clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

2016 Team Previews: Atlanta Braves

Throughout the long, cold offseason, I am doing team by team previews to get you ready for the 2016 fantasy baseball season. Today it's the Braves.

Cameron Maybin had lots to smile about in 2015. Can he do it again?
Cameron Maybin had lots to smile about in 2015. Can he do it again?
Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Welcome to my 2016 fantasy team previews. I will be breaking down 2016 prospects for the relevant fantasy players on all 30 teams, one team at a time. Check back throughout the offseason for new team previews. Because there are 30 teams to cover in limited time, I have to get started now, even though there will certainly be some trades that move players around and open up larger roles for existing players. Hopefully you can bear with me on those issues and remember that these were written before those trades occurred.

I am starting at the bottom of the standings and working my way up. In each team preview, I will attempt to follow the same layout. First, there will be two tables of stats for hitters followed by quick analysis of the most fantasy relevant of those hitters (relevance at my discretion). After that, two tables for the pitching stats and some pitcher analysis. I will then present one breakout player (aka sleeper) and one breakdown player (or bust, if you prefer) for the team. Got it? Ok, let's get started.

Atlanta Braves

Hitters

Name Position PA HR R RBI SB CS BB% K% AVG OBP SLG
Freddie Freeman 1B 481 18 62 66 3 1 11.60% 20.40% 0.276 0.370 0.471
Juan Uribe 3B 167 7 17 17 1 0 9.00% 22.20% 0.285 0.353 0.464
Adonis Garcia OF*, 3B 198 10 20 26 0 0 2.50% 17.70% 0.277 0.293 0.497
A.J. Pierzynski C 436 9 38 49 0 2 4.40% 8.50% 0.300 0.339 0.43
Kelly Johnson 1B, 2B, 3B*, OF 197 9 20 34 1 1 6.60% 21.80% 0.275 0.321 0.451
Nick Markakis OF 686 3 73 53 2 1 10.20% 12.10% 0.296 0.370 0.376
Nick Swisher 1B*, OF 149 4 8 17 0 0 18.10% 20.10% 0.195 0.349 0.339
Cameron Maybin OF 555 10 65 59 23 6 8.10% 18.40% 0.267 0.327 0.37
Jonny Gomes OF 228 7 27 22 1 1 12.30% 29.40% 0.221 0.325 0.364
Andrelton Simmons SS 583 4 60 44 5 3 6.70% 8.20% 0.265 0.321 0.338
Jace Peterson 2B, SS* 597 6 55 52 12 10 9.40% 20.10% 0.239 0.314 0.335
Eury Perez OF 133 0 10 5 3 1 5.30% 17.30% 0.269 0.331 0.303
Pedro Ciriaco SS*, 3B 151 1 14 15 4 2 1.30% 25.20% 0.261 0.275 0.352
Daniel Castro 2B, SS* 100 2 14 5 0 0 3.00% 15.00% 0.240 0.263 0.344
Chris Johnson 3B 162 2 12 11 2 1 4.30% 30.20% 0.235 0.272 0.32
Michael Bourn OF 156 0 10 11 4 2 10.90% 19.90% 0.221 0.303 0.257
Alberto Callaspo 1B*, 2B*, 3B 123 1 12 8 0 0 11.40% 8.10% 0.206 0.293 0.252
Christian Bethancourt C 160 2 16 12 1 1 3.10% 20.60% 0.200 0.225 0.29

