Catcher: There will be a battle this spring training on who will take the starting job when the first series of the years come against the Phillies. Currently, Justin O’Conner, who has age on his side, is projected to be in the starting role by our manager but the front office is waiting to see if Andrew Susac can get back into his 2016 form on the offensive side. Both are above-average guys in terms of defensive but O’Conner has shown himself to be one of the best in the league when it comes to being behind the plate.
First Base: I don’t think there is a question as to who will take this position, Freddie Freeman is making this to be his ninth season with the Braves. The only question we would have from him is will we see the Freeman from the past or will we will the 120 game Freeman from last year.
Second Base: Jose Peraza will be taking over this position. Since making his first full season in ‘16, Peraza has been very strong since he has come up. Consistently hitting in the mid .280’s and on defense he is incredible. A ZR rating on +10.4 and only 8 errors in 446 attempts last season.
Third Base: In the hot corner we have Jake Lamb. Last year was a definite speed bump for Lamb from his ‘16 campaign; he fell more in the line of his ‘15 season than anything. No matter, he still completed the season with a 3.5 WAR and is able to control that corner position with a total of a +5.8 ZR with both the Braves and the Diamondbacks.
Shortstop: In Jeter’s hole we have Jorge Polanco. Polanco had a breakout year in 2017 with a line of .289/.354/.420 and a 4.6 WAR. He came over from the Alex Wood trade in 2015 and has been a solid piece for the Braves over the past two season.
Left Field: The other piece that came over with Polanco in the Wood trade was Oswaldo Arcia. Arcia last year ruptured his medial collateral ligament while rounding the bases after hitting a double in the early portion of spring training. The front office is ecstatic to have him back after killing it in ‘16. Had a line of .264/.344/.473 and hit behind Freeman where he had 110 RBIs and knocking 29 HRs. He is the most anticipated piece in the lineup we are waiting to see this Spring Training.
Center Field: The newcomer, Ender Inciarte, will be handling the center field position. Inciarte came over to the Braves in early February and will look to be slotted straight into the lineup. Had a split of .293/.317/.352 and that earned him a 3.7 WAR in 2017 with the Diamondbacks. We are seeing a slight decrease over the years in average BUT we see him compensate that in other areas to make up for it. He is a strong defensive force where he has averaged a +16.4 ZR over the past two seasons.
Right Field: The extremely popular, fan favorite, Matt Kemp will be holding down the fort in Right FIeld. When he came over from the Nationals at the trade deadline he sure did struggle. Started hot and quickly joined in with the rest of the Braves. We hope to see his ‘16 and ‘17 production with the Nationals make an appearance this season. Not a strong defensive player, but Inciarte could help make up that ground for him.
Starting Pitching: The #1 this season is another easy choice. Jordan Jankowski is a 2017 All-Star and can be a Cy Young contender. Over the past two seasons, Jankowski has given us a total of 28 wins and a 6.6 WAR. This season he will be let loose for destruction and hope to see the same results over this next season to help project the pitching and defense priorities that this front office envisions.
Honorable Mention Starting Pitcher: Kendall Graveman is a guy that the front office has fallen in love with. Last season he finished 3rd in the Rookie of the Year voting and had a 10 win season with 199 innings pitched and earned himself a 4.7 WAR in the process.
Closer: Shae Simmons will be shutting the door once again for the Braves in 2018. In the young 2017 season when the Braves got off to a hot start, Simmons had 18 saves in the first two months. After that, the Braves couldn’t get anything going and Simmons had to pretty much just wait his turn to make the magic happen. The 27-year-old had 73 appearances with 103 strikeouts and finished the year with 39 saves in a 70 win season. The front office expects him to see more action in those crucial situations in 2018.
- R Jose Peraza
- L Ender Inciarte
- L Freddie Freeman
- R Matt Kemp
- L Jake Lamb
- L Oswaldo Arcia
- R Justin O’Conner
- S Jorge Polanco
- CL R Shea Simmons
- SU L Chasen Shreve
- SU R Arodys Vizcaino
- MR R R.J. Alvarez
- MR L Andrew McKirahan
- MR R Hunter Strickland
- MR Open