The worst thing that could happen to the Braves is that they have a surprisingly successful major league season due to some fluky, last-gasp performances from their veterans. Winning roughly 77 games could drop them out of the top ten in the draft, and their pick subsequently wouldn’t be protected, limiting their ability to make free-agent upgrades for their move to their new ballpark next season.
A repeat of the 1990 season would be ideal, and it’s a safe bet to happen. The Braves, en route to 65 wins, finished 4-13 in April, and we should expect something similar next month, with the Nats (twice), Cards, Dodgers, Mets, Red Sox and Cubs on the schedule. My bet? 7-17.
As bad as 65-97 sounds, 1990 ended on a optimistic note. Rookie David Justice hit 28 HR with a .908 OPS. Ron Gant slugged 34 doubles, 32 homers and stole 33 bases. Glavine and Smoltz continued to establish themselves and Steve Avery’s potential tantalized.
And then came the most enjoyable season Atlanta Braves fans will ever now. I’m not predicting a repeat in 2017 — with the possible exception of Dansby Swanson, there are no Gants or Justices on the horizon, and depth trumps talent on the pitching front.
Poor roster construction is another detriment to a quick rebuild, as Nick Markakis and Hector Olivera occupy traditional power positions.
But 2017 will definitely be better. In fact, the second half of 2016 should at least be interesting. It’s the next three months that are going to be brutal.