Atlanta Braves 2019: Scouting, Projected Lineup, Season Prediction

How will things shape up in the NL East?

Anyone who has ever done a long highway drive has had that moment. You realize that, somehow, you have driven 20 miles from where you last remember being, but you have no recollection of how you got there. It felt like that in Atlanta. The Braves, who were coming off three consecutive 90-loss seasons, are suddenly good again, winning 90 games in 2018, and it seemed to happen in the blink of an eye. The Braves enter 2019 as not only one of the best teams in the National League, but also the veterans of a surprise playoff appearance last fall.


The problem with “prospects” (and Atlanta has plenty of them) is that they are like bread in an old toaster. You’re pretty sure that they’ll eventually pop up, but sometimes they don’t, and even when they do, you’re not entirely sure what the results will be. Fortunately for the Braves, there was a lot of good toast to go around at SunTrust Park, and there’s likely to be more popping up soon. 

 

Opposing Scouts Size Up the Braves

Atlanta Braves logo“It’s hard not to be jealous of this lineup. Freddie Freeman and Ronald Acuna Jr. are two of the best players in the game — yes, I’m putting Acuna there already — and guys like Ozzie Albies and Dansby Swanson still have room to grow. Their center fielder, Ender Inciarte, catches everything, and having Johan Camargo as an extra infielder will keep Albies, Swanson and Josh Donaldson fresh. The Donaldson move could pay off in a big way; even at $23 million, it’s just a one-year deal and a risk well worth taking. Signing Brian McCann is another masterstroke — he’s an 80 makeup guy [top of the scale] who brings a team together, like David Ross, and he’ll work well in a platoon with Tyler Flowers, who is one of the best pitch-framers in the game. I don’t see a true No. 1 starter here, at least until Sean Newcombe shows better command. But with Newcombe, Mike Foltynewicz and Kevin Gausman, they’ve got a solid foundation in the rotation, and a lot of interesting arms just below.”


Beyond the Box Score

Mr. Versatility Utility man Charlie Culberson appeared at all four infield positions in 2018, as well as left and right field. In a game against the Rockies in August, he took the mound in the ninth inning, and in doing so, he became one of only 12 players to appear at seven or more different defensive positions for the year. Culberson made the most of his plate appearances off the bench in 2018, hitting two pinch-hit walk-off home runs within a week in late May and early June.


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Very Superstitious Pitcher Kevin Gausman, like many players, has a superstition about touching the foul line as he jogs onto the field, though Gausman gained a reputation for not just striding over the chalk but leaping over it. It’s not the only superstition he gained notoriety for. Early in his career, he began eating four powdered mini-donuts between innings when he pitched.


Good Luck Charm Speaking of superstitions, shortstop Dansby Swanson keeps a small doll in the shape of a rhinoceros in his locker. The doll was a joke gift from his sister after Swanson was injured during his freshman year in college and was supposed to be a charm to ward off any more medical mishaps.


Iron Men Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman and right fielder Nick Markakis both appeared in all 162 games in 2018. They were among only seven players who found their way into all of the box scores last year and only the second pair of teammates since 2008 to accomplish the feat. It was also Freeman’s second time playing in every game, having previously done it in 2014.


Local Knowledge Maybe the Braves get a little extra home-field advantage by signing players with local roots. Culberson, Swanson, Tyler Flowers and Brian McCann all hail from the Peach State.


Stretching Out The Braves excelled in another area of the game that isn’t always so visible, ranking fourth in MLB in their ability to “steal” extra bases in the form of doing things like going from first base to third base on a single, or scoring from first on a double.


Late Bloomer Second baseman Ozzie Albies is a switch-hitter, but he didn’t start hitting at all from the left side of the plate until he was 16, after the Braves signed him as an amateur free agent.  


Old Timer Manager Brian Snitker began his managerial career in 1982 at the tender age of 26 with the Anderson Braves (Class A) of the South Atlantic League, where Snitker was a mere three years older than some of the players on his team.


Projected Lineup

 

LINEUP

LF  Ronald Acuna Jr. (R)
1B  Freddie Freeman (L)
3B  Josh Donaldson (R)
C   Brian McCann (L)
RF  Nick Markakis (L)
2B  Ozzie Albies (S)
CF  Ender Inciarte (L)
SS  Dansby Swanson (R)

 

BENCH

C   Tyler Flowers (R)
UT Charlie Culberson (R)
INF Pedro Florimon (S)
UT  John Camargo (S)

 

ROTATION

RHP  Mike Foltynewicz
LHP  Sean Newcomb
RHP  Julio Teheran
RHP  Kevin Gausman
RHP  Touki Toussaint

 

BULLPEN

RHP  Arodys Vizcaino (C)
LHP  A.J. Minter
RHP  Shane Carle
LHP  Jesse Biddle
RHP  Dan Winkler
LHP  Jonny Venters
RHP  Darren O’Day
LHP  Sam Freeman

 

2019 PREDICTION

2nd NL East 

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