Atlanta Braves 2021 Preview
Updated: Mar 16, 2021
Welcome to the final month before opening day! I hope you have been enjoying spring training as much as I have. Baseball is close! I am overjoyed! March begins the official Ball Boy Blog previews of all 30 teams. The previews feature all the Free Agent signings, trades, NRI, bold predictions, and some cool fun facts at the end! We are starting at the top of the 2020 ranks and working our way down from best to worst! Enjoy!
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Last Year Record: 35-25, first place in the NL East and made it to the NLCS. Record x2.7: 94.5-67.5
Vegas Projected: 91.5. I am taking a huge over with the Braves as I have them projected to win 102 games in 2021 and win the AL East by seven games.
OF Adam Duvall(Non-tendered), INF Jack Mayfield(traded)
Free Agent Signings
-OF/DH Marcell Ozuna resigned on a 4yr $65mil guarantee.
-RHP Josh Tomlin resigned with the Atlanta Braves on a 1ya $1mil deal with a club option for 2022. Great move for the Braves to get Tomlin back. Tomlin posted a 4.76ERA/4.02FIP as we saw Tomlin used for spot starts and in pen for the Braves in 2020.
-The Atlanta Braves signed 1B/3B Jake Lamb to a 1yr deal. Lamb earned an All-Star nod in 2017 and looked to be a crucial building block for the team. Then in 2018 brought shoulder surgery and derailed his career. Over the past three seasons, he has just a .205/.309/.351 slash with 15HR and 563The PA. The Braves don't need Lamb to return to All-star form. However, the left-handed-hitting 3B provides a power option to go along with Austin Riley and Johan Camargo. He also provides quality depth behind 1B MVP Freddie Freeman.
-SP Drew Smyly to a 1yr $11MIL deal. With the Giants in 2020, Smyly posted a 3.26ERA/2.01FIP over 26.1IP. Smyly looks to be a lock-in rotation in 2021 after Max Fried and Mike Soroka.
-SP Charlie Morton to a 1yr-$15mil deal. Morton became a free agent after Tampa Bay declined his $15mil option. In 2020 Morton pitched 38IP with a 4.47ERA/3.45FIP with 42K. The 37yo vet was great in the Post Season as he went 3-1 and helped seal Ray's trip to the World Series. Over the last two seasons, Morton has gone 18-8 with a 3.33ERA in 42 starts. He is 5-1 with a 2.10ERA in the postseason during that same span.
INF Ryan Goins(3/9)- Goins has been in camp and has gone 2/6. The 33yo has a career .228/.278/.333 slash line in 1690PA in his career. He has a great glove, 25DRS in 2095INN at 2B, 7DRS at SS in 1460INN, and 7DRS in 299INN at 3B.
INF Pablo Sandoval- We all know the Panda
INF Jason Kipnis- Kipnis signed a similar deal with the Cubs last season and had his most productive season out of the last four. In 135PA, he hit .237/.341/.404 and had a career-high K rate of 30.4%. The 34yo will look to help the Braves make another deep playoff run.
RHRP Nate Jones- The 35yo has battled injuries in recent memory. From 2017-19 he only managed 52IP. With the Reds in 2020, he could notch 18.2IP with a 6.27ERA/3.56SIERA and a 96MPH average on his fastball.
RHRP Carl Edwards Jr.- The former Cub was an excellent option between 2015-19; then the production fell off as a Padre throwing the only 1.2IP of 6ER. He only was able to pitch 4.2IP with the Mariners in 2020. Edwards owns a career 3.54ERA over 180.2IP.
UTL Ehire Adrianza- In 465 big league games and hitting .244/.310/.360 over 1220PA. He could be a useful bench piece as a switch-hitter and can play anywhere on the field.
OF Terrance Gore- The 29yo Gora has appeared in 102G and only 77PA with a .224/.325/.284 slash with elite speed. The deal is a minor deal, with no MLB invite. He will be a speed stash. His average spring speed is 29.9 feet per second, 9th best in the MLB out of 568 players.
OF Guillermo Heredia- The 30yo played with both the Mets and Pirates; he slashed a .212/.278/.394 line over 36PA. He is a career .239/.316/.344 hitter in 1137PA
OF Phillip Ervin- The 28yo has a .262/.326/.438 slash over 571PA from 2017-19. However, in 2020 he only hit .149/.292/.189 in 89PA.
INF/OF Travis Demeritte- The 26yo has a .217/.264/.323 slash with 219PA from 2019-20 with the Tigers. He returns to the Braves after being traded in 2019. He is a career .286/.387/.558 in 399PA at the AAA level. He also has two minor league options available.
