Atlanta Braves 2019 Season Preview: Fantasy Analysis
2018 Record: 90-72
Projected 2019 Record: 84-78
2018 Recap & 2019 Team Outlook
The Braves are a team on the rise, and after years of subpar play, they are loaded with young talent. Freddie Freeman had a healthy 2018, and this team won 90 games making the postseason. They are in a very tough division with Washington retooling and Bryce Harper just moving a city away. The Mets are also an interesting team, making the NL East a tough division to play in. Pitching seems to be the biggest question mark, and if the health that is already giving them scares continues, they might slip in the division. With the addition of Josh Donaldson, and another year of Acuna/Albies/Freeman, their offense should be the strong point of the team.
Signing Josh Donaldson to a big one year deal was a low risk, high reward signing. He has big upside and gives them a power right-handed bat, but he has also not been durable over the last few seasons. Having Johan Camargo is the perfect contingency plan if he does hit the DL. With no pitching signings, they are relying on the youth arms to have above average seasons. However, if names like Mike Foltynewicz and Kevin Gausman are not healthy, there will be big problems. With the teams around them improving as well, questions will be asked if they bolstered their team enough.
Braves Starting Pitching
Coming into the season this was the glaring weakness. Not that these were bad arms, but most of these names have pitched closer to average than above average. Gausman did perform better getting out of the American League East, but is not a leading man. Foltynewicz had a very strong year, but the Braves need him to stay healthy and keep improving. Julio Teheran has been around for a while, and his velocity continues to drop. With the flyballs and hard-contact, it is hard to see him having a helpful year for the Braves. They do have some young arms in Touki Toussaint and Sean Newcomb. If they can get above average production out of them, they can propel them to the next level. Mike Soroka is also in contention for drawing more starts soon.
The Atlanta bullpen will need to take a step upwards, as they ranked in the middle of the league in most bullpen categories. Arodys Vizcaino is a stout closer, but leading up to him can be rocky. A.J. Minter is another talented name from this bullpen, who touches upper 90s in his fastball range. Consistency needs to be more of a focus for this group of arms. The potential is there, and the one plus is that other bullpens in the division are more on their level.
Freddie Freeman was the lone ranger for the longest time in Atlanta, but now he has some backup. Ronald Acuna and Ozzie Albies are two names that now can drink legally. They both bring speed and power, making this an exciting lineup for the future. Acuna and Albies both project to be 20-20 guys in 2019, and with Freeman mixed in between, this is going to be a great group. With the addition of Donaldson, there is now another power bat from the right side. After Donaldson got traded to Cleveland, he posted a 149 wRC+.
If we get back on track, Atlanta can rival some other teams front four hitters. In terms of the back half of the order, they have more contact based outfielders. Tyler Flowers also still remains a quality catcher at the plate. They don’t have the platoon with Kurt Suzuki anymore, but Brian McCann is back where it all started.
Braves Projected Lineup
- Ender Inciarte
- Josh Donaldson
- Freddie Freeman
- Ronald Acuna
- Nick Markakis
- Ozzie Albies
- Dansby Swanson
- Tyler Flowers
2019 Noteworthy Fantasy Pitchers
Mike Foltynewicz – If we get a fully healthy Foltynewicz, then we are getting a potential ace in the making. He already took a massive stride last season, upping his strikeout rate by about 7%. His velocity went up last season, and he increased his slider usage. With positive trends in those departments, the strikeouts followed. There is risk given the spring injury news, but it doesn’t seem to be as bad as indicated. We need to keep a close eye, but Folty is looking to be the name you should grab if you missed out on that first tier of starters.
Kevin Gausman – After Folty, the Braves went out and landed Gausman. He struggled at times in Baltimore, and a drop in BABIP helped his numbers in Atlanta. His ERA estimators were a lot higher than the 2.87 ERA he posted over ten Atlanta starts. Because of this, we shouldn’t expect some huge swing to continue in his ERA. Gausman for his ADP is going to still be somewhat valuable, because he is going to eat innings.
2019 Noteworthy Fantasy Hitters
Ronald Acuna – The NL East features two premier up and coming young outfielders. One of them is Ronald Acuna. With a high .352 BABIP, his average should sit in the upper .270 range, and a full season projects him to hit the 30 HR mark. He also has potential to steal 20+ bases. Acuna is going to contribute across the board for a long time.
Freddie Freeman – Freddie Freeman is top three in first basemen rankings, and with help around him it has driven up peripheral stats. He doesn’t have the power numbers of some of the others at the position, but nearly 200 R + RBI and 25 HR with his average is always strong.