2013 ZiPS Projections – Atlanta Braves

Dan Szymborski’s ZiPS projections, which have typically appeared in the pages of Baseball Think Factory, are being released at FanGraphs this year. Below are the projections for the Atlanta Braves. Szymborski can be found on Twitter at @DSzymborski.

Other 2013 Projections: Angels / Astros / Athletics / Blue Jays / Brewers / Cardinals / Cubs / Diamondbacks / Dodgers / Giants / Mariners / Marlins / Mets / Nationals / Orioles / Padres / Phillies / Pirates / Rangers / Rays / Reds / Red Sox / Rockies / Royals / Tigers / Twins / White Sox / Yankees.

Batters
Basically every starter for Atlanta — plus the Francisco/Johnson platoon at third — appears likely to produce something between two and four wins above replacement. For obvious reasons, that’s more of a good thing than a bad one — on account of, I mean, more wins is better than fewer wins. If there is a downside to having such a balanced roster, it’s that upgrading at midseason is more challenging. Last season, for example, the Chicago White Sox had the blackest of possible holes at third base. Therefore, their late-June acquisition of Kevin Youkilis represented a considerable improvement over the status quo. As of now, the possibility that the Braves will have such a glaring weakness is on the low-ish end of things.

Posing some difficulty to those who would prefer to draw strong conclusions about Atlanta based on these projections is what one might call, were he/she in the mood, the Brian McCann Shoulder Situation. The very good Braves catcher had surgery on his right shoulder in October — of which procedure Dan Szymborski’s math computer is entirely unaware. Reports suggest that McCann should be ready by mid-April, but even that timetable is liable to futz around with McCann’s “real” projection for 2013.

Pitchers
While the author, in this nearly concluded series of ZiPS posts, has generally considered each team’s starting rotation first, the Atlanta bullpen demands to be acknowledged. Closer Craig Kimbrel, the reader will note, is projected to strike out 43.2% of opposing batters. Eric O’Flaherty, Jonny Venters, and Jordan Walden — the reader will continue to note — are all projected to post park-adjusted FIPs about 20% better than league average.

The rotation, for its part, is neither (a) chopped liver, nor (b) any other sort of popular and edible organ. Kris Medlen, despite having made only 30 career starts, is projected to pitch rather on the excellent side of things. Also noteworthy is Brandon Beachy‘s forecast. After undergoing Tommy John surgery in 2012, Beachy is expected back around June. If he approximates his per-inning numbers, he will be of some considerable use to the Braves, one imagines.

Bench/Prospects
Catcher-cum-outfielder Evan Gattis was among the best hitters in the Venezuelan Winter League this offseason — this, after performing admirably in both the High-A Carolina League and Double-A Southern League. ZiPS is not skeptical of the power, but is skeptical of the overall defensive ability. Also of note is this: largely obscure third baseman Joe Leonard is projected to out-WAR (in roughly the same number of plate appearances) offseason acquisition Chris Johnson.

Depth Chart
Here’s a rough depth chart for the Braves, with rounded projected WAR totals for each player (click to embiggen):

Braves Depth

Ballpark graphic courtesy Eephus League. Credit to MLB Depth Charts for roster information.

Batters, Counting Stats

Player B Age PO PA R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB CS
Jason Heyward L 23 RF 593 81 140 27 5 24 72 16 6
B.J. Upton R 28 CF 649 89 145 33 5 25 80 34 10
Brian McCann L 29 C 518 51 118 21 0 21 73 3 1
Freddie Freeman L 23 1B 648 87 156 33 2 26 97 3 2
Justin Upton R 25 RF 661 93 152 29 4 22 76 19 9
Andrelton Simmons R 23 SS 526 55 134 23 6 5 48 14 10
Chipper Jones B 41 3B 424 48 100 23 0 13 57 1 1
Dan Uggla R 33 2B 610 81 126 24 0 23 80 3 3
Juan Francisco L 26 3B 402 42 96 24 2 16 59 2 1
Tyler Pastornicky R 23 SS 485 54 118 21 4 7 43 12 6
Gerald Laird R 33 C 217 22 48 10 1 3 17 1 0
Paul Janish R 30 SS 356 35 74 18 1 3 26 2 2
Joe Leonard R 24 3B 527 49 112 24 3 10 59 3 2
Evan Gattis R 26 LF 396 40 90 21 3 16 53 2 4
Christian Bethancourt R 21 C 393 33 92 11 2 6 37 9 7
Todd Cunningham B 24 CF 493 56 113 18 6 4 36 14 7
Chris Johnson R 28 3B 541 54 128 27 4 14 74 4 1
Jordan Parraz R 28 RF 372 40 82 19 3 6 34 5 3
Ramiro Pena B 27 SS 339 32 72 11 2 3 26 4 2
Jose Constanza L 29 LF 501 60 122 9 6 2 32 21 8
Stefan Gartrell R 29 RF 522 57 108 23 1 18 61 5 1
Ruben Gotay B 30 3B 441 47 89 15 2 7 37 4 3
Ernesto Mejia R 27 1B 577 58 128 29 1 21 74 5 2
Matt Pagnozzi R 30 C 283 24 53 10 0 3 25 0 1
Blake DeWitt L 27 LF 302 28 63 14 4 4 27 1 1
Jordan Schafer L 26 CF 411 47 78 13 2 4 25 23 8
Reed Johnson R 36 LF 251 26 58 13 2 3 19 2 2
Joey Terdoslavich B 24 1B 588 57 129 33 4 13 63 4 0
Josh Kroeger L 30 RF 419 41 91 21 0 9 43 8 6

