Are Braves really second-worst team in majors (thank you, Philly)?

Fredi Gonzalez’s team isn’t expected to accomplish much, according to forecasts. (Curtis Compton, AJC)

Fredi Gonzalez's team isn't expected to accomplish much, according to forecasts. (Curtis Compton, AJC)

Fredi Gonzalez’s team isn’t expected to accomplish much, according to forecasts. (Curtis Compton, AJC)The Braves’ open the season in six days. This generally is the time when everybody makes their predictions for the year, which as a general rule aren’t any more reliable than the predictions that were made in December, January or February

You’ve probably noticed that phrases like “pennant contender” and “World Series darkhorse”and “Washington could be in trouble in the East” are missing from Braves’ forecasts. Most sports handicappers have the team winning about 73 games, or losing about 89, depend on your glass half-full/empty perspective.

That seems about right. I can’t say anything that happened in spring training made me think, “Wow! Let me re-evaluate.” But I’m guessing like everybody else.

But until now, I hadn’t seen a set of predictions that stated the Braves were the second-worst team in baseball. That’s the estimation of ESPN’s Buster Olney, who’s probably the best baseball writer in the nation.

In a column on ESPN’s “Insider” section, Olney ranks all 30 major league teams, with very brief analysis. The Braves are ranked 29th, ahead of only Philadelphia. So there’s your bright spot: He doesn’t think the Braves will finish last in the National League East.

I’ve excerpted Olney’s piece, with his projected top five teams overall and all five teams from the N.L. East:

1. Washington Nationals: The Nationals will have a relatively significant list of injuries to start the season with Denard Span down, and perhaps Anthony Rendon and Jayson Werth. But their rotation is intact, and that’s what matters most.

2. Los Angeles Dodgers: Their bullpen issues will be acute at the outset of the season, and Don Mattingly may be scrambling for solutions until Kenley Jansen returns from the disabled list. With Hyun-Jin Ryu down, L.A. is thin in its rotation depth, in theoretical starters Nos. 6-8. But the rest of the team has rounded into form.

3. Seattle Mariners: The Mariners should have a much deeper lineup, not only with the addition of Nelson Cruz but also with the outfield platoon options they have developed.

4. Pittsburgh Pirates: Andrew McCutchen appears to be a go for the start of the season, and that is what matters most.

5. St. Louis Cardinals: The rotation was the biggest question mark going into spring training, and it looks like all is good. Jason Heyward has been working on his hitting mechanics since early spring, trying to put himself in a position to be more free-flowing in his movement, and soon the Cardinals will see how that work translates in games.

7. Miami Marlins: Folks with other teams wondered at the outset of spring training how Giancarlo Stanton would react on pitches inside, in his first action after being hit in the face by a Mike Fiers fastball last spring. Well, so far, so good: He’s got five doubles, three homers and 11 RBIs in his first 40 at-bats of spring.

16. New York Mets: Matt Harvey has been a spring beast and Michael Cuddyer looks great, and if this team starts well, it’ll be really interesting to see whether ownership steps up and makes an aggressive offer for Troy Tulowitzki or some other needed piece.

29. Atlanta Braves: The Braves need time, now that they’ve reconstructed their roster with an eye toward 2017 and the opening of their new ballpark, and they also need the players acquired in their offseason trades to translate. As the Oakland Athletics have shown, it’s one thing to go through a roster turnover, but a different matter entirely in picking the right players.

30. Philadelphia Phillies: They need more talent. Lots of it. Which is why the front office must hope and pray that Cole Hamels — the organization’s most valuable commodity — remains healthy and successful for the next few months so it can flip him for a lump of talent.

Do you agree with Olney’s assessment? I’ve added a poll to the blog. Check whether you believe the Braves’ will rank among the best five records in the majors, sixth to 10th, etc.

 


