Last year I had the Braves winning 64; CD guessed 66. They won 67, but they won’t win that much in 2016.
They have the worst starting pitching in baseball. The everyday line-up features little speed or power. The defense is pedestrian. The bullpen figures to be decent, at least.
Going forward, I’m not as bullish about the Braves future as most. Of all the young pitchers they’ve collected, none project as an ace. Offensively, Albies, Swanson and Mallex Smith will add a lot, but power will remain lacking. Normally you can find a LF or RF with some pop on the trade market, but Markakis and Olivera stand in the way.
And the fans will notice, or, more accurately, won’t notice. For the first time since 1990, the Braves won’t reach 2 million in attendance, despite numerous ill-conceived promotions.
Company man Jim Powell will expend 9,371 minutes of air time gushing about The Mallpark, pleasing his corporate overlords, as ever.
Speaking of, we’ll hear more talk of Liberty selling the team but nothing will come of it due to concerns about the clusterfuck surrounding said Mallpark.
The good news: Fredi won’t be in the dugout this time next year.
As for the rest of the NL:
St. Louis won’t make the playoffs this year. But it will be the Pirates, not the Cubs, who unseat them as division champs. The Cubs and Mets will square off in the play-in game. Washington wins the East, the Giants win the West. The Dodgers will watch the playoffs from home.
NL Pennant: Pirates
As for the AL:
Toronto repeats in the East, Cleveland in the Central and the Rangers in the West. Tampa and the Royals square off in the Wild Card. Houston’s pitching is thin and, once again, the Red Sox are overrated.
AL Pennant: Indians
World Series winner: Pittsburgh