***

Batters, Rates and Averages

Player PA BB% K% ISO BABIP BA OBP SLG wOBA
Jason Heyward 593 9.9% 21.8% .207 .307 .265 .341 .472 .351
B.J. Upton 649 9.4% 25.6% .204 .306 .251 .322 .455 .338
Brian McCann 518 10.4% 16.8% .183 .275 .258 .338 .441 .329
Freddie Freeman 648 9.9% 20.2% .202 .310 .274 .350 .476 .353
Justin Upton 661 10.4% 22.5% .179 .316 .263 .348 .442 .339
Andrelton Simmons 526 5.3% 10.1% .104 .301 .278 .320 .382 .298
Chipper Jones 424 10.8% 14.2% .166 .286 .268 .347 .434 .330
Dan Uggla 610 11.6% 24.1% .176 .285 .238 .334 .414 .326
Juan Francisco 402 4.2% 28.1% .199 .315 .252 .286 .451 .313
Tyler Pastornicky 485 5.2% 12.6% .113 .292 .265 .305 .378 .291
Gerald Laird 217 6.9% 15.7% .107 .281 .245 .304 .352 .284
Paul Janish 356 7.6% 14.3% .091 .265 .231 .299 .322 .274
Joe Leonard 527 6.8% 23.9% .125 .291 .233 .288 .358 .282
Evan Gattis 396 5.8% 18.2% .206 .266 .247 .303 .453 .320
Christian Bethancourt 393 2.3% 19.8% .088 .291 .245 .263 .333 .256
Todd Cunningham 493 5.3% 15.0% .093 .291 .251 .303 .344 .283
Chris Johnson 541 5.0% 25.0% .153 .317 .254 .296 .407 .301
Jordan Parraz 372 6.5% 19.9% .128 .295 .243 .308 .371 .298
Ramiro Pena 339 6.2% 19.2% .078 .283 .232 .284 .310 .262
Jose Constanza 501 6.6% 14.2% .059 .310 .266 .316 .325 .280
Stefan Gartrell 522 7.1% 29.1% .165 .291 .226 .288 .391 .297
Ruben Gotay 441 10.9% 22.4% .103 .289 .229 .316 .332 .287
Ernesto Mejia 577 5.5% 32.9% .176 .327 .240 .289 .416 .304
Matt Pagnozzi 283 7.1% 27.2% .076 .286 .209 .273 .285 .246
Blake DeWitt 302 8.3% 17.5% .124 .271 .231 .298 .355 .283
Jordan Schafer 411 8.8% 26.0% .079 .289 .214 .286 .293 .259
Reed Johnson 251 3.2% 22.7% .111 .314 .248 .292 .359 .281
Joey Terdoslavich 588 6.1% 25.2% .148 .300 .238 .286 .386 .291
Josh Kroeger 419 6.9% 16.2% .125 .265 .236 .294 .361 .282

***

Batters, Assorted Other

Player PA RC/27 OPS+ Def WAR No.1 Comp
Jason Heyward 593 6.0 119 11 4.0 Leon Durham
B.J. Upton 649 5.5 109 0 3.5 Mike Cameron
Brian McCann 518 5.4 111 0 3.5 Ed Bailey
Freddie Freeman 648 6.2 123 -1 3.0 Kent Hrbek
Justin Upton 661 5.7 114 3 3.0 Chili Davis
Andrelton Simmons 526 4.4 91 6 2.3 Placido Polanco
Chipper Jones 424 5.5 112 -2 2.1 Pinky Higgins
Dan Uggla 610 4.9 103 -7 1.9 Rico Petrocelli
Juan Francisco 402 4.7 97 -1 1.3 Jim Presley
Tyler Pastornicky 485 4.2 85 -5 1.0 Alberto Gonzalez
Gerald Laird 217 3.9 78 2 0.8 Rollie Hemsley
Paul Janish 356 3.3 70 3 0.8 Tim Cullen
Joe Leonard 527 3.6 75 1 0.7 Corey Myers
Evan Gattis 396 4.8 103 -3 0.6 Chad Rupp
Christian Bethancourt 393 3.0 62 4 0.6 Edwin Bellorin
Todd Cunningham 493 3.8 76 1 0.6 Renard Brown
Chris Johnson 541 4.4 89 -10 0.5 Bobby Knoop
Jordan Parraz 372 4.1 84 3 0.5 Rod Allen
Ramiro Pena 339 3.1 62 3 0.4 Raul Nieves
Jose Constanza 501 3.9 75 5 0.3 Jason Tyner
Stefan Gartrell 522 4.0 83 0 0.3 John Nelson
Ruben Gotay 441 3.6 77 -6 0.0 Mark Kiger
Ernesto Mejia 577 4.3 90 -5 -0.1 Chris Cron
Matt Pagnozzi 283 2.6 53 -1 -0.1 Joe Hietpas
Blake DeWitt 302 3.7 77 0 -0.1 Michael Tullier
Jordan Schafer 411 3.1 59 -1 -0.3 Roger Bernadina
Reed Johnson 251 3.7 77 -2 -0.3 Roberto Kelly
Joey Terdoslavich 588 4.0 81 -4 -0.4 Julio Zuleta
Josh Kroeger 419 3.6 78 -5 -0.7 Ron Calloway

***

Pitchers, Counting Stats

Player T Age G GS IP SO BB HR H R ER
Tim Hudson R 37 27 27 169.7 106 50 14 163 73 68
Kris Medlen R 27 23 23 145.0 113 33 13 138 58 54
Brandon Beachy R 26 20 20 122.0 119 43 12 108 49 46
Craig Kimbrel R 25 69 0 69.0 118 28 5 38 13 12
Mike Minor L 25 30 30 170.7 154 57 22 161 81 76
Paul Maholm L 31 28 28 168.0 115 51 17 168 80 75
Jonny Venters L 28 74 0 73.3 84 34 5 59 26 24
Aaron Northcraft R 23 25 24 129.0 98 63 11 129 66 62
Julio Teheran R 22 28 26 142.7 100 55 17 148 76 71
Eric O’Flaherty L 28 67 0 58.7 52 19 4 51 20 19
Cristhian Martinez R 31 49 0 71.0 59 17 7 69 30 28
Jordan Walden R 25 57 0 54.3 62 25 4 46 21 20
Cory Gearrin R 27 57 0 72.0 67 35 5 65 31 29
Ben Sheets R 34 13 13 74.3 55 23 10 76 39 36
David Carpenter R 27 60 0 61.7 55 26 7 62 32 30
Luis Avilan L 23 42 12 93.0 70 46 14 97 57 53
Juan Jaime R 25 44 0 48.0 55 46 6 41 29 27
Cory Rasmus R 25 53 0 54.7 44 42 6 55 34 32
David Hale R 25 26 17 105.0 68 66 15 117 72 67

