We wrap up our roundtable series with a way too early prediction for the Atlanta Braves in 2018. A lot can change between now and opening day but Atlanta’s rotation is younger, Matt Kemp is no longer the left fielder and the team is banking on quite a bit of internal improvement. So I ask, as things stand now, how many games will the Atlanta Braves win in 2018?
Let us know what you think in the comments below.
Too early prediction for 2018?
Ivan: As currently constructed, ~76 wins (think 73-79), with a fourth-place finish in the NL East. This’ll probably be revised upwards, even with no change in the roster, due to the uneven distribution (greater upside) of various prospects who will (hopefully) produce better than the estimates that went into that 76-win figure, but that should work fine as a too-early prediction.
Scott Coleman: It’s so hard to project this team right now. Ozzie Albies and Luiz Gohara will be 21. Ronald Acuna will be 20 whenever he debuts. Dansby Swanson was miserable last summer but has the ability to turn things around. Sean Newcomb has 19 starts under his belt. Mike Foltynewicz just completed his first full year as a big league starter and has the upside for plenty more. Can Julio Teheran bounce back? Will a legitimate 3B come in? Will the bullpen be able to turn things around? Will Freddie Freeman hit like pre- or post- broken wrist? I’ll go with 77-85, but I think it could swing a couple wins in either direction depending on the next few months and how the kids develop.
Sam Meredith: I am being cautiously optimistic, but the Braves, for what was a horrible offseason of scandal, managed to come away with what I would call an improved front office situation. This is huge for the Braves because Anthopolous has put together a proven track record of winning teams in the past and I believe he’s already improved next season’s Braves team. Getting rid of Matt Kemp was the work of a wizard and getting short term contracts with usable players was genius. There are several question marks on the team right now regarding the corner outfield spots and third base, but with the current core of the team being Freeman, Albies, Inciarte, Gohara and eventually Acuna I believe the young Braves will post an 80 win season in 2018 that may entice a big name free agent or two to join the up-and-coming contender. My biggest hope for 2018 is that Dansby Swanson regains his form of the elite prospect that he was considered to be just last year and that he has a breakout season. It has been a rocky offseason with the IFA scandal, to the Braves stepping out of their comfort zone into advanced analytics and sabermetrics, but the future remains bright and 2018 will be telling as to how the Braves must proceed.
Brad Rowland: This is impossible but I’ll roll with 77-85 as currently constructed. That assumes some level of stability in the bullpen, which is a stretch right now, but anything short of a major trade acquisition will keep my projection in the mid-to-high 70’s.
Demetrius Bell: I think that the Braves could have their best shot at .500 or above and it’s mostly because of what’s going on in Miami. This was already a weak division and I expect Washington to cruise to the NL East title again as long as they avoid a succession of pratfalls. With that being said, the Marlins going into full tank mode means that the Braves now have 19 games that they will probably enter as favorites for. If we continue to see improvement from the youngsters who are currently on the squad, combined with Dansby Swanson hopefully proving that 2017 was an aberration instead of the norm and if Acuna is everything we hope he is and also combined with players like Freddie Freeman and Ender Inciarte continuing to do good work, then we could definitely see this team make a run at a winning record. This mostly depends on the Braves taking care of business against the Marlins instead of doing what they did with the Phillies last year where they just could not beat the eventual last-place team in the division with any sort of regularity. If they clean that up, then .500 is not out of the realm of possibility, even with the major questions that they still have on the squad.
Kris Willis: As everyone else mentioned, it is kind of unfair to make a prediction at the beginning of January. Still, if I have to I think the Braves can flirt with the .500 mark thanks to internal improvement and some improved defense. I think Dansby Swanson is much more productive this season and have no reason to believe that Ozzie Albies can’t pick up where he left off last season. This will likely change but for now I will go with 79-83.
Dillon Cloud: 78-83. The rotation has enough question marks to make it difficult for me to predict a .500 season, but the additions of talented prospects to the everyday lineup and presumably the bullpen give me some hope that the club can remain in contention until September. The roster is far from finished with 2 months remaining until Spring Training, but the current makeup of the club would seem to indicate that the Braves will need a little more time before they seriously make a run.
Eric Cole: I will be “that guy” and say 80-82 in terms of being optimistic here. Ozzie Albies is projected to have a big season by some and I think the big league innings he received last year will pay dividends for him in 2017. I expect Ronald Acuna to play most of the year in the big leagues even if he is held down to start the year service time considerations and that is a big boon overall to the team on both sides of the ball. I expect a better year from Dansby Swanson (somewhere between his not good 2017 and his performance when he first debuted with a slight optimistic shading there). There is a lot of variability here in terms of pitching as there are a lot of young arms that have to debut well (Soroka, Allard) and continue to develop (Folty, Newcomb, Fried, Gohara) for this optimistic projection to be true, but I honestly believe at least one of those guys will make a big splash. As for Teheran, I don’t see much downside for the Braves with him in 2018 as he is either good again and/or the Braves will move him. I don’t see a down year for him with the team where he makes a ton of starts as I expect if he doesn’t perform well that he will get moved. An eight win improvement is a LOT, but when you factor that this team lost a lot of close games due to Jim Johnson implosions, having arguably the worst bench in baseball, Bartolo Colon forgetting how to pitch, and the fact that Freddie Freeman missed a ton of time combined with the improvements to the roster...well, it has me in an optimistic mood.