Some recent ramblings from the digital jukebox
— AJC: Falcons will pay appropriate penalties for dumb decision
— MyAJC: Paul Millsap: The 6-8 kid who couldn’t dunk now leading Hawks
— AJC: Hawks clinch East, act like it’s no big deal (which is probably good)
— MyAJC: NBA needs to curtail resting of players
— AJC: Will Falcons, others avoid losing draft picks this year?
— MyAJC: Basketball is where Georgia State’s focus should be
— AJC: New reality at Georgia State: What Ron Hunter wants, he gets
— MyAJC: Hawks get drilled, and concerns may be growing
— MyAJC: Georgia better but still not where it needs to be
— AJC: Mark Fox returns subtle fire at Brian Gregory before tournament
— MyAJC: Gregory knows he needs to make most of his extended lifeline
— AJC: Gregory says he gave Izzo ‘everything’ he has on Georgia
— AJC: Timing is everything, as Tech keeps Gregory
— AJC: Tech expected to keep Gregory, but former coach (Hewitt) fired again
— MyAJC: Column on Quinn, Dimitroff defending moves, philosophy
— AJC: Exclusive: Q&A with Quinn, Dimitroff on Falcons’ moves
— MyAJC: Tech’s candidate pool may be thin if Gregory fired
— AJC: Tech’s decision on Brian Gregory tougher than you might think
— MyAJC: Georgia erratic but ceiling high in tournament
— AJC: NCAA tourney: Dogs should be in, Panthers must do a little more
— MyAJC: Georgia State at center of state’s hoops’ rebirth
— AJC: Jim Boeheim’s arrogance catches up to him
— AJC: Erving says Hawks should do better job embracing their history
— MyAJC: Hank Aaron knows exactly how Dominique Wilkins feels
— MyAJC: Despite loss, Fox has Georgia pointed in right direction
— AJC: Mark Fox deserved contract extension (which he finally signed)
— AJC: Falcons, Ndamukong Suh and waiting on fake noise penalty
— AJC: Falcons’ payroll slash continues — Blalock, Douglas released
— AJC: Steven Jackson expected to be missing piece, but he wasn’t
— MyAJC: Can Kevin Seitzer avoid being Braves’ next scapegoat
— AJC: Freeman on ’14 roster: Heyward leading off not well-constructed lineup
— MyAJC: By any name, Braves need a different Upton
— AJC: How long should Braves give Upton to show improvement?
— MyAJC: Braves have issues but McDowell not one of them

 

Reader Comments 0

93 comments
RafeHollister
RafeHollister

Preseason polls and prognostications are about as useful as a leaky rubber boot.  Injuries or the lack there of usually play a significant part in the success/failure of these teams.   Good moves at the trade deadline can be the boost a team needs to get over the top.  Players having a career year, or a rookie breaking out explosively,  suddenly put their team into contention.  None of those things are known at this point in the season.  


Play ball!

59bulldawg
59bulldawg

Just got back from watching the team in Florida. They will be fun to watch this season and will win between 82-85 games. Not serious contenders by any means but not the stinkers a lot of folks expect. The Mets and the Marlins look much improved though so the Braves might indeed still end up next to last in the NL East. But I think Hart has done a great job so far!

PalmBeachFalcon
PalmBeachFalcon

@59bulldawg I don't get the love that the Mets are getting in the media.  Harvey is without a doubt an ace, but beyond him? A declining Wright? Granderson?  Just how good is last year's ROY, DeGromme?

Wilbo
Wilbo

@59bulldawg What exactly is going to be fun about watching them?


I agree it will be a real soopah doopah thrill if you like seeing a not very good minor league team with baseball's dopiest manager making a weak effort to compete against actual MLB teams. Man, oh, man! That sounds absolutely scintillating.

Earhardnt_Fan
Earhardnt_Fan

U no I thing the Barves will do realy good this year I bet they finnish is fist palce....LOLOLOLO!!!!! April foll!!!

HUDDYS1FAN
HUDDYS1FAN

The more I read, the more I realize how little the so called "professional pundits" understand about baseball.


The Braves didn't rebuild, they traded three players. They did however reconstruct their entire offensive philosophy. The 2015 Braves are built around pitching, defense and getting on base. The first two: pitching and defense are correct for winning baseball. The only question is? can they score enough runs to support their pitching?


Personally I think the pundits are wrong. No that this team is playoff worthy because they clearly are not. They are however better than last years team. I know this because 2014 witnessed the worst offense in 25 years. So, to expect the same simply because of the subtraction of three HR bats is misguided at best. HR's are no longer the cat's meow, PED's are almost completely gone and OBP is king again.


This 2015 team will get on base, they will move runners over, steal bases, hit and run, be aggressive on the base paths and create opportunities to score. The only real problem is the lack of another proven RBI bat behind Freddie Freeman. However, I expect the rest of the other eight guys to step up.


I said all that to say this, this team has the potential to win. 80-85 wins at best, no worse than .500 which will be a moral victory. Although the pundits will consider it a failure because they will not reach the post season.

SkokieDog
SkokieDog

@HUDDYS1FAN I hope you're not suggesting that the "boppers" on last season's team were using PEDs. If they were, they didn't get their money's worth.

Wilbo
Wilbo

@HUDDYS1FAN Atlanta Braves stealing bases in 2015? Put down the crack pipe, son!

Zapp
Zapp

Really!!  A new ballpark will make them play better.  We got the shaft again, but this time by Liberty Communications (who the heck is that?).  I hope that commissioner in Cobb finds his way into federal courts for racketeering.  Cobb can't afford to pay teachers and they drops hundreds of millions on an albatross team.  This is what's wrong with government.

