Mar 282011

Major Changes

The Braves changed three position players: Melky Cabrera was traded and Glaus and Escobar left via free agency. They traded for Dan Uggla (and signed him to a 5-year extension) to play second, traded for Alex Gonzalez (and exercised his option) to play shortstop, moved Prado from second to left and plan to play rookie Dan Freeman at first base. Kawakami left the rotation, and rookie Mike Minor will take his spot. They signed former Dodger great George Sherrill to replace former Dodger great Saito in the bullpen, and promoted rookie Craig Kimbrel to replace departing closer Billy Wagner.

Hitters 2010 C- 2011 B+

The offense looks much improved. The departed Glaus, Cabrera and Escobar combined for a single bWAR, and Uggla, Gonzalez and Freeman each project better than that. Even with a regression from Heyward, this offense looks about 6 WAR better than 2010, assuming an improvement from McClouth and a reasonable rookie season from Freeman, who looks like the real deal. Possibly the most improved offense in baseball, not good news for other NL East fans.

Starters 2010 A 2011 B+

The chart below is, in my opinion misleading: Jurrjens was NOT worthless or replacement-level last year – I have him as deserving an 11-9 record, contributing to a VERY solid rotation. Hudson and Hanson were a very solid 1-2 punch last year, and figure to regress somewhat, and Jurrjens was a disappointment who figures to rebound, but together I don’t see these 3 as quite as good as 2010. Derek Lowe is getting up there, and hasn’t had a good year, really, since 2008, so 1.2 WAR is generous. Mike Minor didn’t get it done in 40 innings in 2010, but he is young and could be good. Overall, I expect a small decline from the 2010 rotation.

Bullpen 2010 A 2011 C+

Billy Wagner was a major contributor last year, and will not be easily replaced. George Sherrill was worthless; some rebound may happen but he is NOT a valuable commodity. Saito also pitched well, and will be gone, so Venters and Moylan will have to carry bigger loads, and be as effective as last year. It could happen, but I don’t see it, and I project a sharp decline in the effectiveness of the Atlanta bullpen.

Overall 2010 B+ 2011 C

The Braves actual record (grade B+) was better than their projected record based on their hitting, starters and bullpen grades. So where you project them depends a lot on which you believe. I see the Braves as about as good as 2010: up 5-6 wins on offense, but down a similar number between the rotation and the bullpen. But I am also going to project that against the report card winning percentage of .542 instead of the actual winning percentage of .562, and project the Braves to win 88 games in 2011.

Charts

Player Position Age 2011 2011
Brian McCann Catcher 27 4.5 4.7
Freddie Freeman First Base 21 1.5 0.6 Glaus
Dan Uggla Second Base 30 3.3 2.7 Prado
Chipper Jones Third Base 38 3.0 3.2
Alex Gonzalez Shortstop 34 2.5 0.9 Escobar
Martin Prado Left Field 27 2.5 -0.4 Cabrera
Nate McLouth Center Field 29 1.1 -1.2
Jason Heyward Right Field 21 3.0 4.4
21.4 14.9

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Derek Lowe Starting Pitcher 37 1.2 1.7
Tim Hudson Starting Pitcher 35 3.0 5.4
Tommy Hanson Starting Pitcher 24 2.7 2.5
Jair Jurrjens Starting Pitcher 25 2.4 0.0
Mike Minor Starting Pitcher 23 1.0 -1.0 Kawakami
10.3 8.6

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Peter Moylan Relief Pitcher 32 0.4 0.9
Eric O’Flaherty Relief Pitcher 26 0.4 0.8
George Sherrill Relief Pitcher 33 0.8 0.6 Saito
Scott Linebrink Relief Pitcher 34 0.2 0.2
Jonny Venters Relief Pitcher 25 1.0 1.2
Craig Kimbrel Closer 22 1.0 2.7 Wagner
3.8 6.4

2 Responses to “2011 Projection – Atlanta Braves”

  1. The Braves decided to go with Brandon Beachy in the rotation instead of Minor. Freddie Freeman is their 1B. I may have written Dan Freeman because he is an elementary school chum of mine.

    • I relied on the data that you (Anthony) provided; in some cases I did some lookup, but you were thorough enough to provide minor-league stats so I didn’t have to in that case! I doubt that changing Beachy for Minor changes the projection.

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