***

Pitchers, Rates and Averages

Player IP TBF K% BB% BABIP ERA FIP ERA- FIP-
Tim Hudson 169.7 722 14.7% 6.9% .275 3.61 3.82 92 97
Kris Medlen 145.0 606 18.6% 5.4% .281 3.35 3.32 85 85
Brandon Beachy 122.0 517 23.0% 8.3% .283 3.39 3.39 86 86
Craig Kimbrel 69.0 273 43.2% 10.3% .275 1.57 1.79 40 46
Mike Minor 170.7 730 21.1% 7.8% .283 4.01 3.88 102 99
Paul Maholm 168.0 723 15.9% 7.1% .284 4.02 3.97 103 101
Jonny Venters 73.3 313 26.8% 10.9% .294 2.95 3.07 75 78
Aaron Northcraft 129.0 579 16.9% 10.9% .296 4.33 4.22 110 108
Julio Teheran 142.7 631 15.8% 8.7% .290 4.48 4.43 114 113
Eric O’Flaherty 58.7 246 21.1% 7.7% .278 2.91 2.99 74 76
Cristhian Martinez 71.0 299 19.7% 5.7% .290 3.55 3.30 91 84
Jordan Walden 54.3 234 26.5% 10.7% .296 3.31 3.01 84 77
Cory Gearrin 72.0 316 21.2% 11.1% .294 3.63 3.63 93 93
Ben Sheets 74.3 322 17.1% 7.1% .283 4.36 4.20 111 107
David Carpenter 61.7 273 20.1% 9.5% .304 4.38 4.01 112 102
Luis Avilan 93.0 422 16.6% 10.9% .289 5.13 5.07 131 129
Juan Jaime 48.0 231 23.8% 19.9% .289 5.06 5.15 129 131
Cory Rasmus 54.7 261 16.9% 16.1% .297 5.27 5.24 134 134
David Hale 105.0 498 13.7% 13.3% .299 5.74 5.65 146 144

***

Pitchers, Assorted Other

Player IP K/9 BB/9 HR/9 ERA+ WAR No. 1 Comp
Tim Hudson 169.7 5.62 2.65 0.74 110 3.3 Bob Forsch
Kris Medlen 145.0 7.01 2.05 0.81 118 3.2 Shane Reynolds
Brandon Beachy 122.0 8.78 3.17 0.89 117 2.7 Jack Armstrong
Craig Kimbrel 69.0 15.39 3.65 0.65 254 2.5 Francisco Rodriguez
Mike Minor 170.7 8.12 3.01 1.16 99 2.4 John Cerutti
Paul Maholm 168.0 6.16 2.73 0.91 99 2.4 Kirk Rueter
Jonny Venters 73.3 10.31 4.17 0.61 135 1.4 Rod Scurry
Aaron Northcraft 129.0 6.84 4.40 0.77 92 1.3 Charlie Haeger
Julio Teheran 142.7 6.31 3.47 1.07 89 1.2 Wade Taylor
Eric O’Flaherty 58.7 7.97 2.91 0.61 136 1.1 Juan Agosto
Cristhian Martinez 71.0 7.48 2.15 0.89 112 0.8 Gil Heredia
Jordan Walden 54.3 10.28 4.14 0.66 120 0.8 Brian Bruney
Cory Gearrin 72.0 8.38 4.38 0.63 110 0.8 Jim Stoops
Ben Sheets 74.3 6.66 2.79 1.21 91 0.7 Bob Milacki
David Carpenter 61.7 8.02 3.79 1.02 91 0.1 Dale Thayer
Luis Avilan 93.0 6.77 4.45 1.35 77 -0.2 Frank Brooks
Juan Jaime 48.0 10.31 8.63 1.13 78 -0.3 Marcus Moore
Cory Rasmus 54.7 7.24 6.91 0.99 75 -0.5 Edwardo Sierra
David Hale 105.0 5.83 5.66 1.29 69 -0.8 Nick Skuse

***

Disclaimer: ZiPS projections are computer-based projections of performance. Performances have not been allocated to predicted playing time in the majors — many of the players listed above are unlikely to play in the majors at all in 2012. ZiPS is projecting equivalent production — a .240 ZiPS projection may end up being .280 in AAA or .300 in AA, for example. Whether or not a player will play is one of many non-statistical factors one has to take into account when predicting the future.

Players are listed with their most recent teams unless Dan has made a mistake. This is very possible as a lot of minor-league signings are generally unreported in the offseason.

ZiPS is projecting based on the AL having a 4.09 ERA and the NL having a 3.92 ERA.

Players that are expected to be out due to injury are still projected. More information is always better than less information and a computer isn’t what should be projecting the injury status of, for example, a pitcher with Tommy John surgery.

Regarding ERA+ vs. ERA- (and FIP+ vs. FIP-) and the differences therein: as Patriot notes here, they are not simply mirror images of each other. Writes Patriot: “ERA+ does not tell you that a pitcher’s ERA was X% less or more than the league’s ERA. It tells you that the league’s ERA was X% less or more than the pitcher’s ERA.”

Both hitters and pitchers are ranked by projected WAR.




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Carson Cistulli occasionally publishes spirited ejaculations at The New Enthusiast.


125 Responses to “2013 ZiPS Projections – Atlanta Braves”

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  1. Bryan says:

    Is part of the list missing? Only 19 pitchers. Where are the shoddy AA and AAA guys?

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  2. jim08 says:

    Chipper Jones projections?

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  3. champion88 says:

    hey Carson,

    Just wondering if we will be getting a roster refresh for the depth charts after all 30 teams are published?

    For example, a lot of trades and free agent signings have been made since the 1st team debuted?

    Also, 2 fast questions:

    I notice there are new projections listed on Mondays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays.

    How come you always skip Tuesdays?

    Also, what does TBF stand for in the pitchers’ charts?

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  4. pg says:

    I think TBF stand for Total Batters Faced.

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  5. RMD says:

    If Simmons hangs on with a >.700 OPS like he’s projected, he’ll almost certainly be a 4+ WAR guy this year. I’d also expect some more ZiPS WAR from Beachy and Teheran, but this is looking good for the Braves.

