Tha Sports Junkies 101

Atlanta Braves: New Year, New Team

Atlanta Braves: New Year, New Team Image via Sportsgraphics36


Atlanta Braves

The Atlanta Braves had a season that many team members, fans, and executives wish they could wipe clear from their memories. Gone are the days of dominating pitching staffs that bolstered names such as Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine, Steve Avery and John Smoltz. Those names are mentioned now as folklore. A distant reminder of how great the Atlanta Braves of the 1990’s truly were. Power hitters like Fred McGriff, who should be in the Hall of Fame by the way, David Justice, Ryan Klesko, infielders Jeff Blauser and Chipper Jones, who will be in the Hall of Fame as early as next year, solidified a roster that resembled something engineered by a mad scientist and led to a World Series title in 1995. The 2016 Atlanta Braves are a far cry from anything remotely resembling the Braves of the 90’s. Last season saw the firing of manager Fredi Gonzalez after an abysmal 5-18 start in the month of April. Atlanta wouldn’t play .500 or better baseball per month until September, finishing the month with a 16-10 record. October would see the Braves win the only two games on the schedule and finish the season with a 68-93 record; last place in a division they once dominated. Offensively, the Braves were led by outfielder Matt Kemp and first baseman Freddie Freeman. Kemp, acquired via trade from the San Diego Padres, hit .268 with 35 home runs and 108 RBI’s. Freeman wouldn’t be outdone, posting a .302 batting average with 32 home runs and 91 RBI’s. The pitching staff was led by Mike Foltynewicz who registered a 9-5 record with a 4.31 ERA. Julio Teheran saw his win totals drop from last season, finishing with a disappointing 7-10 record.  

Off-Season Moves:

The Atlanta Braves have made moves this off-season to acquire added pitching depth to the starting rotation. The Braves signed free agents R.A. Dickey and Bartolo Colon. Dickey, 42, is coming off a 10-15 season with the Toronto Blue Jays while Colon compiled a 15-8 record with the New York Mets. These two ageless wonders look to add experience, toughness and hopefully wins to a roster desperately in need of quality starting pitching. Offensively, the Braves signed veteran utility man Sean Rodriguez. Rodriguez hit .270 with 18 home runs and 56 RBI’s last season for the Pittsburgh Pirates. Rodriguez’s arrival gives flexibility to the Braves line-up and adds pop to the batting order.  

Expectations For 2017: 

While 2016 saw them finish at the bottom of the cellar in the division, it did also see the arrival of top prospect Dansby Swanson. Swanson reached the majors in 2016 appearing in 38 games and hitting .302 with three home runs and 17 RBI’s. He will likely be the starting shortstop when the team begins the 2017 campaign in New York to face the Mets. The Braves minor league system is loaded with prospects and according to ESPN’s Keith Law, they boast the number one ranked farm system in the major leagues. South Paws Sean Newcomb, Kolby Allard, outfielder Alex Jackson, and infielder Ozzie Albies are notable names looking to move through the system and fast track to the majors. Newcomb could be a September call-up for the Braves as well as Jackson who has shown promise as well as power. Ultimately, the Atlanta Braves line-up shows reason for fans to be optimistic.


The Atlanta Braves, offensively, should be much improved from last season. With hitters like Kemp and Freeman, production won’t be an issue. The question is what will Dansby Swanson be able to give the Braves offensively in a full season of action? And where does help come in the lineup? Pitching wise, the Braves have done nicely this off-season. They’ve added veteran help to the rotation, and if Dickey and Colon can stay healthy, this is a staff that could pose some real problems for hitters. It’s unlikely the Braves will contend for a division title this year, but stranger things have happened; like the Chicago Cubs winning a World Series. Anything is possible and as anyone who loves this game knows, with new seasons come renewed hopes of glory.