Last preseason, the Atlanta Braves completely gutted their team. They traded their star shortstop Adrelton Simmons to the Angels. They also traded one of their star pitchers from the previous season, Shelby Miller, for a bright prospect in Dansby Swanson. As we saw these moves occur, it seemed evident that the Braves were undergoing a rebuilding process.
We saw this process first hand as the team finished 68-93, one of the league’s worst records. But as the season was drawing to a close, we saw some brilliant play from the rookie shortstop Swanson that seemed to ignite a fire under the team. This seems to be an excellent sign for the Braves as they move into SunTrust Park, their brand new stadium. The Braves have a lot of young talent on their team and are excited for the bright future they have ahead of them. So as we look at their 2017 roster, as young as it may seem, this leads to the question, could the Braves possibly make a playoff run this coming season?
As I mentioned earlier, the Braves have a strong shortstop in Dansby Swanson, who seemed to bring a swagger to the team that had not been there in awhile. But we cannot forget the main piece to the puzzle, Freddie Freeman. Since Freeman entered the league as a rookie in 2010, he has become the the cornerstone of the franchise. His on field talent is extraordinary, but his leadership is priceless. Freddie will be the reason the Braves either make or miss the playoffs.
This Braves team is young, but so were the Cubs. While I am not saying the Braves will go off and make a World Series run, this seems to be a good sign that the Braves have a bright future. The infield for the Braves is filled with studs, including Brandon Philips who was just acquired from the Cincinnati Reds. The outfield, along with the infield, is loaded with talent as well, led by Golden Glove winner Endar Inciarte. We also cannot forget the pitching for the Braves, which usually seems to always be the strong point, with ace Julio Tehran leading the way. When we look at this Braves team, defense does not seem to be an issue.
Offense may be the main point of concern for the Braves, although it is not too bad of an issue. Freddie Freeman led the team in basically every category. He has been the player the Braves can constantly rely on to come up with a clutch hit. But Dansby Swanson has proven to be a good offensive player for the Braves as well. Maybe a full season will show us even more of the young star’s potential. Towards the end of the year, the Braves seemed to be making their way up offensively and hopefully that trend keeps progressing in the 2017 season.
One last factor the Braves will have to overcome is their new manager, Brian Snitker. While he has been with the team for a while, he is new to managing in the MLB. Snitker was the interim coach for the Braves after Freddie Gonzalez was fired. The Braves new manager went 59-65 overall and 37-35 in the 2nd half of the season. The way the Braves finished seems to be a big factor on why Snitker got the job. The question is, can he get the job done and lead this Braves team back to the top? The Braves have loads of talent and have a chance to make a run for the playoffs. Can the Braves be the next Chicago Cubs?