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  6. LuckyStrikes says:

    This team looks even better than I thought they would be. Should be a great race against WAS in the NL East.

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    • Baltar says:

      Ugh! These projections look depressingly good for the Braves. I can’t stand watching their games because of the War Chant and Tomahawk Chop, but if they make the playoffs, I have to.
      These ratings put them in Giants/Dodgers territory behind only the Nationals. My last, best hope is that they won’t really get 7 WAR out of the bullpen, because that is too much duplication of talent to be used.

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  7. Mike says:

    Well, about what you would expect. The Braves have a very good, balanced team. Seems like their 94 wins from last year should be the mean projection for this team.

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  8. Nate says:

    Will a spreadsheet with all players be available for download like last year?

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  9. subtle says:

    Freeman’s number one comp is Kent Hrbek. I find that hilarious given the relationship between Hrbek and Braves fans.

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  10. shanemgardner says:

    I really think all these projection systems are fascinating, and low on Jason Heyward. His elite plate discipline and patience will return, and probably this year. When it does, watch out. All of his numbers will follow in increase.

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    • Mike says:

      Yes, 4 WAR seems like the absolute minimum for Heyward, and that assumes no offensive improvement (an odd assumption for a 23 year old), and regression to league average defense. There is actually a fair bit of upside in these projections, which is amazing considering they give the Braves almost 50 WAR (removing Chipper’s 2.1).

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      • Izzy Hechkoff says:

        It projects Heyward as +11, not league average defense.

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        • Anon21 says:

          Yeah, the +11 seems fine (although, as below, I don’t know what stat it corresponds to). He could easily blow past it, but that’s a pretty aggressive defensive projection either way.

          I’m not sure I see the high walk rate coming back, and I disagree that 4.0 WAR is his floor. Even if he plays out a full season, he’s shown before that he can be too stubborn to sit out with an injury. Having said that, I’m devoutly hoping for an MVP-level (7 WAR+) campaign, and I think he’s got a better chance at that than most guys in the league.

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      • Phantom Stranger says:

        That elite walk rate Heyward had in his first year is not coming back unless he develops even more power. He can be pitched to and Jason had to start hacking a little more to generate regular contact last year.

        I do think he could steal 30 bases if he sets his mind to it. He’s got such a long body that stealing bases is easier for him than his raw speed would indicate.

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    • TKDC says:

      I love Heyward, but a .351 wOBA is not his minimum. That is what he did last year. Sure, he is much more likely to improve rather than not, but not everyone does. Just look at top prospect B.J. Upton who put up a .386 at age 22 and never approached that number again (yet).

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      • Mike says:

        Well, in his two full seasons at ages 20 and 22, he put together 5 and 6.6 WAR seasons. Barring an injury or some freakish explosion in league-wide offense, I struggle to see how he ends up at 4 WAR. Wouldn’t you agree that 6 is more likely than 4?

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        • shanemgardner says:

          Heyward has consistently shown more patience in his career than BJ Upton, minors and majors. His walk rate dropped last year as he was very aggressive at the plate and on the bases. He played like he had something to prove. He also had to realize that his late-season struggles are directly related to his low walk rate. I think his patience returns, his FB% continues to rise and his contact% rises too. Defensively, he’ll blow past 11 because he is an elite defender. 6 is more likely than 4, but he surely has the potential to hit 7+ WAR.

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        • TKDC says:

          Barring injury I think 6 is a bit more likely than 4. All I said was .351 was not his floor for offense. Of course, the term “floor” is pretty silly when you think about it. His “floor” is tearing his ACL and missing the whole season.

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  11. Jaack says:

    Hrbek is the obvious most awesome comp, and a Kirk Reuter is always relevant, but other than that this a pretty mediocre set of comps. Poor pack of excellent names.

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    • DL80 says:

      I don’t know…Pinky Higgins seems like a great baseball name (and played in the 1930s). Some brutal fielding numbers at 3B (how accurate can they be?) dragged his WAR down to 36.5.

      Plus, a gratuitous Chili Davis reference can’t be a bad thing.

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  12. TKDC says:

    I added up the guys likely to make the Braves 25-man roster and got 45.0. That doesn’t include Beachy, but it does include McCann. I also took Pastornicky over Janish, but that is a difference of .2 so that is a rounding error. I also didn’t take a last bullpen arm but whoever that is would likely be a rounding error, too.

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  13. Anon21 says:

    I guess I’m not sure what “DEF” corresponds to in these projections; is it same as “FLD” in the player dashboard? If so, and if Simmons hits that PA target, he should easily triple that DEF projection. Maybe quadruple.

    The power projections all look reasonable, but I would not be surprised to see two of Heyward, Freeman, and Justin Upton (all pre-prime, remember) break out to 30+ home runs. Conversely, I would not be surprised to see Chipper Jones hit as few as zero home runs in a major league game this year. I know he’s an all-time great, but players reach a certain point in their career and their production tends to just fall off a cliff…

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    • bstar says:

      I agree. Let’s remember what DRS said about Simmons’ performance last year: 19 fielding runs in 49 games. That would have broken the all-time record for fielding runs had he played 150 games.

      Two WAR? I think Simmons will have 2.5 WAR minimum BY THE BREAK, and it doesn’t matter what he hits.

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  14. Andrew says:

    Wow. Pretty bearish on Justin Upton.

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    • Mike says:

      Sort of overlooked that at first, but the wOBA projection is 20 points lower than his career average – seems really bearish for a 25 year old, even one moving from a hitters park to a neutral park.

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      • Josh says:

        Very bearish. And obviously Simmons isn’t being projected at leadoff like he’s going to be. He’ll get more than that war total in defense alone.

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        • Jason B says:

          He may, but he also may detract from his WAR total with his hitting (or lack thereof).

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        • Anon21 says:

          It’s not a given that his hitting will harm his overall value; is a .298 wOBA even below league average for a full-time shortstop?

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        • Jason B says:

          I know, I didn’t say it was a given. Just said that it might. I think that’s the great unknown on Simmons; if his hitting progresses he could be legitimately good (or above average), if not he could become another league average-ish,”good glove, no hit” SS. Which obviously still has some value.

