Last year, Fantasy Baseball owners were thoroughly disappointed by the production they got from the recently acquired B.J. Upton. With the letdown and the hole that B.J. Upton left in the lineup with his lackluster performance, other players emerged and broke on to the scene.
Evan Gattis and Chris Johnson had career years and both established themselves as valuable Fantasy commodities. The front three in the rotation were solid: Mike Minor, Kris Medlen, and Julio Teheran.
Upton, Heyward, and Freddie Freeman lived up to expectations and are all still very highly regarded. Dan Uggla continued to struggle in a Braves uniform and Andrelton Simmons continued his dismal offensive game. If only defensive metrics mattered in Fantasy Baseball.
The Braves were an all-around solid team, Fantasy-wise, and on the field. Hence, the playoff berth. They did lose two key players, however, as Brian McCann and Tim Hudson, who have been staples in the organization, departed. Despite the subtractions, expect very much the same, as the young, talented team should produce again in 2014.
Projected 2014 Atlanta Braves “Go-To” Lineup
- RF Jayson Heyward, Age 24
- LF Justin Upton, Age 26
- 1B Freddie Freeman, Age 24
- C Evan Gattis, Age 27
- 3B Chris Johnson, Age 29
- SS Andrelton Simmons, Age 24
- 2B Dan Uggla, Age 33
- CF B.J. Upton, Age 29
Projected Starting Rotation
- Mike Minor, LHP, Age 26
- Kris Medlen, RHP, Age 28
- Julio Teheran, RHP, Age 22
- Brandon Beachy, RHP, Age 27
- Alex Wood, LHP, Age 23
Fantasy Studs: Freddie Freeman, Justin Upton
Two guys on the Braves that won’t have a problem being selected in the early rounds this year are Freeman and Upton. Freeman has hit 20-plus home runs in each of his first three full seasons as a starter. What’s really encouraging with him is the fact that his AVG and OBP finally rose enough to warrant MVP consideration.
Upton, on the other hand, had what some would consider a down year in his first year with the Braves. Yes, some might point to his .263 average last year as a reason to pass on him in the early rounds, but his OBP was right around his career average. If someone told me that in a down year, a guy could still blast 27 home runs, I would not be scared to take that guy in the early rounds. His average will be higher this coming year, and he will still have all the power potential.
If for some reason, one of these two is still there towards the middle rounds, be happy with your Draft Day steal. (by Paul Kemper)
Breakout Candidate: Alex Wood
The Atlanta Braves have four of their five starting pitcher spots decided and ready to go. The other spot will be decided in Spring Training along with many other bench positions. Alex Wood has the potential to become a breakout star this year and showed glimpses of it last year.
At the ripe age of 23 years old, Wood is perfectly on track for a breakout season. In 2013, he recorded an ERA of 3.13 to go with 77 strikeouts over 77.2 innings pitched. He slowed down towards the end of the year due in large part to fatigue, but he should be healthy and 100 percent come April.
Wood is the clear favorite for the fifth starting pitcher spot and could be a very good late-round pick up in your draft. Heck, he could drop so far that you might be able to pick him up off waivers to immediately make an impact for your team. He only pitched 77 innings of work, but that will surely rise if he is given the five spot. He has the potential to get upwards of 150 strikeouts. (by Travis Riechers)
Sleeper Candidates: Mike Minor, Andrelton Simmons
Minor pitched 204.2 innings with a 13-9 record, a 3.21 ERA, 181 strikeouts to 46 walks in 2013. CBS Sports is projecting 210 IP, a 16-8 record, a 3.39 ERA, a WHIP of 1.13, and 191 strikeouts, so this guy could be a solid sleeper for your Fantasy team. He had an up and down year putting up Fantasy points, but the outlook is solid for Minor.
Simmons had a .248 average, 17 home runs and 59 RBI last season, but he could improve upon those numbers in 2014. He’s only 24, so he could have a lot of upside potential. He showed some pop with 17 home runs last year, which won’t wow the stats people. That possibly could go up in 2014, as he’s still young, though. (by Conor Frederick)
Bust Candidate: Chris Johnson
Chris Johnson hit for a rigorous clip of .321/.358/.457 with 12 home runs in 2013, producing above average on base and power numbers. His production has improved yearly in both facets of offensive performance, which leads people to speculate that Johnson will continue his upwards trend. Looking deeper into it, do not expect Johnson to be anywhere close to the raw numbers he compiled in 2013.
The reason is Johnson accumulated a .394 BABIP (batting average on balls in play). That number was the highest in the league, and it is at an unsustainable rate. Johnson’s career BABIP before the anomaly in 2013 was around .340. His regression in BABIP will turn into fewer hits, therefore, fewer points. On top of the decline in offensive performance, Johnson has never accumulated high home run, RBI, and run totals, which are vital for Fantasy Baseball. It would be wise to pursue other third basemen who are regarded as the same caliber, and watch someone else overrate the 29-year-old. (by Patrick Green)
Top Rookies: Christian Bethancourt
If the Atlanta Braves have one “name of the future” to keep an eye out for it would definitely be Christian Bethancourt. He is regarded as one of the best fielding catchers in the minors and has the chance to transition that into Major League success. He is only 22 years old and has been giving an invite to Spring Training. The knock on Bethancourt is that his bat is not up to the level of his glove yet and while that may be true, if he hits during Spring Training, he will make the team. Last year, at Double-A Mississippi, he hit .277 with a .305 OBP. He hit 12 home runs, scored 42 runs and drove in 45.
Once his bat catches up to his other skills, this guy is going to become a household name. Keep an eye out for this him during Spring Training because if he makes the team, then you might just see some hidden Fantasy value pop up. (by Travis Riechers)
What You Should Know
Love (Rotation Potential): This team contains one of the best young rotations in the game. The staff has the potential and the success in the minors to think that this staff could break out collectively and form one of the top rotations in the league.
Like (Athleticism): The Braves possess a whole lot of young, athletic players on their team. Guys like Simmons, both Uptons, and Heyward should swipe a lot of bags this season. Their value on the base paths will be apparent when the season rolls around.
Dislike (Youth): Though youth can be a good thing, it also can be a bad thing. The presence of veteran leadership can do wonders for a group of young players, which the Braves do not have an abundance of — especially with the departure of McCann and Hudson. The lack of experience could prove to be an issue, and that is something to be cautious about in 2014.
Hate (Contracts that don’t quite pan out): The Braves paid big money to acquire B.J. Upton and Dan Uggla and they have done nothing, but disappoint the organization. These guys who had high hopes, but they ended up screwing Fantasy owners that spent early picks on these busts. These “established veterans” will not live up to the hype again in 2014. (by Patrick Green)
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This 2014 Atlanta Braves preview comes courtesy of ProSportsExtra.com. We are an up and coming website comprised of some of the best sports minds in the world. Four of our MLB writers took part in participating in this: Conor Frederick (@ConorJF1016), Paul Kemper (@kempstreet), Travis Riechers (@BravesFanatic33), and Patrick Green (@UltimateSoxsFan).