The 2018 Atlanta Braves won 90 games on the way to the NL East title. By any measure, it was a splendid performance from a team that outpaced preseason expectations and, even if the campaign ended abruptly with a playoff loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers, nothing seemed fluky about the team’s regular season showing.
Since then, the Braves added Josh Donaldson (and Brian McCann) to the mix but, in recent days, the hot stove has been silent and the fan base is clearly restless. With that as the backdrop, the good folks at Caesars Entertainment released opening Las Vegas win totals for the 2019 MLB season and the Braves landed at 84 wins.
It is important to note that, while this exercise can be instructive, Las Vegas bookmakers are attempting to lure action, indicating that this isn’t a pure “projection” of what the team will do. Still, it is impossible to ignore the dip from 90 wins (and a 92-win projection by run differential) in 2018 to 84 in 2019.
Of course, the consensus seems to be that Atlanta isn’t done operating during the winter, with a starting outfield spot currently occupied by Adam Duvall and a pitching staff that remains largely unchanged from October. With that said, the team’s NL East rivals are all projected for improvement based on off-season transactions.
Washington comes in as the “projected” NL East winner at this (very) early juncture, with a Vegas win total of 88.5 after an 82-80 mark a year ago. From there, the Mets (83.5) and Phillies (83) are in the same range as the Braves, foreshadowing a potentially interesting race for the division crown.
Nuggets like this won’t go over well in Braves Country but, once again, it is worth noting that free agency (and trade season) are still very much ongoing. At the moment, however, very smart people in the desert seemingly envision a step back from the Braves... at least in their current form.