Atlanta Braves

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The Braves are the defending NL East champions, but they have convinced few people with their offseason moves—or lack ofthat they are going to repeat. Look around at the picks: Washington, Philadelphia, Atlanta, or some combination of the three that does not include Atlanta as No. 1. The Braves added a veteran bat, Josh Donaldson, but he gave no indication in spring training he was back to 2015-16 form. Ace Mike Foltynewicz and veteran Kevin Gausman are injured, and rookies Kyle Wright and Bryse Wilson have been thrust into the starting rotation.
To the chagrin of fans, Atlanta will remain 17th in payroll in baseball, just as they were in 2018. If the kid pitchers do not perform it will be time to open the vault holding all the money from the organization’s real estate deals around Sun Trust Park.
Team MVP: Freddie Freeman



Freeman, 29, has been the team MVP and will continue to be the ‘guy’ with above average defense and three consecutive seasons hitting over .300 (.302, .307, .309). In 2019 he is going to be right there for NL MVP with a deep lineup making it difficult for pitchers to work him. FanGraphs has Freeman at the top of its first base rankings.
Best-Value Pitcher: Kyle Wright
Wright is a rookie, but he is also 23 years old. His body has matured, if not his pitching acumen. Wright, a first-round pick out of Vanderbilt, is supposed to be here in the big leagues—right now.
At $565,000 per year (Spotrac) and smack dab in the middle of the rotation to start the season the Braves are betting heavily Wright and fellow rookie Bryse Wilson measure up to the promise shown in spring training. Wright had 18 Ks in 12.2 innings so he can be a swing-and-miss effective pitcher for six innings.
Best-Value Position Player: Ronald Acuña Jr.
That’s easy. Acuña, the NL Rookie of the Year in 2018 with a $560,000 salary (Spotrac) for 2019. The Braves will hit him fourth behind gap-to-gap hitters Ender Inciarte, Josh Donaldson, and Freddie Freeman and look for Acuña to yank 30-plus homers.
When he really got going in 2019, Acuña slashed .322/.403/.625 in the second half. If he shows better plate discipline, Acuña could be the MVP of the NL.
Best Addition: Josh Donaldson
Much has been made about the Phillies adding Harper, but Atlanta added third baseman Donaldson, the 2015 American League MVP. Before he was injured, Donaldson put up some numbers in a couple of seasons that rivaled Harper. If he gets his swing back and is healthy, Donaldson will make this a really deep lineup.
The X-Factor: Arodys Vizcaino
The Braves do not seem to be making a big play for their former closer Craig Kimbrel, so here comes Vizcaino (or A.J. Minter) into the closer role. Cover your eyes, and peek at your own risk. They have the stuff, but it is a matter of staying healthy and in command. The Braves are using two rookies in the starting rotation for the time being. The back end needs to be stout.

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