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2019 Atlanta Braves Preview

by admin on Monday, March 4th, 2019

freddie freeman atlanta braves The 2018 Atlanta Braves were a team few people believed in last year, yet they prevailed to take the N.L East division crown with a 90-72 record.

After surprising many pundits that thought they were still a year away from consolidating into a division winner, the Braves enter 2019 with a young and talented core that features 21-year-old Ronald left fielder Acuña, 29-year-old first baseman Freddie Freeman, 21-year-old second baseman Ozzie Albies, and 28-year-old center fielder Ender Inciarte.

Acuña has the potential of developing into an MVP candidate as he possesses a complete set of skills. He has good speed, great glove, a strong arm, and can hit for both power and average.

In just 111 games in his rookie year, Acuña hit for a .293 average with 26 homers and 16 stolen bases, showing enough potential to hit 40 home runs and steal 30 bases over the extent of an entire season.

Inciarte, who has a very solid glove, is a great mix of power, average, and speed; while Freeman has enough talent on both sides of the field to be an MVP candidate. Last year he proved that by winning the Gold Glove Award and hitting a .309 batting average, which ranked third in the National League.

Atlanta also has plenty of veteran leadership with 33-year-old Josh Donaldson, who was acquired in November from Cleveland and could dictate how far the Braves go this season; 35-year-old outfielder Nick Markakis, a three-time Gold Glove Award winner; and 35-year-old Brian McCann, who returns to Atlanta after spending three years with the New York Yankees and the last two seasons with the Houston Astros.

The Braves rotation has some question marks, but at least Mike Foltynewicz showed last season that he can be an ace, but he has to prove that he can sustain that kind of level this year.

Even if he does, someone else will need to step up this year as he was the only Braves pitcher with more than 165 strikeouts. Kevin Gausman needs to prove this season that he can be top-of-the-rotation kind of pitcher and Julio Teheran must elevate his game if the Braves are going to repeat as division winners because the N.L East this offseason improved drastically with the Philadelphia Phillies, Washington Nationals and New York Mets all got considerably better.

With the Phillies now having an explosive lineup after signing Bryce Harper, the Braves are rumored to be considering bringing free-agent Craig Kimbrel back to Atlanta to make their bullpen a top-notch unit.

Kimbrel, who has made the All-Star Game in seven of his nine seasons in the majors, began his career with the Atlanta Braves. He has recorded 40 or more saves five times, and the 50-save mark once (2013).

The problem is that according to anonymous major league sources the Nationals have emerged as the favorites to get his services. If that happens, the chances of the Braves repeating as division winners would fall drastically.


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