Young will be a cheap source of steals.
Prospect To Keep Your Eye On: 2B Jose Peraza – Peraza destroyed the Hi-A and Double-A last season. He hit a combined .339 and stole 60 bases in 75 attempts. He was the reason the Braves let go of Tommy La Stella in a trade so easily. Atlanta currently has the serviceable Alberto Callaspo manning second base, but if Peraza gets off to another hot start, he could end up in the Majors by September.
Team Analysis: The Braves were quite active this offseason. Jason Heyward, Justin Upton, Evan Gattis and many other players from last year’s squad are now elsewhere. They did receive some nice players in return, but this felt more like a ‘let’s blow up the team’ than waiting to get the best deal.
Many teams in the NL East improved across the board. The Braves and Phillies are the only two teams that will do worse than last season. Atlanta was already 29th in the league in Runs Scored and Slugging Percentage, so trading all their power hitters won’t help their ranking this year.
Atlanta does have some nice pieces they can build around, but they haven’t been in this position since the late-80’s. They have always just ‘reloaded’ instead of doing a full rebuild. Andrelton Simmons, Freddie Freeman and Julio Teheran might be the only players on the team that are untouchable in a trade.
The Braves won’t end up in the basement of the NL East, thanks to the Phillies, but they will have their worst record since 1990.
2015 Wins Over/Under Betting Line: 74.5 (Prediction: UNDER)
2015 Projected Win/Loss Record: 70-92 (4th in NL East)
Bobby Roberts (otherwise known as Sweetbob) is the creator of ‘America’s White Boy’ and contributor at Project Shanks. His writing has been featured on ESPN’s ‘SportsNation’, Sports Illustrated’s Hot Clicks, Guyspeed, and various other sites. You can follow him on Twitter at @Sweetbob.