RHP Victor Arano- Arano owns a career 2.65ERA, 26.3K% over 74.2IP. After missing the last two seasons due to elbow surgery, if healthy could prove to be one of the best claims of the winter.
LHP Thomas Burrows, RHP Jason Creasy, RHP Daysbel Hernandez, LHP Kurt Hoekstra, RHP Conner Johnstone, RHp Nolan Kingham, RHP Freddy Tarnok, RHP Civtor Codnik, RHP William Woods, C Logan Brown, C Jonathan Morales, INF CJ Alexander, INF Bryce ball, INF Sean Kazmar Jr., OF Justin Dean, OF Michael Harris, OF Trey Harris,
RHRP Chasen Bradford- Bradford owns a 3.89ERA over 104IP in parts of three seasons with the Mets and Mariners. The 31yo will provide great depth for the Braves.
INF Johan Camargo, LHP Grant Dayton, RHP Luck Jackson, RHP AJ Minter, SP Mike Soroka, SP Max Fried, SS Dansby Swanson
P Kyle Muller, only 23yo he has been good at AA in his 140 2/3IP with a 3.12ERA, with a K per frame to go along with it. He does have command issues as documented in 2019 with 68BB, 16WP, seven batters hit.
Returning from IL:
SP Mike Soroka
OUT OF OPTIONS:
Abraham Almonte, RF
Luke Jackson, P
Grant Dayton, P
Phillip Ervin, RF
Tyler Matzek, P
-I am all in on OF Christian Pache; the team is trying to use him as CF in 2021. The move should play out nicely for the Braves, with Ozuna slated for routine duty in LF.
-I am a big fan of SP Ian Anderson coming into the 2020 season. In his first 32.1IP, he had 41K-14BB with a 1.95ERA/2.54FIP. He finished 7th in the RoY vote and could steal the award.
-A few guys who have also impressed like Anderson are LHP Kyle Muller, C William Contreras, LHP Tucker Davidson.
-A few other guys I am watching in the camp are: OF Drew Water, C Shea Langeliers, INF Braden Shewmake, RHP Jasseel De La Cruz. All of these young guys are within the Brave's top-10 prospects.
Fantasy Impact Players
SP- Mike Soroka, Max Fried, Ian Anderson, RP- AJ Minter, Will Smith, Sean Newcomb, Josh Tomlin, C Travis d'Arnaud, 1B Freddie Freeman, 2B Ozzie Albiez, SS Dansby Swanson, LF Marcell Ozuna, RF Ronald Acuna Jr.
Upcoming 2022 Free Agents:
-MVFree will be a Free Agent come 2021off-season. With the Braves in an NLCS game 7 with the Dodgers in 2020, I don't think they will let their long-time cornerstone walk.
-The duo of Charlie Morton and Drew Smyly will be free-agents. They both are on one-year deals for 2021.
-C Travis d'Arnaud will be looking at free agency as well next. He put together an excellent season for the team at the plate in 2020. I expect them to keep him around, if for nothing else, a platoon partner.
-OF Ender Inciarte and RHP Josh Tomlin both carry club options. Inciartes is for $9mil, and I expect the decline there. However, Tomlins is for only $1.25mil.
Storylines to follow
-We all are following the recovery of Mike Soroka. However, we also need to follow how Ian Anderson follows up an excellent debut.
-I am also watching to see how Christian Pace does in CF. I am also very interested to see how 3B shakes out for the club. With Jake Lamb, Austin Riley, and Johan Camargo each getting a shot in camp.
-The rebound is coming for Mike Soroka. He missed most of 2020 due to injury and was only able to pitch in 13.2IP. Soroka is looking to get back to his 2019 form when he earned an All-Star nod, 6th place Cy Young finish, and 2nd place RoY finish.
-The NRI I am watching in the camp is RHRP Victor Arano and RHRP Carl Edwards Jr. Both are coming off seasons where they didn't pitch at all. Both have excellent track records of success. If both show healthy this spring and look to be back in their form from 2019, they could help form one of the NL East's best pens.
Would it be too bold to predict a World Series ring in 2021 for the Braves? It would be but check back with me no later than 2023. My bold prediction for the Braves is that MVFree repeats the MVP in the NL.
-The MLB time has been pretty much good to start his career, but we have only scratched the surface for Ozzie Albies. The below-average .271/.306/.466 left much to be desired. However, he did lead the league in AB and H in 2019. Part of the problem for Albies in 2020 was 30K-5BB. The outlandish 6-1 ratio was the highest in his career. The Braves have improved the roster, and so has the rest of the NL East. The Braves need their young star to produce.
The Braves delivered the first world championship for Atlanta in 1995 and entered the record books as the first franchise to win the World Series in three different cities:
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