Let’s Do Some 2018 Predictions

Let’s Do Some 2018 Predictions

It’s Opening Day for the 2018 season and there is no hope in baseball like opening day hope. Anything and everything is possible on opening day. Regardless of the talent level, experience level, or expectation level of your favorite team, some part of you, however small, thinks this could be a special year. On opening day, every team in baseball *could* shock the world. Except Miami. They suck.

For the Braves, this will probably be the last year they’ll have to rely more on luck than talent. Every move and every word spoken by the front office this season has echoed one sentiment: one more year. One more year to make the aggressive moves in free agency. One more year roster decisions will be made about the present and not the future. We’ll field a contender. Just give us one more year. By every measure, 2019 will probably be better than 2018.

But no one cares about 2019 when it’s Opening Day 2018. Fans care about the here and now. As they should. Looking ahead to next year is an exercise for later in the summer. Opening day is about this season.

So let’s do some 2018 predictions.

Best Player

I’m going with Ronald Acuña Jr. here. I’ve spent most of the off-season tempering my expectations and taking a conservative approach about his debut his season. Yeah, I’m done with that. Acuña is going to be a monster. Freddie Freeman could be a 5 WAR player in 2018 and still be second best on the team. And that’s what I’m predicting.

Best Pitcher

Coming into the year, I would have said Luiz Gohara and really wouldn’t have considered anyone else. But the injury problems, and even the weight problems, basically cost him his entire spring. Because of that, I feel like he’s going to be behind most of the year and maybe struggle a bit. So I’m going with Mike Soroka. Soroka came into spring with stuff that was a tick better than last year and his teammates and coaches rave about his readiness. Like Acuña, you get the feeling Soroka would be on the roster today had talent been the only consideration. But he’ll be up eventually, I think sooner than later, and when he does, I think he’ll be Atlanta’s best starter.

Biggest Surprise

When he was acquired before Christmas, I wrote that Preston Tucker was probably a little more interesting than people think. I’m not going to re-make that whole case, but basically Tucker has some underlying skills that could easily lead to more success than he’s had to this point. After Acuña comes up and takes over Tucker’s spot, at-bats are going to be hard to come by but Markakis isn’t going to be here forever. At least I don’t think. And when he get his opportunity, I think Tucker will impress people.

Biggest Disappointment

Disappointment is relative to expectations, so this is little tricky. For instance, I don’t think Mike Foltynewicz will be very good this year, but I’ve never been high on Mike Foltynewicz. So if he’s not good this year, is that really a disappointment? I don’t know. For most, probably. On a larger scale, I think Atlanta will experience some injury attrition in their pitching prospect ranks. The bill of health they ran last year was incredible honestly, and just based on the percentages, they should see more arm problems in 2018. And obviously losing any of these guys to major injuries would be a huge disappointment.

Bold Prediction

If Christian Pache continues to compete and progress at the rate he is then it really wouldn’t surprise me to if Atlanta looks to trade Ender Inciarte at some point. And you might think Pache isn’t close enough to the majors for that but Pache could easily get to AA in 2018. And if the numbers and the growth are there, especially with the bat, a 2019 debut isn’t out of the question. His body and his development have progressed at such a rapid rate, really anything is possible for him. As for Ender, he’s a very good player on a very good contract and if Atlanta made him available, the offers would be enticing. And given the steep decline that usually happens with defensive-first outfielders, I wouldn’t blame Atlanta if they wanted to sell high on asset to address another area of need. Especially if that asset’s replacement is in the process of kicking down the door.

Record

Time to get down to brass tacks. This is really what people are here for. How good will they be in 2018? I’ve gone back and forth on this but 79-83 feels too right to be wrong. They will be better than last year because they simply have more talent. Acuña and Soroka are probably already two of their top 10 players. Combine that with a full year of Ozzie Albies and a 6 win improvement, while optimistic, I think is also realistic.

Enjoy the season everybody. We’ll be right here with you, watching and maybe even writing a thing or two along the way.

12 Comments

i just posted a LENGTHY post in The Opening Day article that was posted earlier today. If you want to see why I went with an 88 win season win total (88-74 would be the record)….please check it out (I know, I’ve gone ON AND ON about how The 2018 Season would be the last ‘losing’ year for The Braves).

However, I feel that Albies and Acuna simply will be MORE IMPACTFUL than anyone imagined. If Freddie is healthy for all of 2018 AND if our starting pitchers stay healthy (they wont have to be ‘perfect’..not with the addition of Albies and Acuna in this lineup)…The Braves should seriously SURPRISE some people!

Enjoy the game!

How does Rex Brothers….have a job in MLB? He SUCKED last year…he SUCKED in Spring Training…and who is the 1st call to the bullpen of 2018 that Snitker makes? Rex FREAKING Brothers!