Name BABIP LD% GB% FB% HR/FB SwStr% Soft% Med% Hard% ESPN Player Rater
Freddie Freeman 0.321 27.80% 36.60% 35.60% 15.80% 11.20% 10.60% 50.90% 38.40% 3.88
Juan Uribe 0.336 19.30% 50.90% 29.80% 20.60% 11.30% 25.40% 48.30% 26.30% 0.78
Adonis Garcia 0.291 21.50% 49.40% 29.10% 21.70% 10.90% 16.50% 52.50% 31.00% -0.59
A.J. Pierzynski 0.31 24.70% 46.60% 28.70% 8.40% 7.10% 20.10% 53.90% 26.00% 2.03
Kelly Johnson 0.313 25.70% 35.70% 38.60% 16.70% 9.00% 15.70% 50.70% 33.60% 1.26
Nick Markakis 0.338 20.80% 52.30% 27.00% 2.10% 4.10% 16.40% 57.90% 25.70% 3.47
Nick Swisher 0.221 15.60% 51.10% 33.30% 13.30% 9.60% 14.40% 56.70% 28.90% -3.14
Cameron Maybin 0.316 22.00% 57.90% 20.00% 12.30% 8.10% 20.90% 57.70% 21.40% 5.35
Jonny Gomes 0.293 17.70% 38.50% 43.80% 12.30% 9.40% 19.20% 52.30% 28.50% -1.97
Andrelton Simmons 0.285 21.40% 56.20% 22.40% 3.70% 4.90% 21.00% 56.30% 22.70% 1.41
Jace Peterson 0.296 22.00% 46.30% 31.80% 4.70% 8.80% 20.80% 53.10% 26.10% 1.32
Eury Perez 0.333 21.30% 61.80% 16.90% 0.00% 9.90% 27.30% 50.50% 22.20% -2.59
Pedro Ciriaco 0.34 22.80% 42.60% 34.70% 2.90% 14.40% 22.90% 57.80% 19.30% -1.96
Daniel Castro 0.266 13.60% 61.70% 24.70% 10.00% 7.70% 19.50% 62.20% 18.30% -3.00
Chris Johnson 0.33 21.00% 42.90% 36.20% 5.30% 15.50% 9.50% 60.00% 30.50% -1.90
Michael Bourn 0.28 23.60% 47.20% 29.20% 0.00% 9.70% 18.50% 62.00% 19.40% 0.19
Alberto Callaspo 0.214 24.50% 36.70% 38.80% 2.60% 3.80% 20.20% 65.70% 14.10% -2.94
Christian Bethancourt 0.242 18.00% 50.80% 31.10% 5.30% 16.30% 24.60% 54.10% 21.30% -3.35

*Will lose this eligibility in 2016

**The ESPN player rater is based on a player's standard 5 x 5 category performance relative to average. A score of 0 is replacement level and negative values mean the player is actually hurting your team. Values in the 1-2 range generally are for your worst starting player, unless you are unlucky. There are no positional adjustments, though, so shortstops and catchers will often have very low scores relative to everyone else. It is normalized so that guys with little playing time can be compared to guys that played all year.

***Final note, I promise. I left some guys that were traded during the year on this list like Kelly Johnson, Chris Johnson, Juan Uribe, and others because I want to cover them somewhere and this way I won't forget them.

Analysis

It's clear why this team was no good this year. They traded away a lot of their remaining talent to build for the future. The players that stayed behind were either filler material, under long-term deals, or young kids getting their feet wet. Freddie Freeman is still here and did miss some time with an injury, but he should be good to go next year and good for his usual 25 HR, 0.280/0.370/0.500 type of season, which is very good. If Juan Uribe ends up a starter somewhere (no guarantee), he might have some value as a corner infielder in deeper leagues because he has average power and a good walk rate, but shallower leagues can ignore him.

Kelly Johnson is still a useful utility hitter in deeper leagues because he is eligible all over the place and has a little power. If he can get consistent playing time, he can be useful in 2016. Adonis Garcia showed good power and a poor walk rate. His role is pretty unclear right now with the Braves acquisitions and Freeman at 1st. He will have to play the OF, but likely won't start. Even if he does, I'm avoiding him. A.J. Pierzynski refuses to stop putting up high empty batting averages. That's the only thing he gives you from the catcher position, so he's not really a viable option.

Nick Markakis, who I've never liked, put up another boring, but consistent year. He's always good for a high average, high OBP, and solid runs total. He doesn't give you anything in the other categories, though. I expect more of the same next year, but his skills should age well. I want to believe in a rebound from Nick Swisher, but I just can't see it. Injuries have sapped his power, which was his best skill. Michael Bourn, like Swisher, has lost his best skill (speed) and it is not coming back. He did manage 17 steals this year, but everything else was so bad that it's not worth it.

Cameron Maybin had a hot start to the year, but then cooled off considerably. The power he showed isn't likely to repeat, but the other skills are legit. He should be good for 20 steals and a similar triple slash line in 2016. That can be useful in deep leagues. He hit way too many ground balls to maintain his 10 HR pace next year, especially given his previous years' stats (this was a career high HR total). Even with a very shallow SS position, Andrelton Simmons is useless in fantasy, continue to avoid.

Christian Bethancourt did not play well and I'm not optimistic that his offense will ever be worthy of starting in fantasy. Jace Peterson was good enough at second to allow the Braves to move Tommy La Stella to the Cubs. Fantasy-wise, though, he won't have much value in 2016 because he doesn't do well at anything, even with the low bar for 2B. He has a little speed but no power and an average OBP. I think this is basically what you're going to get from him.

Before we get to the prospects, I'm just going to mention Hector Olivera. Ok, I mentioned him, we can move on (more on him later).