DrPhill
DrPhill

Markakas was batting .105 tonight. Is it possible that he will be worse than the player previously known as BJ? Gattis was batting around .350 yesterday and Heyward is hitting .333 and playing almost every game. Wandy Rodriguez is this season's 9-13 reclaimation project. Fredi is, well still Fredi. But, we're going to have a state-of-the-art stadium worthy of Walt Disney World. Thanks, Cobb County taxpayers.

JeffCriswell
JeffCriswell

I am think Kelly Johnson makes the team. He's been solid. Can play 2nd and 3rd. I think he's going to make the team. 

Kwajbraves
Kwajbraves

This team was assemble to get a top 5 draft pick but a least they are going to be more interesting and enjoyable. :). 

they may hit 70 wins, blame it on the Hats. didn't like them in the 70's don't like them now.

58Supersports
58Supersports

It will be interesting come July trade deadline. I bet Braves will be sellers... The old players may be great in club house but you don't win games in the clubhouse. Would rather have future kid playing and finish win 70 wins than finish with 80 wins and old farts playing. We will see, I hope Braves do well but we still have a manager problem..

PalmBeachFalcon
PalmBeachFalcon

@58Supersports Braves have a couple of good bullpen pieces to trade on July 31.  Johnson and Grilli should net us a couple of decent prospects.  Solid signings.

emily16
emily16

I work at Turner field looks like it's going to be an easy season for the game day employees.

SkokieDog
SkokieDog

@emily16 ...and you shouldn't have a problem finding parking near the gates

MrPotatoHead
MrPotatoHead

This team will be dismal at best this season, after gutting it earlier this year to save money. The pitching rotation will have break downs as the season goes on, which always happens and this will only swell the loss column. Attendance will drop off markedly as the season progress's and the losses pile up, they'll be lucky to draw 10,000 or 12,000 a game . Management shouldn't expect people to pay up to watch this train wreck. They think we should just accept this mess until 2017 rolls around and things get better, but there's no guarantee that will happen either. If there was something worse than last place the Braves would fill it.

Birdfanforlife
Birdfanforlife

The braves won 79 games last year with the worst offense I have ever seen. Why would they win less with this group. I predict 85 wins because they have good pitching and a great closer. Also, they will score runs on a more consistent bases giving the team a shot at winning more often.  

gaboy983
gaboy983

@Birdfanforlife  Braves pitching finished in the top 5 last year but the offense was bottom 3.  A great Closer doesn't do a lot of good if you can't score runs.  They'll win fewer games because they replaced Upton's 2.70 BA and 29hrs with Gomes 2.34 and 6hr( if we're lucky).  Heyward defense is gone and an aging Markakis will probably have worse numbers. Pierzynski is 38 and had a 2.50 BA last year.....how is that better?  They didn't win last year because they couldn't score so they brought in more players that can't get on base.

GwinnettDad
GwinnettDad

Here's a bet. The 2015 Braves will outscore the 2014 Braves by 50 runs. They will be 20th in scoring runs rather than 29th. All those big names were just big names last year - offensively the team sucked. They'll score 50 more runs than in 2014. That's how bad they were.

gaboy983
gaboy983

@GwinnettDad  I would take that bet....no way they finish better than 25th in runs scored.  I also don't believe that they will score 50 runs more. As a matter of fact if either of those things happen or if Jonny Gomes bats higher than 2.25 I'll donate $1000 to the charity of your choice.  Post it here I'll check back later.

7576DAWG
7576DAWG

Where the Braves will end up in 2015 will all depend on what their pitching does. I agree with most of the pitching changes except keeping Minor . I think he is injury prone and will never be a reliable starter. 

Everything the Braves did this year was to get ready for 2017 opening of the new stadium. They will make more changes this year and complete the changes in 2016. By then I hope we have 5 starters we can depend on, but Minor will not be one of them.

FarTrain
FarTrain

The Braves will not be second wurst, they will be furst wurst, you know like bratswurst.  They will be the "sausage dogs" of the league. They will stink so bad even the Cobb Co. taxpayers who are so naive and gullible will be protesting that they not be allowed to come to Cobb Co.  

We_Will_Get_Fooled_Again
We_Will_Get_Fooled_Again

The Braves' pitching is too good for them to be the second-worst team in the league. On nights when the Braves can scratch out three or four runs -- and they really will have to scratch them out this year -- they should have a fair chance to win.

Right now, I'd peg the Braves at about 74-78 wins. I could even see them finishing a tick above .500 if enough of the X-factor guys like Johnson, Simmons, Peterson, and Minor have solid years.

CallMeStupid
CallMeStupid

This is a two year scramble to try to put together a winning team for opening day 2017.

