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Atlanta Braves 2018: Scouting, Projected Lineup, Expert Insight

Freddie Freeman

Freddie Freeman

Here’s what you need to know about the Braves in 2018: Freddie Freeman is good. As for the other 24 Brave men on the roster, we don’t know what to tell you. The problem with a rebuilding team — other than the 90-loss seasons — is that the players are mostly young, which means that you can always fool yourself into thinking that a few of them are just a year away from maturing into stars … or even just being decent. Sometimes, you’re even right to believe that success is just a swing of the bat away. Is that the case with the Braves in 2017? Well, it depends on how you define success.

Don’t expect this team to make the playoffs — there just aren’t a lot of proven players on the roster — but the Braves should take another step back toward respectability.

Opposing Scouts Size Up the BRAVES

“I still think it’ll be a while until they contend. They’ve collected a lot of arms, but I haven’t seen a future ace yet. Julio Teheran looked spooked early on by the new ballpark; he’s an aggressive guy, which is great, but that place really favors the hitters. He pitched better there as the season went on, so he’ll be fine, although he’s really an average No. 2 for me, at best. I do like Arodys Vizcaino at the back end of the bullpen — great stuff, and he comes right at you. They’re a very left-leaning lineup, led by Freddie Freeman, which helps in that park because of the short porch in right. But you would like to see a little more punch from the right side. Dansby Swanson is a righty, but I don’t see a tremendous amount of projection with him. He’s a polished college player who looks like he’s leveled off already. It’s a work in progress here, but Alex Anthopoulos will be aggressive when the time is right — he was an inspired choice as GM after the international bonus scandal.”

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Beyond the Box Score

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Third option

In the 16 games that Freddie Freeman played third base in 2017, Baseball Info Solutions — a company that keeps advanced defensive metrics — rated his performance as above average. Their method adjusts for the difficulty of each chance (ground ball, line drive) that a fielder has to handle, but Freeman, a career first baseman who hadn’t played third since his rookie ball days, acquitted himself well at the position, saving the Braves an extra three runs above what would have been expected of an “average” third baseman during his time there.

Mr. Durable

Nick Markakis showed up for work just about every day in 2017, logging 160 games. In his 12 MLB seasons, Markakis has played in at least 155 games in all but two: his rookie season (2006) when he managed “only” 147 games, and 2012, when he played in 104 due to his lone trip to the disabled list.

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Brazilian import

Luiz Gohara became the third pitcher (and fifth player overall) in MLB history born in the country of Brazil. He joins catcher Yan Gomes, outfielder Paulo Orlando and pitchers Andre Rienzo and Thyago Vieira as players to come from this emerging baseball hotbed.

Fast games

In 2017, the Braves’ motto was apparently, “Let’s get this over with!” Braves games lasted, on average, 3 hours and 4 minutes, fourth quickest in MLB and about five minutes faster than the rest of the league. Only the Reds, Royals and Padres played faster in 2017.

Pitching parents

When Mike Foltynewicz was growing up, he was so obsessed with becoming a professional baseball player that he was always asking his mother and father to throw batting practice to him. He reports that he asked so much that both of his parents sustained elbow injuries as a result. 

Lifer

In 2018, manager Brian Snitker will begin his fifth decade as an employee of the Atlanta Braves. Snitker was a catcher in the Braves minor-league system from 1977-80, and after his playing career he became a manager in the minor-league system and then the Braves’ third base coach before he finally got to sit in the big chair.

Tracking it down

According to StatCast, center fielder Ender Inciarte got to 19 extra fly balls that an “average” outfielder wouldn’t have tracked down, trailing only Byron Buxton of the Twins in that category.

Projected Lineup

LINEUP
CF     Ender Inciarte (L)
2B    Ozzie Albies (S)
1B     Freddie Freeman (L)
LF     Nick Markakis (L)
C     Tyler Flowers (R)
SS     Dansby Swanson (R)
RF     Ronald Acuna (R)
3B     Johan Camargo (S)
BENCH
C     Kurt Suzuki (R)
INF    Rio Ruiz (L)
INF    Charlie Culberson (R)
OF    Lane Adams (R)
OF    Preston Tucker (L)
ROTATION
RHP    Julio Teheran
RHP    Brandon McCarthy
LHP    Scott Kazmir
RHP    Mike Foltynewicz
LHP    Sean Newcomb
BULLPEN
RHP    Arodys Vizcaino
RHP    Jose Ramirez
LHP    A.J. Minter
RHP     Dan Winkler
LHP    Sam Freeman
RHP    Chase Whitley
RHP    Josh Ravin