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        • Anon21 says:

          Argued with Dave about it in the chat, but: I think even if his bat regresses quite a bit (keeping in mind that his 102+ wRC of last year is very good for a shortstop), he will be an above league-average player because he’ll be the best defender in baseball by a country mile.

          We shall see! I’m excited to watch him develop.

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  15. Spencer says:

    Definitely seems high on McCann, but that should level out, and then some, with the low projection for Simmons. Simmons produced 2.2 WAR in 49 games last season. Much of it had to do with a surprising performance at the plate over a small sample, but even regressed, 2 WAR seems extremely low. If Brendan Ryan is worth 2 WAR, Simmons is surely much above that.
    The rotation seems almost impossible to project, but if Beachy can come back and be that productive, I would be thrilled. Not sure Hanson would outperform Teheran as the #5, as ZiPS shows for Hanson in LA, but with a bullpen like Atlanta’s, he can go out knowing he only needs 5 good innings.
    A 46 FIP- for Kimbrel? I wish I could say that is stupid and optimistic, but holy cow, he’s good.
    Reed Johnson should be much better than -0.3 WAR, as he should only be used in favorable situations, but that doesn’t really matter too much. ZiPS seems a little low on Avilan as well after a good 2012.
    The best thing with these projections, is that I don’t see anyone performing below the projection, except maybe BJ Upton and Freeman, who may be just below 4 and 3, respectively. Everyone else should be above their projection, if not right at it. 3 and 4 is very conservative for J-Up and Heyward. 2 for Uggla may even be the floor if he keeps walking like he did in 2012. I’m glad to see even a regressed Medlen still looks like the real deal, and I can’t wait to watch this NL East race.

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    • Tim says:

      Exactly how I feel. I think McCann will underperform but Simmons, Justin Upton, and Heyward should over perform. This should be an exciting NL East race, although I dont see how the Braves pass the Nats

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      • Anon21 says:

        Gio gets suspended, Harper misses some time with an injury… it’s not at all hard to imagine how it could happen, but it does require a lot of things to break the Braves’ way.

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      • JT says:

        The Nats are the most overrated team in baseball this year. The Braves will take the NL East.

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  16. jfree says:

    Evan Gattis looks like an interesting deep league sleeper. Or prob just “watch list”. An emergency C/LF/1B/DH who hits really well but is too old to be a prospect (because he gave up baseball for a few years). Some AL team can use him for a playoff run in Aug/Sep.

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  17. Phantom Stranger says:

    If I were the Braves, I would not be in any hurry to extend McCann. It looks like the years of catching have caught up with him and the Braves don’t have the luxury of a DH spot for his bat. I would be planning for the next catcher in Atlanta if I were the GM.

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    • Spencer says:

      They’ve put talks aside until after the season. It really can’t end well for Atlanta. Either McCann bounces back and prices himself out of the Braves’ range, or he continues to struggle and doesn’t get an adequate offer from ATL and walks.
      The one way it could favor the Braves, is if he has a fringe year, but the trainers are medically encouraged by his progress, and he maintains a low price tag, while the Braves are the only ones aware of his improved medical condition.

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      • deadpool says:

        Much as I love McCann, I’d have to say that not signing him probably ends well for him. Signing him until he’s 34-35 probably ends badly no matter what they pay all things considered.

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    • Antonio bananas says:

      Actually. With the constant interleague, beast is more valuable than he wasayearago because there are more DH games.

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  18. rusty says:

    Kimbrel projected to be worth 2.5 wins over the course of 7.7 games’ worth of innings.

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  19. CFG250 says:

    I’ll take the Braves over the Nationals. Nationals may have better starting pitching but the Braves have the better position players and bullpen. The Braves rotation will be much better if Beachy comes back strong in the second half and the bottom of the rotation should be good enough to keep them in games especially with that bullpen.

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    • Baltar says:

      This is a free country. That’s generally good, but the downside is that everyone is free to express opinions like this one.

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      • Undocorkscrew says:

        Come on. You’ve certainly proven yourself to be as much of one as this CFG250 fella. There wasn’t anything too outlandish with what he/she said. Braves do have the better pen on paper, and while I disagree with the comments on offense, the Nationals don’t really hold a significant advantage on offense.

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  20. Common Braves Commenter says:

    This is all wrong. Heyward will better than this. Upton will be better than this. Simmons will be better than this. Then the Braves will trade Jair Jurrjens for Adam Jones, and he’ll play at least average D at 3B. I mean, 3B is easier than CF.

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  21. HMH says:

    Andrelton Simmons 14 sb to 10 cs?

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    • deadpool says:

      He’s not good at stealing bases, but tries. Fast != good at base stealing. One of the many reasons the idea that putting speed at the top of the lineup is a fallacy.

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      • Nitram Odarp says:

        Getting thrown out a bunch in his first full professional season doesn’t exactly prove that he’s bad at stealing bases. Teams kind of encourage guys to push the envelope early on stealing bases so they can get a feel for how good they are at and when they should or shouldn’t steal bases. Simmons looked just fine in AA, stealing 10 in 12 attempts, and he made it on his 1 attempt in the majors.

        Sometimes people lose sight of the fact that the minors are about developing skills to get ready for the majors, not putting up the prettiest numbers for people that love stats.

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        • deadpool says:

          And some of us remember scouting reports that have consistently agreed that Simmons was likely to be a below average base stealer, which lines up pretty well with that one season.

          The minors may be a place to learn, but it’s also important to remember that the level of competition in the minors is significantly less. Especially in areas like steals, where catchers aren’t usually done developing defensively.

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        • Nitram Odarp says:

          Not sure what scouting reports you were reading. The ones I did said he was raw on the bases, probably due to the fact that he’s the rare international player that didn’t sign before he was 18 and ended up at an American JuCo. In no way did they indicate that he shouldn’t get better with experience and reps. Not surprisingly he did, as seen by the large improvement in SB % last year.

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    • TKDC says:

      ZiPS knows Fredi’s tendency to hit and run with guys in the worst situations for success.

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  22. Antonio bananas says:

    Is that 2 WAR for Simmon’s defense?

    Also, would it be safe to assume that the Braves have the biggest shot at outperforming this give the ridiculous amount of guys who are under 27starting everyday? Freeman, Heyward, Simmons, and JUpton could all see huge gains and it wouldn’t be surprising. Pitching is the same way with medlen, beachy, Teheran, and especially beachy.

