Sunday, March 5, 2017

Atlanta Braves 2017 season preview

  The Atlanta Braves were one of the league's worst in 2016, going 68-93. GM John Coppollela did some retooling this offseason. Let's take a look at what Coppollela did.
      Key additions: 2B Brandon Phillips, SPs Bartolo Colon, R.A. Dickey, Jaime Garcia, John Danks, C Kurt Suzuki, RP Blaine Boyer, SS Sean Rodriguez.
      Key subtractions: OF Mallex Smith, RPs Chris Withrow, John Gant, Williams Perez, Cs A.J. Pierzynski, Anthony Recker.
      Biggest move: The Braves signed Rodriguez to be their starting 2B, but a car crash changed that, putting Rodriguez out for most of the season, if not all. So the Braves traded 2 minor leaguers for Phillips, a proven star. Another big move was signing 2 older guys in Colon and Dickey to help their rotation.
      X-factor: 26 year old Julio Teheran is the leader of this rotation. If he plays like he did in 2014 (2.89 ERA in 33 starts), the Braves can do WAY better than last year.
       Biggest bounce back: The Braves received both the biggest breakout (below) and pitcher Aaron Blair before the 2016 season for Shelby Miller. Miller was awful for the D-backs, but Blair was also pretty bad. He's just 24 years old, but he had an ERA of 7.59 in 70 innings last year. Blair might not be in the rotation this year, but if he is, expect better numbers.
        Biggest breakout: The bigger part in the Miller/Blair trade, SS Dansby Swanson was a former 1st overall draft pick. In 2016, Swanson played for the first time in the MLB. At age 22, Swanson hit .302 in 129 ABs. He can turn from good to great in 2017.
       Guaranteed star: For the first time in his career, 1B Freddie Freeman hit 30 HRs (he actually hit 34). He also hit 91 RBIs, hitting 90 or more RBIs for the 3rd time. He hit .302, with a career average of .288. He'll put up similar numbers in 2017.
        The Braves starting lineup should look like this.
        1. CF: Ender Inciarte
        2. SS: Dansby Swanson
        3. 1B: Freddie Freeman
        4. LF: Matt Kemp
        5. 2B: Brandon Phillips
        6. RF: Nick Markakis
        7. 3B: Adonis Garcia
        8. C: Tyler Flowers
        9. Pitcher

        Their rotation will most likely be this.
         1. Julio Teheran
         2. Jaime Garcia
         3. R.A. Dickey
         4. Bartolo Colon
         5. Mike Foltynewicz

         Cs Kurt Suzuki, Anthony Recker, SS Chase d'Arnaud, OF Emilio Bonifacio and 2B Jace Peterson are on the bench.
         Arodys Vizcaino will be their closer. Jim Johnson and Josh Collmenter will set him up.

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