The main prospect that could be called up in 2016 is Mallex Smith. He has 80-grade speed (that's good) and should hit for a decent average, but he has no power. He ended the year in AAA and could be called up in the summer. He plays outfield and will add the the OF mess. Ozzie Albies is a potential star middle infielder, but needs at least another year or two in the minors.

Pitchers

Name Position IP ERA FIP xFIP WHIP BABIP LOB% GB% SwStr%
Arodys Vizcaino RP 33.2 1.6 2.48 3.5 1.19 0.295 85.50% 34.90% 11.50%
Jim Johnson RP 48 2.25 3.24 3.68 1.23 0.295 80.40% 60.80% 8.30%
Edwin Jackson RP 24.2 2.92 4.96 4.65 0.93 0.156 69.00% 35.30% 11.30%
Jason Grilli RP 33.2 2.94 2.12 3.11 1.13 0.313 71.00% 27.10% 14.60%
Shelby Miller SP 205.1 3.02 3.45 4.07 1.25 0.285 73.80% 47.70% 9.20%
Alex Wood SP 119.1 3.54 3.45 4.02 1.41 0.332 75.60% 45.80% 7.30%
Luis Avilan RP 37.2 3.58 3.67 3.66 1.19 0.284 76.10% 46.80% 12.20%
Julio Teheran SP 200.2 4.04 4.4 4.19 1.31 0.288 73.80% 39.70% 10.80%
Brandon Cunniff RP 35 4.63 4.39 4.17 1.4 0.261 66.80% 43.70% 12.60%
David Aardsma RP 30.2 4.7 4.86 4.2 1.27 0.26 72.80% 29.50% 14.80%
Matthew Wisler SP 109 4.71 4.93 5.1 1.46 0.298 74.00% 33.60% 8.10%
Ryan Weber RP 28.1 4.76 4.02 3.42 1.09 0.278 62.50% 64.20% 5.70%
Williams Perez SP 116.2 4.78 4.87 4.79 1.55 0.318 72.20% 50.90% 6.10%
Matt Marksberry RP 23.1 5.01 4.63 5.35 1.63 0.294 63.50% 38.60% 9.10%
Manny Banuelos SP 26.1 5.13 5.37 5.14 1.59 0.313 71.10% 40.20% 7.90%
Cody Martin RP 21.2 5.4 4.43 3.73 1.43 0.357 72.00% 31.00% 8.40%
Mike Foltynewicz SP 86.2 5.71 5.05 4.61 1.63 0.349 67.70% 33.30% 8.90%
Eric Stults SP 47.2 5.85 5.38 4.57 1.28 0.268 63.80% 37.60% 7.20%
Andrew McKirahan RP 27.1 5.93 3.79 3.92 1.83 0.409 69.10% 50.00% 9.10%
Sugar Marimon RP 25.2 7.36 5.2 5.86 1.71 0.314 57.80% 36.80% 7.20%
Trevor Cahill RP 26.1 7.52 4.43 4.33 1.78 0.354 55.30% 63.50% 6.90%

Name SV HLD K% BB% Soft% Med% Hard% ESPN Player Rater
Arodys Vizcaino 9 3 26.60% 9.40% 11.20% 57.30% 31.50% 1.73
Jim Johnson 9 20 16.80% 7.10% 22.30% 55.40% 22.30% -0.36
Edwin Jackson 1 5 18.10% 9.60% 10.30% 63.20% 26.50% 0.82
Jason Grilli 24 0 32.10% 7.10% 18.80% 55.30% 25.90% 3.34
Shelby Miller 0 0 19.90% 8.50% 21.30% 52.00% 26.70% 4.38
Alex Wood 0 0 17.70% 7.10% 16.30% 54.30% 29.40% 2.61
Luis Avilan 0 11 20.10% 6.50% 30.10% 53.10% 16.80% -0.27
Julio Teheran 0 0 20.30% 8.70% 18.30% 50.30% 31.40% 3.05
Brandon Cunniff 0 5 24.50% 14.60% 19.60% 51.10% 29.40% -1.32
David Aardsma 0 6 27.10% 10.90% 10.30% 52.60% 37.20% -1.26
Matt Wisler 0 0 15.10% 8.40% 17.10% 54.70% 28.20% -0.81
Ryan Weber 0 0 17.40% 5.50% 23.20% 48.80% 28.10% -1.40
Williams Perez 1 0 14.20% 9.90% 13.90% 56.70% 29.40% -1.68
Matt Marksberry 0 5 19.40% 14.80% 18.60% 62.90% 18.60% -2.31
Manny Banuelos 0 0 15.70% 9.90% 10.30% 54.00% 35.60% -2.20
Cody Martin 0 7 26.10% 7.60% 15.00% 53.30% 31.70% -3.24
Mike Foltynewicz 0 1 19.30% 7.30% 18.70% 48.80% 32.50% -3.06
Eric Stults 0 0 15.80% 6.60% 15.10% 54.00% 30.90% -2.10
Andrew McKirahan 0 4 17.10% 7.80% 28.40% 54.70% 16.80% -2.88
Sugar Marimon 0 0 12.00% 12.00% 18.00% 51.70% 30.30% -3.38
Trevor Cahill 0 0 11.30% 8.90% 19.40% 49.00% 31.60% -2.00