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  23. braves5795 says:

    1st comment,
    simmons will be roy, if applicable, his defense and play is significantly above war.

    Uggla has to MAKE BETTER CONTACT this yr.

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  24. HMH says:

    Simmons had 18 sb to 4 cs at Danville but was inefficient on the base paths the next year at Lynchburg swiping 26 bags but getting caught 18 times. Last year, his age 22 season, he stole 10 bases in double a while getting caught twice and after his promotion to the majors he managed to steal one base without getting caught. I think the jury is still out on the type of base stealer he is but mainly I don’t believe Fredi would let Andrelton steal that much if he was that awful.

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  25. Pecota says:

    From Baseball Prospectus Official Pecota Projections for 2013:

    Team W L
    Washington 88 74
    Atlanta Braves 82 80
    New York Mets 80 82
    Philadelphia 80 82
    Miami Marlins 66 96

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    • Anon21 says:

      Honestly, those projections don’t pass the test of common sense. The Nationals are better than that, the Braves are much better than that, and the Mets are much worse than that.

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      • Pecota says:

        Then take it up with Baseball Prospectus.

        Personally, I don’t see how Upton/Upton/Johnson can adequately replace Jones/Prado/Bourn. I also question the Braves’ rotation.

        At any rates, that’s what Pecota gives.

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        • cthabeerman says:

          Upton/Upton/Johnson doesn’t have to.

          Simmons will play all season, which should cover most of Chipper’s 3 WAR (mostly on defense, in Simmons’s case) as well as his own. Francisco/Johnson will cover the rest and then some. Will also easily cover the contributions of Pastornicky/Janish’s time.

          Justin can cover or exceed Prado, if he returns to form. Less on defense, more on offense (balances the Simmons part of the equation).

          B.J. can’t cover Bourn, in all likelihood, but he doesn’t have to. You can expect improvements from at least Heyward and Freeman. McCann 2013 should be better than the 2012 version, to cover more of Bourn’s spot. Uggla will very likely cover his own down performance, unless he’s truly done, but that’s more of a toss-up.

          So, when you look at it, it’s possible without even stretching the realm of possibility. You just have to look at the whole picture, rather than fixating on the external losses and gains. There’s plenty of gains without looking outside of the returning players.

          -C

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        • Pecota says:

          So, what you’re saying is that in the rosiest scenario that lost production would be covered, right? Well what if the production from the others is the same or less than last year? You can’t always count for the rosiest outcomes.

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        • Spencer says:

          Then you’re looking at a 94 win team.

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        • Pecota says:

          That doesn’t equate. If you get less production from Upton/Upton/Johnson, plus the same or less production from everyone else, that’s fewer wins than last year.

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        • Nitram Odarp says:

          You seem to be ignoring the fact that the Braves will have a full season of Simmons instead of having a sub-replacement level Tyler Pastornicky and replacement level Paul Janish starting for 2/3 of the season.

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        • Pecota says:

          No. Not ignoring that. Simmons is projected for just a 2.3 WAR. And he may suffer a sophomore slump.

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        • Anon21 says:

          2.3 WAR is an astounding 4.4 WAR more than the Braves received from the combined efforts of Pastornicky, Wilson, and Janish last season. So… might want to rethink that “just,” if you want to make an accurate comparison between last year’s squad and this one.

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        • Nitram Odarp says:

          Yes, and that projection is clearly undervaluing Simmons because it doesn’t it is regressing his defense way too far towards league average. If you think Simmons is only a +6 defender at SS, you clearly haven’t watched him play. Sadly the projection systems don’t get to consider the scouting reports that backup Simmons elite defensive value continuing going forward.

          And as someone else mentioned, the 3 guys he’s replacing (I forgot about Jack Wilson) managed to be worth -2.1 WAR last year. Just by getting those guys out of the lineup, the Braves should improve significantly.

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        • Nitram Odarp says:

          ignore “it doesn’t” in the first paragraph. Changed the wording around and forgot to delete it.

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        • Pecota says:

          Except you shouldn’t be comparing a year of Simmons to Janish/Wilson/Pasternicky in 2012. It should be a comparison of a year of Simmons to a year of Simmons/Janish/Wilson/Pasternicky.

          Braves shortstops in 2012 had a net 0.1 WAR in 633 PA. That included Simmons, Janish, Wilson and Pasternicky.

          Simmons is projected to have a 2.3 WAR in 526 PA in 2013. Let’s say you prorate his projected 2013 WAR to 633 PA, then you have a WAR of roughly 2.8. So that would be a net difference of 2.7 WAR between 2012 and 2013. Not a big difference.

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        • Nitram Odarp says:

          2.7 wins is a pretty sizeable difference. It puts the Braves closer to the Nats than the Mets, which has been the primary complaint here.

          Besides, does anyone even take Pecota seriously anymore? I stopped paying attention to it after Matt Weiters broke it before the 2009 season.

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        • Pecota says:

          How much closer the Braves would move to the Nats would depend on how much Upton/Upton/Johnson can make up for Jones/Prado/Bourn. (And also how well the rotation does in relation to last year.) My premise was that those 3 would underperform as a group in relation to the players they are replacing.

          I take PECOTA as seriously as any other projection system. Haven’t all projection systems been “broken” by one player or another? I was under the impression that PECOTA was as reliable as ZIPS or anything else.

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        • Pecota says:

          Here’s part of my point: Chipper/Prado/Bourn gave the Braves 15.3 fWAR in 2012. According to ZIPS, Upton/Upton/Johnson are good for 7 fWAR in 2013. That’s a difference of 8.3 WAR just in those 3 players! If Simmons gives the Braves 2.7 extra WAR, then the Braves still have to make up 5.6 WAR someplace else just to replicate last year — and that’s assuming no downgrade in production from any other place on the team (which I find hard to fathom given their questionable rotation).

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        • Nitram Odarp says:

          PECOTA projected a .311/.395/.544 line for Weiters as a rookie. I’m not sure any other projection system has ever been so obviously wrong on any single player. Everyone knew beforehand that it was completely ridiculous and it pointed to a problem under the hood for PECOTA.

