Fantasy Baseball Team Previews – Atlanta Braves

The Atlanta Braves had little expectations entering 2015 and the same will be the case when they kick off their 2016 season. They are one of three teams in this division in the middle of a rebuild, which makes the NL East very unwatchable unless you are a fan of one of the teams or investing in some of these young guys in fantasy. The Braves will be looking to move pieces around this year and try to see what they have in a couple of major league guys as well as giving a couple of prospects the chance to win a starting role going forward.

The Braves have made some nice offseason moves. The big fish was the acquisition of Dansby Swanson, Aaron Blair and Ender Inciarte in return for sending Shelby Miller to Arizona. They also added Erick Aybar and Sean Newcomb from the Angels in return for sending Andrelton Simmons the other direction. Finally, they sent Cameron Maybin to Detroit for a couple of relievers that won’t have much, if any, fantasy impact. On the free agent front they kept hold of Jim Johnson to add some bullpen depth and give them a potential trade piece and they added some other veteran pieces to get warm bodies in the roles in order to tick them over for when their young guys are ready.

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Overall, the Braves had a pretty solid offseason but from a fantasy point of view the headlines aren’t great and there is a limited number of fantasy relevant options available right now. This isn’t a team you are going to spend long watching unless they call up one or two of their big name prospects.

AL East

AL Central AL West NL East NL Central NL West


Chicago WS Houston Atlanta Chicago



Cleveland Los Angeles A Miami Cincinnati Colorado

New York Y


Oakland New York M Milwaukee

Los Angeles D

Tampa Bay

Kansas City Texas Philadelphia Pittsburgh

San Diego

Toronto Minnesota Seattle Washington St. Louis

San Francisco

Projected Starting Line-up

  1. Ender Inciarte
  2. Erick Aybar
  3. Nick Markakis
  4. Freddie Freeman
  5. Adonis Garcia
  6. AJ Piersynski (vs RH), Tyler Flowers (vs LH)
  7. Jace Peterson (vs RH), Gordon Beckham (vs LH)
  8. Michael Bourn (vs RH), Nick Swisher (vs LH)

Freddie Freeman, 1B

Coming out of 2013 huge things were expected from Freddie Freeman in fantasy. However, things have fallen off a little since then with him having failed to reach 20 homers either of the last two seasons and a poor team around him, meaning he has struggled to get runs and RBI. Freeman struggled last season with some injuries and so only managed to play 118 games so actually 18 homers in a shortened season is a good sign of things to come this year hopefully. I have Freeman projected for 23 homers at a 0.280 batting average with 170 combined runs and RBI. That makes Freeman my ninth first baseman right now and he represents one of the last guys before the big fall off at the position. He is currently going outside the top 50 and in some cases as late as the 70th overall pick where I believe he becomes a must draft if you haven’t jumped on one of the top eight first baseman that have gone before him. It gets murky after Freeman and then it gets downright messy after Hosmer so you don’t want to get left out.

Ender Inciarte, OF

Can Ender Inciarte be the answer atop the order for the Braves?

Can Ender Inciarte be the answer atop the order for the Braves?

Inciarte had a pretty good season for the Diamondbacks in 2015, but he will be looking to improve on a distinctly average 66% success rate for stealing bases in his new home in 2016. Almost a sub-part of the Shelby Miller/Dansby Swanson trade Inciarte is a solid hitter who could be the table setter for the Braves for years to come. With Inciarte projected to be a full time guy in 2016, if can get his steals success rate close to the impressive 86% he had in 2014 then he could easily steal 25 bases this season. I do expect some batting average regression with a 0.290 number being pretty much dead in between his performances so far in the majors. At the 186th pick Inciarte offers decent value as is someone I more than happy to have as a low end third/high end fourth outfielder.

Nick Markakis, OF

Markakis is an interesting fantasy option because he is a guy who averages close to 160 games per season and should get to bat third in this Braves line-up this year. That means there should be opportunities to drive in Aybar and Inciarte but also chances to be driven in by Freeman. There is some concern that Markakis only hit three homers last year, and therefore I have been unable to project him to score double digit homers, but I do expect some increase with seven or eight being a decent number. This is the problem for Markakis, he doesn’t have great power and it is unlikely he gets five steals and it is also unlikely he hits 0.290-plus again this season. However, the potential to put up 150 combined runs and RBI with those eight homers does put him close to a usable guy in roto leagues. His draft position of 270-ish is pretty much spot on but there are more exciting guys I would probably want to take chances on at that stage of the draft.