*If they were outside the top 550 pitchers on the player rater, they will show up as #N/A

Analysis

Let's start with the, er, starters. There are lots of youngsters in this rotation. Julio Teheran took a step back and I have concerns, but I see some positive signs among the wreckage of this year. His swinging strike rate was excellent, his K%-BB% was average, and, well, that's about it, but he is still young and could adapt. Don't pay much at all for him, though. Alex Wood is now a Dodger, but I'll briefly talk about him here. His ERA was better the Teheran, but his K%, K%-BB%, and swStr% were all worse. I don't like what I saw from Wood this year after having high hopes for him. His groundball rate is the only thing in his corner. I would avoid.

Shelby Miller's ERA belies his true ability this year. He really wasn't much better than Wood, but was luckier (0.050 BABIP points between them). I like Miller overall, but he's not a true ace. His average K%-BB% and SwStr% aren't exciting. He gets a decent number of ground balls and is still only 25, but a 4.16 SIERA this year shows how mediocre he could be. I think he is still the best pitcher on this team, but don't pay for a guy with a near 3.0 ERA, because you won't get it. I expect more like 3.5-3.6.

The young starters are a mixed bag. Manny Banuelos and Matt Wisler had very rough debut years and I don't see much to get excited about yet. Wisler was a top-50 prospect once, but I'm going to wait and see before investing. Mike Folty...(it's too hard to spell) had bad results but was killed by bad luck. A sky-high BABIP and a very low strand rate hurt him. Now, it wasn't all bad luck since he allowed a high hard hit rate and batters seemed to be able to square up his straight, flat, wicked fast, fastball. His velocity and K%-BB% show some hope for improvement, so I'm keeping a close eye on him, but not investing just yet.

On to the bullpen, the only three here you need to know are Jason Grilli, Aroldys Vizcaino, and the soon-to-be returning Shae Simmons. I'm not interested in any of the other guys. The now 39-year-old Grilli was excellent before an Achilles injury ended his year. He's old, but has been very good in two of three years. If he is the closer next year, he would be a health risk, but a good cheap closer. If he's a setup man, he could be a good source of holds with good rates.

Vizcaino did well as the late season closer and showed that he could hold down the job if he has it. I think he will be third in line next year though. Shae Simmons is the one with the best chance to take the closer job from Grilli. He will probably miss the first month of 2016, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, but after that look out. He showed some Dellin Betances-type breakout potential. He's got a 95 mph fastball, a splitter, and a slider. He gets grounders and whiffs and had a 3.22 xFIP. If he can cut down on the walks a little, he could be an elite closer for years to come. Wait to see how things shake out in this 'pen but don't miss your opportunity to buy low on this guy as he comes back from TJ surgery

Lucas Sims is the only pitching prospect of note for 2016. He pitched well in AA last year, but he did have a bad walk rate. I don't expect much from him in 2016, but he's a name to keep in mind. He has the ceiling of a #3 starter, as far as I can tell from scouting reports.

Breakout

Hector Olivera

This 30-year-old infielder/outfielder (the Braves are supposedly moving him to OF) came over from the Dodgers in a mid-season trade. He had a good career in Cuba and 2015 was his first year in the U.S. He put up a 0.253/0.310/0.405 line in 87 PA for the Braves. He has had elbow issues (reports of a torn UCL that will eventually require surgery), so there are some health risks. Kiley McDaniel of Fangraphs said a 0.270 average, good OBP, and 20 HR was a reasonable projection for him. This team doesn't have a lot of good breakout candidates, so I'm going with the big unknown. There has to be a good reason the Braves moved Alex Wood AND Jose Peraza for this guy, so I'm interested. Hopefully they still use him at 3B some, since he has more value there.

Breakdown

Cameron Maybin

He's on here simply because I expect the power to drop and he's at an age where steals start to decline, too. Take some homers and steals away and he's not really all that useful anymore.

Check back soon for the next team preview as we keep moving up the standings. Tschus!