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        • Nitram Odarp says:

          Okay, but if the Braves lose 5-6 wins over last season, that would put them at 88-89 wins, not the 82 that Pecota projected. This is leaving aside obvious flaws inherent to the system that likely undersell how good the Braves are to begin with (can’t consider Upton’s struggles were clearly caused by injury or how good the scouting reports on Simmons defense are).

          Why don’t we just stop discussing Pecota all together? I don’t think most people have taken it seriously since the Weiters debacle and the projected records above for the Braves and Nats clearly don’t pass the smell test. You can think the Braves will regress from last season while still believing a projected record of 82-80 is completely wrong. Those opinions aren’t mutually exclusive.

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        • Pecota says:

          I would be shocked if ZIPS — or any other projection system — didn’t have their own comparable “Wieters” projection flop. I would look for one, but I don’t have access to a historical ZIPS database or the db for any other projection system.

          I don’t think you need to take PECOTA literally either. Just use it as an indicator/warning sign of a team’s weaknesses and strength relative to other teams in the division.

          If you have the 2012 Braves team playing the 2013 Nats, the results may be different because I think the Nats have improved the most within the division. The Phillies may also be a little stronger if they don’t have the number of injuries they had last year. Therefore, it would be a mistake to assume 94 wins as a starting point for the 2013 Braves. Or to use 2012 wins as a starting point for ANY team, be it the Braves or Orioles or Giants.

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        • Pecota says:

          Also, from what I understand, PECOTA is continually tweaked from year to year. I’m sure they’ve adjusted whatever formula that went into producing the Weiters projection flop.

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        • Nitram Odarp says:

          ZIPS doesn’t project those sort of lines for anyone, let alone a rookie that hasn’t played above AA at the most physically and mentally demanding position in the game. It was mocked from the outset. Everyone knew it was ridiculous. This isn’t looking back in hindsight and laughing at a bad prediction. Everyone at the time knew it was dumb.

          Do you really think an 88 win prediction for the Nats passes the smell test? Because I think that one is every bit as bad, if not worse, than the Braves projection.

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        • Pecota says:

          As I said, the PECOTA formula is tweaked almost every year. I’m sure they’ve adjusted whatever formula spit out the over-optimistic Weiters projection. Even PECOTA would likely not replicate such a projection today.

          And yes, I think the Nats projection does pass the smell test if you take the projected standings more as an indication of relative strength and weaknesses rather than literally.

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        • Anon21 says:

          Well, you have to take them literally, because they distribute total wins across the league. So if the Nats are going to win 88 games, that means some other team(s) is much stronger than everyone else thinks.

          I would seriously recommend that you stop defending Pecota on this. The projected standings have no value if you reimagine them as metaphorical relative strength comparisons; if that’s what the system was trying to get at, they would just put out playoff odds in percentage form. That they chose to do this in the form of standings means we get to judge them as standings. And the verdict is: those projected standings are completely ridiculous, and they will be off by tons of wins at the end of the year.

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        • Pecota says:

          I say not to take them literally because of the unknowns like injuries and how players age. Also just one team much stronger or weaker than predicted could have repercussions not only on teams within its division, but also throughout the entire league, not to mention in interleague play. So that’s why I think one should look at this as just a barometer of relative strength, on paper, pre-season.

          I also disagree about simply giving playoff odds. People are used to seeing things in terms of standings, so that gives a clearer idea than simply giving odds. They may be off by tons by the end of the season, either way for any team, but perhaps in terms of relative strength they have validity more often than not. If you don’t like the standings, that’s your choice. But I like this format for projections.

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        • Anon21 says:

          You seem to be missing the central point: the projections for all the teams together add up. So what Pecota is saying by projecting the Braves at 82-80 is that they are, relative to all the other teams in baseball, a very-slightly-better-than-average team. That’s nonsense, and you have totally failed to show why it’s not nonsense. You need to demonstrate why the most likely outcome for a team that won 94 games last year and consists of a solid majority of returning players is that it will collapse to league average.

          You’ve twisted and turned trying to artificially limit the scope of analysis, but in the end you’ve only managed to find 5-6 wins (and even those are questionable) to knock off the 2012 total. Thus, you’ve failed. Stop pretending Pecota’s ridiculous projections have anything valuable to tell us.

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        • Pecota says:

          Oh no, I completely understand that the wins and losses have to even out. What I am saying, though, is not to take the exact records so literally. For example, the overall number of wins in the NL East could be higher or lower than is shown in the PECOTA standing …maybe add 2 wins to each team (and there would of course be corresponding losses in another division) … but that the relative strengths of each team pre-season, on paper, are what’s the important thing reflected here.

          So, it’s not all too pertinent that the Braves are listed at 82-80. And while the Braves may very well be a 90 win team, I personally see a lot of potential weaknesses in their rotation, mostly having to do with durability throughout the season. I also doubt Upton/Upton/Johnson can adequately replace Jones/Prado/Bourn.

          I can’t prove that PECOTA is right, but you can’t prove it is wrong either. As I said, I think the Braves rotation PLUS the loss of Jones/Prado/Bourn will be the reasons they won’t be as strong as some think. If you are a Braves fan, sorry I offended you. It’s just my opinion. It happens to coincide with PECOTA. You are free to believe what you want. Just don’t place a bet this year for the Braves to make the WS, lol.

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    • Derek says:

      Yeah the idea that there is a bigger gap between the Nats and the Braves than there is between the Braves and the Mets is silly.

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      • Pecota says:

        Are you a Braves fan? Maybe you are over-estimating the ability of Upton/Upton/Johnson to replace Jones/Prado/Bourn, as well as their rotation?

        Who are the Braves starting 5 this year?

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        • Anon21 says:

          Medlen, Hudson, Minor, Maholm, and Teheran. Was that supposed to be a difficult question to answer, or…?

          As to whether Upton, Upton, and Johnson can replace the production of Prado, Bourn, and (part-time) Chipper: maybe not, although it’s pretty close. But they also get a full season of Medlen starting, a full season of Simmons starting, and will likely see performance improvements from one or more of Heyward, Freeman, and J. Upton. And even if you think after all that that they aren’t quite as good a team as last-year, projecting a 12-game collapse in the standings is just stupid. It could happen with multiple long-term injuries, but I doubt that’s why pecota is saying what it’s saying; I think it’s just kind of a crappy projection system, something which has been observed at the player level for going on 6 years now.