I should have known!

I have to say, Gabe Kapler managed this game WORSE than Snitker did. Snitker should have brought in Sam Freeman in the top of the 6th instead of Brothers….however Kapler makes Snitker look like a Manager of The Year Candidate by pulling Nola in the bottom of the 6th while up 5-0 and only having given up 2 hits on 68 pitches!

Down 5-0..come back to win 8-5 on a walk off by Nick ‘I’m going to try and hit more than 3 homers in my Free Agent Walk Year’ Markakis!

At least the bullpen did a decent job of shutting The Phillies down after Winkler gave up the hit to score those 2 inherited runners. Albies hitting near the top of the order really helps this lineup….I cant wait until Acuna gets in the middle of April!

Well, and that is the issue, isn’t it? When you go into the season with Carle and Brothers and Flaherty and Bourjos instead of better options, you end up looking as horrible as the Braves did for 7 innings tonight and Freeman gets walked three times (and was still the only offense through 7). I realize Flaherty and Bourjos at least won’t embarrass us in the field (see Garcia, Adonis) but they won’t win games. Everyone will talk about how bad Teheran was but he wasn’t – he deserved better. I’ll agree that this game was won because the Phillies choked worse than the Braves but that won’t always be the case. I agree with Tommy that this team has a lot of potential upside THIS year (especially if Tucker breaks through). But one additional competent veteran bullpen addition and a slugging 3B on a short contract would have really made this team have even higher expectations. Already red flags are around with Camargo and Flowers being injured. Not making at least a few tweaks to improve the team this year (I guess there’s always the hope for the trade deadline) is criminal. If you really think this team will win 78-80 (or, heaven forbid, 88), then you owe it to the team to get it some additional help.

I am thrilled we won and even more thrilled that Nick got his first career walk-off HR (kind of hard to believe). I hope I am wrong about the Braves coming up short because of weak 3B and bullpen positions.

Roger…..I dont think that AA is going to have NEARLY the patience with Snitker, that Coppy had. If Snitker continues to make decisions like he made bringing in Brothers (when he should have brought in Freeman, remember it was only 2-0, with runners on 1st and 2nd with 2 outs….a manageable deficit to come back from) like he did in the top of the 6th inning today…..I just dont see Snitker making it to The All Star Break.

The Braves will be fine when it comes to the top of their bullpen. Vizcaino and Minter will do fine sharing the 9th inning closing situations….Minter, Moylan, Freeman will be fine sharing the 8th inning situations. Moylan, Freeman and Winkler will all be effective when 7th inning duty warrants. The problem…comes when Carle and Brothers get called.

That is where AA will need to pay attention to how our arms in Triple A are doing (as well as the young bullpen pieces who are in Double A…like Watts, Graham and Clouse are doing). The Braves will need to develop arms that can come in and GET OUTS/put out fires during the 5th/6th innings (like today…..Brothers simply CANNOT be called upon in a 2-0 game!).

As far as 3rd base is concerned…I agree with AA not sacrificing a draft pick (and the associated signing bonus money) by signing Moustakis. I’d rather wait to see how this team does..ESPECIALLY once Acuna gets settled in and we see what kind of impact he has on this lineup.

Paul, baloney. Not Snitker’s fault. When you’re down and you’re changing pitchers in the 6th (not 7th-9th), the guy at Brother’s rung on the ladder is exactly who you bring in. The problem is with Brothers being on the roster instead of a better option. We needed one more top reliever. You may be right in that the reliever might already be in the system. I cannot figure out why they kept Rex over Biddle. Biddle was great at AA last year and during Spring (Rex and Carle tied for most HRs given up in Spring). When Gohara comes back, either Rex or Carle will go, more likely Carle since Rex is a lefty. When Camargo comes back an IF will have to go – Culberson or Flaherty. When Acuna comes up an OF will have to go – Adams or Bourjos (Tucker is a lefty). What that leaves is a need for a better reliever to replace whichever of Rex/Carle is left on the active roster and a better 3B so that Camargo can be the Super Util. There were guys on the market that could play 3B that didn’t cost a draft pick like Frazier or Walker or Nunez (even Mark Reynolds or Danny Valencia would bring power and could be had on minor league deals, but would not be good fielders) all of which could be had on cheap one or two year contracts.

Roger…like it or not, AA cleared out a lot of payroll obligations for 2019, by trading Kemp to The Dodgers. Do you know how much money The Braves are paying to players NO LONGER with The Braves for 2018? $32 mil! The Braves are responsible for $16 mil each for Scott Kazmir AND Adrian Gonzalez (The Dodgers sent $5 mil of AD’s $21 mil 2018 salary). With the dead money, The Braves payroll is approaching $130 mil for 2018. Like it or not….AA has to look pretty much either from within the organization for help OR players off the scrap yard that cost very little (like Bourjos and Flaherty).

