Say you’re the GM of a MLB team. How many of the players likely to be on Braves 25-man roster would you pursue in a trade?
Freddie. Dansby. Inciarte. Julio. Folty. Maybe Jim Johnson or Aroldys?
Compare that to the Nats or Mets and you’ll a sense of how far this Braves team has to go before they’re ready to contend.
A lot has to go right for Cobb County’s flagship franchise just to finish .500. Matt Kemp has to hit like he did for Atlanta over a full season and walk more than 36 times. Ender has to avoid injury (he’s never played more than 132 games in a season). Nick Markakis needs to slug north of .400. Folty needs to approach 200 IP. Jim Johnson must be consistent and Julio must be Julio. And Jaime Garcia needs to pitch like he did in 2015, avoiding injury. In fact, the whole team needs to stay healthy because the Braves have woeful depth.
If all that happens, then .500 is a reasonable goal. Unfortunately, expecting all those things to happen is unreasonable.
Here’s what to expect:
Like last year, the Braves will finish better than they start, due mostly to a schedule that has them on the road for 17 of their first 24 games, including two series in Flushing.
Freddie approaches a .950 OPS, just shy of last year’s career-best numbers.
Well-below league average production from third base and catcher;
.280-.355.-418 for Dansby, roughly the same for Ender;
.270-.330-.480 for Kemp;
180 IP, 3.7 ERA for Folty, though strikeouts a shade below what you’d expect;
JJ saves 35;
Newcomb debuts, erratically;
Lucas Sims and A.J. Minter join the ‘pen, which won’t be as strong as we had hoped;
Ozzie Albies displaces Brandon Phillips at All-Star break;
Phillips sulks, refuses to lift no-trade;
Rio Ruiz displaces Adonis, draws comparisons to Jeff Treadway.
Attendance: 2.7 million, highest since 2007