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        • Spencer says:

          Medlen, Hudson, Minor, Maholm, Teheran. It’s true that the positional player swap is a push for 2013, but the improvement is within the rotation. Just because the rotation is the weakest part of the team, that’s saying more for the other units than taking away from the rotation. Think about it this way. A full season of Maholm to replace Tommy Hanson – big improvement. A full season of Teheran/Beachy/veteran FA to replace Jurrjens/Sheets/Delgado – improvement (it couldn’t get worse than Jurrjens). Look at Mike Minor’s numbers from late May-September. He was one of the best pitchers in baseball once his HR/FB numbers came back down to Earth. Adding Walden should be a big improvement over Chad Durbin. Also, Freeman, Justin Upton, Heyward, and Simmons are young and improving, not declining. ANY kind of bounce back from McCann or Uggla will help.
          This is a team that won 94 games last year, and through progression alone should be a 95+ win team. Pecota projected 85 wins for ATL last year, and they won 94. I’m not worried at all about what Pecota says.

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        • Pecota says:

          None of those 5 pitched close to 200 innings last season. How many of them can be expected to reach that goal this season? Maybe only Hudson, Minor and Maholm? It’s unlikely Medlen and Teheran can do it, as their 2012 innings totals were so low, so who is going to pitch those extra innings this year?

          Maybe that uncertainty, combined with Hudson’s age, has Pecota concerned.

          Even if Pecota is conservative with win totals, if you were to bump everyone up in the division by a few wins, the Braves still don’t come out that much better relatively speaking. Personally, I think the Nationals will win the division handily, and that there will be a close race for the 2 extra WC spots among teams from all 3 divisions.

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        • Anon21 says:

          Teheran will probably not reach 200 innings this year.

          Medlen could reach 200 IP easily, unless he gets injured; the reason he threw so few last season is because he was used as a reliever until the end of July, partly because he was coming off Tommy John surgery in 2010. Three years removed from the surgery, I think the Braves will absolutely let him throw as many innings as they can.

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        • Pecota says:

          Medlen has never thrown more than 140 innings at any level in baseball. It might be a stretch to expect him to throw close to 200 innings this year. So the Braves may have to find alternatives.

          Will the Braves have some real good starting candidates at AAA or AA this year?

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        • Spencer says:

          There were only 31 pitchers in ALL OF BASEBALL that threw 200 innings last season. And you think the Braves should be responsible for 3 of them? Hudson missed all of April, but is consistently around or above the 200 inning limit. Also, why would you wear down your starters with a bullpen that can take over in the 6th inning? This year’s bullpen adds Walden, and uses Avilan/Gearrin for L/R matchups and replaces the 90+ innings that Durbin and Livan ‘contributed’ in 2012. The Atlanta bullpen is projected to be worth 7 WAR. So I don’t know what it is with you and the Braves but you are just set on avoiding what is actually there. The Braves have pitching depth in the minors in Gilmartin, Graham, and Northcraft, although you’d like for the last two guys to wait until 2014 to make their appearance. Wren also signed a pitcher out of the Mexican League that has led the league in K’s for two years in a row. He isn’t impact, but he’s emergency depth.

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        • Pecota says:

          Huh? I said “close to 200″ innings. Even 180 IPs would be good, and there were 62 starters who logged at least 180 innings in the majors last season. And the point isn’t that the Braves should have three starters who logged close to that, but starters like Teheran and Medlen have never come even remotely close. So the Braves will likely have to bridge the gap. So, will they have good starting candidates at AAA and AA who can fill in?

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        • Pecota says:

          And yes, I know the Braves bullpen is good and can absorb some innings, but they can only do so much. And Hudson is really getting up there in age, so there’s no telling how that might impact his ability to pitch a full season. I really think the Braves rotation is highly questionable this year and not geared to go the distance. They may do well for the first half, but in the second half, watch out! Of course, Wren can always make a mid-season trade, if necessary.

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        • Nitram Odarp says:

          Beachy is supposed to be back at midseason. He probably won’t immediately start pitching at a high level or anything, but I don’t think expecting league average or better performance is that crazy.

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  26. Teddy says:

    Now hold on I’m a nats fan here, but there is no way the braves only win 82 games. Please tell me where there lineup from last season to this season loses 12 GAMES. You could make an argument for a couple assuming a bunch of players under perform, but even then if they produce close to their career averages they will be a 90 win team. The PECOTA projections are flat out wrong, i wouldn’t be surprised to see the braves win 100+ games, same with the nats but the mets 2 games away from the braves come on man.

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  27. Troutman says:

    I’m not sure how Harper gets projected to 6 war but Heyward gets projected to 4 war… Also, zips needs to add injuries to its analysis. Upton’s projection was hurt by the thumb injury and McCann/Laird should be rated lower with consideration of the shoulder injury. Also, I’m not sure how Simmons gets a 2 war projection.

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  28. zipperz says:

    Good Lord, Kimbrel is projected to K 119 in 69 IP with a 40 FIP-

    I think this guy can pitch a little. I remember the young K-Rod being fairly dominant, but I think Kimbrel broke the comp system.

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  29. Paul Holmes says:

    With groundballers like Tim Hudson and Paul Maholm, the Braves need to start their best defensive infielders for whenever the groundballers are on the mound. I just did a very linear regression and groundballers like Hudson and Malom have a (85% !!!) correlation between LOB% and ERA. Simply put, they need Nick Ahmed on their 25 man roster, and Andrelton Simmons at their shortstop, to give Hudson and Maholm their best games. The Braves can’t have the Uggla, the worst defensive 2nd basemen in the league, start when his defense is truly a liability.

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    • Paul Holmes says:

      I overlooked this but it appears Medlen is also a groundball pitcher. Amazing. Their K pitchers, Hanson and Minor had terrible years, whereas Hudsom, Maholm and Medlen had career years.

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  30. Carry On My Heyward Son says:

    All this projection talk makes me that much more anxious to see matters settled on the field. Hurry up, baseball season!

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