The decision to keep/use Rex Brothers…is simply BAFFLING. Dude has had a CONSISTENT ERA of 7.25 (whether it is during The Regular Season OR Spring Training). Sure, he can strike out a few batters…but he also walks a lot AND he gives up MONSTER HOME RUNS! The Braves have 2 lefties in the bullpen in Minter and Freeman. Sure, it would be NICE to have 3…but we DO NOT (at least, SHOULD NOT….because Brothers SUCKS).

Brothers must either have some ‘blackmail material’ on someone that allows him to have a job in MLB….OR he provides ‘some other service’ that no one knows about, lol. Either way..THE ONLY time I want to see Brothers in a game..is when it’s A BLOW OUT! The 6th inning yesterday….WAS NOT the time to bring that SCRUB (with the 7.25 ERA) in the game!

Rodger,

I agree with you–Julio pitched way better than 5.2 with 4 runs. I thought he had a really good outing, but the numbers look like he had his head bashed in. I hope Folty, McCarty and Nuke can each get started well. One thing about Nuke–he has gotten better every quater with the braves. Fingers crossed. I know its a bummer about not picking up a decent 3rd when so many were so cheap. I hope Carmargo and Tucker(rf) break out–or Neck hits 45 and drives in 145. (either way)

Best Player: Freddie (just cause you know his last year being that for the Braves)
Best Pitcher(MLB now): Minter
sorry: Nuke
Minors: Soroka/Touki
Biggest Surprise: Dansby rebound (wishful thinking and the most important person to the turn around if everyone else like Albies and Acunator etc just keep rising)
Biggest Disappointment: Gohara (I think he might not get on track this year)
Bold Prediction: I think Pache will be a top 10 talent pretty quickly–so next would be Touki makes it to the majors this year. ( a Gohara rise)
Record: 87 wins and 1 game out of the 2nd wild card…….nah we get the 2nd wild card.

Best Player: I’m going with Freeman. I know Acuna’s going to be really, really good. However, I do think ML pitchers are going to find ways to get him out eventually, and he’ll have to learn to adjust- as everyone does. Freeman’s got the track record, and I’m going to put my chips there.

Best Pitcher: Mike Foltynewicz, over the course of a full season. And that’s not to say I’m expecting a lot from him. I just feel like he’ll be the most consistently solid performer this year.

Biggest Surprise: AJ Minter. We already know he’s good, so maybe this is cheating a bit- but I think he’s going to be astonishingly good.

Biggest Disappointment: The black hole that is 3B. Ruiz is terrible, Flaherty’s only a notch above that; and Riley’s not ready, even if he continues to progress. And what’s left is a collection of utility players, in my view- which includes Camargo.

Bold Prediction: The Braves have one All-Star- Ozzie Albies. Sure, Freeman’s going to have the better season. The 1B pool is deep though, and Freddie’s numbers are probably going to be down compared to the Goldschmidts and Vottos of the world, because the order around him is weaker. So I think Albies will get a nod for a very solid 1st half.

Record: 76-86, and 4th place in the NL East.

I think that Acuna’s presence in The Braves Lineup is going to have more of a positive impact..than most realize. Just looking at Ozzie Albies’ impact (his ability to hit for power, average AND draw the walk…..puts PRESSURE/causes STRESS on the opposing pitcher ESPECIALLY with Freddie hitting behind him). I feel that Acuna is going to be the type of player that DOES NOT struggle during his Rookie Year (the great ones…dont)!

Not only will Acuna EASILY win The 2018 National League Rookie of The Year Award…he will finish in The Top 10 of The 2018 National League MVP Voting!

While Acuna went 19 for 44 during Spring Training..he started off 0 for 7 (there’s your ‘making adjustments’). Also, at EVERY stop (from Class A to Triple A) in 2017, Acuna had plenty of chances to ‘make adjustments’. He did the same at The AFL during the fall last year.

Acuna’s presence in The Braves Line-up..will cause even more STRESS to the opposing pitcher. Other hitters will benefit….because they will get MEATBALL pitches to hit once ‘the stressful at-bats are over’.

When Gohara comes back, The Braves wont have very long to wait, until Soroka, Allard and possibly Wright are ready to join The Braves Rotation (presenting AA with some ‘interesting’ decisions).

Either way, I predicted yesterday that The Braves would finish this season with a record of 88-74 (whether that is good enough to win The Wild Card..will depend on how DESPERATE other teams are to get it…meaning that they may make trades that SACRIFICE their future, getting them ‘ammunition’ in return to put them past 88 wins for 2018). No matter what happens…AA should stay pat when it comes to our prospects! These guys are OUR FUTURE (meaning that they will be ESSENTIAL to keeping future payrolls down AND extending our window of winning down the line)!

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