TomGaff
TomGaff

I'm still pis-ed off about the three minor leaguers we got for folk hero Evan Gattis(aka White Bear)! All three will be in minors while Gattis(hitting .380 in exhibition season with Houston) is playing a decent LF. What a bunch of fools to let him go. We will finish DEAD last about 25 games behind the division leader Washington!

Wilbo
Wilbo

Well, the convenient thing is traditionally it was so confusing because you knew no matter how good they were during the season, the Braves were going to choke like dogs in October. Now, it's simpler because we all know there ain't gonna be an October and they'll stink the whole season through.


I have only 1 hope for the Atlanta Braves, and that is they play in front of a ballpark as empty as they have so thoroughly earned.


(Insert favorite vulgarity here) the Braves!

dawgfacedboy
dawgfacedboy

After all of the subtractions from last year's team and they are only going to lose 6 more games than they did last year????? I don't buy that for one second. They are going to be more like the Astros from a 3 or 4 years ago. I'm thinking more like 63 wins. Why would you even bother pitching to Freeman with the list of bums in the lineup??? Nobody in that lineup hits for a high avg (Freeman being the lone exception). We still don't have a legit ace on the staff.


6 games worse than last year!! HAHAAH!!! Somebody get me Vegas on the phone. I'll take the under and retire early.

candlin14
candlin14

Besides the Hawks right now, we have the worst General Management in all of professional sports between the Braves and Falcons. We ended up keeping Freddi G and 99 out of 100 fans wanted him fired. We ended up keeping Thomas Dimitrioff and 100 out 100 fans wanted him fired from the Falcons. The fans of Atlanta get slapped in the face every day putting up with these teams year in and year out. 


We gave up the future of the Braves and kept the cancer in Freddi Gonzalez. The Braves are a joke, they are the Buffalo Bills of baseball and even though I love watching them each and ever year, I despise their decision making!!! It was beyond pathetic watching our offense last year. It was beyond pathetic watching our pitcher hit 8th in the lineup. It was beyond pathetic having Jason Heyward lead off. It was beyond pathetic playing BJ Upton day in and day out and then keeping him for another year. WHAT MISERY ATLANTA SPORTS FANS HAVE TO DEAL WITH!!! 


We live up to the moto: "The Worst Sports Town in the USA" ALL DAY EVERYDAY!!!!

tmc
tmc

@candlin14 couldn't agree more! I root for the players in the uniforms in this town, but absolutely can not stand most of the management of our teams. Especially the Braves.
I also hope the TED is completely empty the entire year (and maybe next year) because I think that will be the ultimate message to the Braves brass by the fans.

The message: no to Fredi, no to BJ or Melvin (whatever), no to trading good players for minor league players and a big hellz no to the Braves brass!

HotDawg
HotDawg

Rome Braves and Gwinnett Braves might be more enjoyable to watch this year. 

PalmBeachFalcon
PalmBeachFalcon

@HotDawg I disagree.  This team will be more fun to watch than last year's.  This team will play hungry.  This will be an easy team to root for.

HotDawg
HotDawg

Some of that minor league talent better turn into major league talent quickly. 

Not be a bunch of Brad Komminsk types. Otherwise, the Braves turnaround could take a decade.

This team is looking like the 70's and mid-80's Braves. 

PalmBeachFalcon
PalmBeachFalcon

The Braves were NEXT TO LAST in MLB in runs scored last year.  This group can't do much worse.  There may be fewer souvenirs to those fans that sit between the foul poles, but this team will have more runners on base and score more runs, while striking out less.  The key is with the starting rotation.  I had big hopes for Minor this year.  I hope he's back soon

gfw
gfw

@PalmBeachFalcon Well said (i.e., I agree).  Of course, even if you and I are right, it doesn't mean we can be expected to reach the play-offs.

Curious_George
Curious_George

Was Buster Olney simply simply trying to imply the Braves have the 2nd-Worst *MANAGER*  in baseball heading into 2015, not necessarily meaning the team itself?





SkokieDog
SkokieDog

@Curious_George This is an interesting coincidence that you point out here: team's talent level and manager's capability (or lack thereof) seem to have settled into sync.

Moneyball
Moneyball

My 2 predictions for the 2015 Braves: (1) Look for them to lose 90 or more games and (2) Freddie Freeman will lead the majors in being left on base. 

SkokieDog
SkokieDog

@Moneyball I'm assuming that you refer to the likelihood that FF will be walked intentionally and often.

GWJ0525
GWJ0525

I think anything over 70 wins, and this team will have done better than I thought. If they break 80 wins, then I will admit that the folks running the Braves know more than I gave them credit for. What was the slogan in 88 when they lost 106 games? One crazy summer if my memory serves me right. This could be the worst year since that one, but hopefully not.