Erick Aybar, SS

Last season I dismissed Aybar out of hand because I considered him just safe, and I wanted exciting. The risk with going for exciting at the shortstop position is that there is very little on the waiver wire if it blows up in your face. That is why I have come to appreciate Aybar, who can give you that solid 10-15 steals with a 0.270-ish batting average and play close to every day. Aybar is currently being drafted as the 24th shortstop off the board at close to pick 300, so this is a guy I am definitely going to target late in drafts if I couldn’t bring myself to pull the trigger on the young guys early or I miss out on Peralta later in drafts.

Any Other Business?

  • Adonis Garcia, 3B: Garcia showed some nice power in 2015 with 10 homers in 191 AB’s and still managed to put up a decent (0.280ish) batting average. If that power is true, then as a potential full-ish time player 20 homers with a 0.270 average is an exciting possibility for Garcia but the looming potential of Hector Oliviera prevents me getting too excited.
  • AJ Piersynski, C: A two catcher league guy who has a wide range of outcomes. 5-10 homers with a 0.270 batting average is the kind of middle of the road projection but he is too ‘random’ to put much stock in.

Projected Rotation

  1. Julio Teheran
  2. Matt Wisler
  3. Manny Banuelos
  4. Bud Norris
  5. Williams Perez

Julio Teheran

Can Julio Teheran recapture his 2014 form or is 2015 more like what we can expect going forward?

Can Julio Teheran recapture his 2014 form or is 2015 more like what we can expect going forward?

Teheran had a tough 2015 as he saw his ERA increase by over a run, his WHIP increase by 0.25 and his walks per nine increase from 2.1 to 3.3. The control was the crux of the problem as his strikeout rate was the same as previous years and his hits and homers per nine were the same as 2013, when he put up a 3.20 ERA. Therefore, this year is all about the control for Teheran and if he can sort that he could get back close to the 2013 numbers. At 160-ish off the board he is in a place where I would be happy to take a shot on the upside that he can be close to the 2013 numbers but even if he falls a little short I still see him being better than last year and returning value close to his current draft position.

Mike Foltynewicz and Matt Wisler

These are the two main upside guys of the group. Wisler is currently projected in the rotation so is the safer of the two. However, neither is much more than a week to week streaming option except in NL only or super deep mixed leagues.


Jason Grilli

The Braves are likely to try and squeeze every ounce of value they can out of Grilli

The Braves are likely to try and squeeze every ounce of value they can out of Grilli

If Grilli is healthy then I think he starts the year as the closer. Atlanta are in a full re-build and so they are happy for Grilli to increase his value and then try and trade him to a contending team near the trade deadline. However, this is the problem, Grilli is awesome and he gets traded but, Grilli sucks and he probably gets replaced. What this means is you cannot put much draft stock into him but if you can grab him super late then he should get some early season saves.

Next Man Up:

Arodys Vizcaino

This is the eventual closer for Altanta but they know there is no value in running up his value early this season. They are going to use Grilli and perhaps even Jim Johnson to see if they can get some trade value out of them before turning the keys over to Vizcaino later this year, potentially. If Grilli really sucks early then I think the Braves give Johnson a shot and therefore, I don’t see how Vizcaino gets more than 20 saves this season given there won’t be a huge amount of opportunities in this Braves team.

Prospect Potential

  • Hector Olivera, 3B/OF: Olivera had a shot at the major last season with Atlanta where he hit 0.250 with two homers in 79 AB’s. He came from Cuba with a reputation as a double digit homer runs hitter (in 80-90 games) and Atlanta will be hoping that at age 30 he still has some of that power in him. He should start the season in the minors but Atlanta will want to know what they have sooner rather than later. I have him with 10 home runs this season but it is so dependent on playing time that it is hard to draft him and better to wait until we know when he is coming up to the big leagues.
  • Mallex Smith, OF: With the flurry of additions over the winter Smith has almost become something of a forgotten man in Atlanta. He stole an impressive 57 bases between AA and AAA in 2015 and hit for a 0.306 average. He doesn’t have any power to speak of so there is always going to be a cap on his draft position for that reason. However, Smith could legitimately be a 40-50 steal, 0.280 hitting leadoff man for the Braves for years to come. When he gets called up this year he is worth a speculative add especially if you need a steals boost.
  • Aaron Blair, SP: It is unlikely Blair breaks camp in the Braves roster but don’t be surprised if he comes up in May or June. This Atlanta rotation doesn’t have much to blow you away so I think Blair should get every opportunity. His numbers aren’t spectacular and we are looking at more of a back end starter for fantasy. Not someone to draft but he should be a mid-season pick up who at worst could have streaming potential.


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