July 12, 2024

Despite the pessimism surrounding the inability to sign any significant free agents, ZiPS projections indicate that the Atlanta Braves as they currently stand are adequate.

It’s simple to become engrossed in the offseason activities, and it can be quite infuriating to watch other teams sign big names while your team does nothing.

But as Braves supporters, we must keep in mind that every baseball team is currently making an effort to catch up with them.

The Braves had the most complete baseball roster heading into the off season.

The back of the rotation is this team’s only true weakness, especially in light of the moves already made for the bullpen.

This past week saw the release of Fangraphs’ annual ZiPS projections by Dan Szymborski, which demonstrate why the Braves are already regarded as one of the best teams in 2024.

Braves Defensive ZiPS Estimates
Ronald Acuña Jr., the National League MVP, is expected to have a very good season with 43 home runs and 51 stolen bases.

Over a game, his projected WAR of 7.1 is greater than that of any other baseball player.

But Acuña isn’t the only one. Dan highlights in the article that even without him, this team’s lineup—which includes Ozzie Albies, Matt Olson, Austin Riley, Michael Harris II, and Sean Murphy—would rank among the best in baseball.

Marcell Ozuna’s 2023 rebound season is not anticipated by the projections, which call for him to hit 15 fewer home runs and a 20-point drop in batting average.

Additionally, they observe that Orlando Arcia has somewhat regressed following his unexpected All-Star campaign in 2023. Furthermore, the forecasts don’t support a breakthrough for recently acquired Jarred Kelenic. The only position that is predicted to be worth less than one win is left field.

obtain fewer than one victory. Of the two positions, center field had the lowest rating (3.8), partly because centerfielder Michael Harris II struggled early in the season and missed time.

This looks like it will be an elite offense again in 2024, regardless of what they get at shortstop and left field.

Braves Making ZiPS Forecasts
The starting rotation has received a lot of attention this offseason, but according to ZiPS, the rotation should be fine for 2024 at least with two four-win players at the top in Spencer Strider and Max Fried, and two two-win players in Charlie Morton and Bryce Elder.

Right now, the most important question is how to use the fifth starting spot.

Huascar Ynoa, AJ Smith-Shawver, and Reynaldo Lopez are all projected by ZiPS to be in the rotational lineup for one or two wins.

Allan Winans (4.34 ERA) and Ian Anderson (4.44 ERA) are also deserving contenders for that fifth spot based on their projections.

They are surprisingly low on AJ Smith-Shawver, projecting a 4.54 ERA over 101 innings. That’s not surprising at all, given that he’s only 21 years old and still needs to improve.

They have roughly the same projections for Hurston Waldrep, in case you were wondering.

Both Strider and Fried are predicted to have low three-run ERAs in the end, with Strider logging 234 strikeouts in 161.7 innings. It is anticipated that Morton and Elder will have low four ERAs in approximately 150 innings each.

The depth of the bullpen and the possibility that the projections are a little low are points raised by Dan. The bullpen is difficult to project collectively, in part because of the role that Lopez plays.

 

They are surprisingly low on AJ Smith-Shawver, projecting a 4.54 ERA over 101 innings. That’s not surprising at all, given that he’s only 21 years old and still needs to improve.

They have roughly the same projections for Hurston Waldrep, in case you were wondering.

Both Strider and Fried are predicted to have low three-run ERAs in the end, with Strider logging 234 strikeouts in 161.7 innings. It is anticipated that Morton and Elder will have low four ERAs in approximately 150 innings each.

On paper, this Braves team is incredibly talented right now and has a great chance to win 100 games for the third consecutive season.

However, as the previous two seasons have taught us, being the best on paper does not translate into anything come October.

Kindly read Dan’s piece, which includes some excellent projections for both minor league and major league players. Additionally, it offers a fun-to-look-at list of comps for every player.

(For example, a young Derek Jeter is one of Vaughn Grissom’s near-age offensive comparisons, and Frank Robinson, Willie Mays, and Mookie Betts in his early career are Ronald Acuña Jr.’s three closest near-age comparisons.)

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