• Exclusives

    2018 Braves Lineup Projections

    What kind of production can Braves fans expect from this 2018 starting lineup (or what will be the lineup when healthy, plus Acuna)?

    Here’s a peek into the BravesWire crystal ball with our official projections for the season. These projections are a mix of our own predictions and the forecasted numbers from five other projection services, including Steamer, ZiPS and Depth Charts.

    Each projection assumes more than 500 at-bats this season. Obviously, with regard to the Braves catching tandem, we have combined their projected production.

    Inciarte .295 27 5 9 56 22 .343
    Albies .280 30 9 13 65 28 .348
    Freeman .305 37 3 38 105 6 .417
    Acuna .270 25 5 20 78 26 .347
    Markakis .264 33 1 8 68 1 .343
    Suziki/Flowers .258 28 0 21 83 1 .328
    Camargo .263 28 3 8 56 1 .322
    Swanson .253 27 3 11 58 6 .334

    Okay, let’s break it down …

    Ender Inciarte: Baseball prognosticators broadly agree that what we’re likely to see out of Ender Inciarte is more of the same. And that’s good.

    Braves 2B Ozzie Albies

    Braves 2B Ozzie Albies

    Ozzie Albies: Most projections seem fairly bullish on Albies, though, with very little big league service time to go on, the forecasts are fairly reserved. Our prediction is more optimistic than most projection models. We think this kid is going to be really, really good. We expect him to be a solid all around hitter and a tough out who puts his speed to good use and packs more punch than you might expect out of his undersized frame. Think Marcus Giles offensively, but with more speed.

    Freddie Freeman: We don’t think it will take Braves fans long to break out the “MVP! MVP! MVP!” chants. And there won’t be anything remotely crazy about that. He’s one of baseball’s best hitters, heading into his age-28 season. This is primetime in the career of an elite slugger. He got off to a remakable start last season before a beanball broke his wrist and derailed his possible MVP campaign. His wrist is healthy, and he’s back on the campaign trail.

    Ronald Acuna Jr: It doesn’t matter how talented a kid may be, you can’t predict a Judge or Bellinger type of rookie season. You can never predict that from a rookie. So we won’t. But will anyone be surprised if that’s what we see from him in 2018? Some serious thinkers are comparing this kid to the best player in the game at the same point in his career. So there’s that. He’ll almost certainly join the big league club in mid-April, and he’ll be a lot of fun to watch.

    Nick Markakis: Opening night walkoff homer notwithstanding, we’re projecting some age-related decline for Nick Markakis this year. If he can repeat his production from 2017 for however long he remains in this lineup, the Braves will take it. Nick could be dealt at some point during the season if 1) the Braves can hang in the Wild Card hunt and decide to upgrade their offense at an outfield corner or 2) if Dustin Peterson carries his resurrgent spring performance into the triple-A season and convinces the Braves front office he’s ready to be tested against big league pitching.

    Kurt Suzuki/Tyler Flowers: If Atlanta’s 2-headed catching monster had been one person last year, he would have won a Silver Slugger award. Tyler Flowers and Kurt Suzki were as good next to the plate as they were at framing pitches behind it. The duo quietely combined to hit 31 HR with 99 RBI. No other National League team got that kind of power production from behind the plate. And they did it with a combined OBP north of .360. The tandem was so good last season their numbers could take a significant step down and still represent very solid production from behind the plate. That that’s what we expect.

    Braves SS Dansby Swanson

    Braves SS Dansby Swanson

    Johan Camargo: Camargo is a 5th infielder or a super-utility player, right? That’s what many say … and Johan Camargo is determined to prove them wrong, just as former Brave Martin Prado shook off similar labels years ago in Atlanta. In 241 at-bats last year, Camargo hit .299 with 27 extra-base hits. Can he do it over the course of 500 at-bats? We’ll see. We’re not predicting it, but Camargo will be given a chance to prove everyone wrong.

    Dansby Swanson: The hometown phenom is a year older and wiser. He’s had a full winter to hit the mental reset button and shake off a disappointing 2017 campaign. Some fans were FAR too quick to call him a bust. Remember, last year was his first full season above double-A. The Braves haven’t given up on him, nor should they have. As with Johan, it will be up to Dansby to go out there and show the front office he belongs here. We’ve projected better numbers this year, but he may have to exceed our projection to keep his starting job through the end of the year. He certainly has the talent to do just that.

    The Braves finished 11th in the NL in runs scored last year. We believe it will be better this year, at least slightly. Acuna will likely be an offensive uprade over the oft-injured Matt Kemp. A full season of Ozzie Albies will also help. They’ll also get more production out of SS than they did last year, one way or the other. This lineup has a chance to be decent. If enough things roll their way, perhaps better than decent.

    What do you expect this season? Chirp me up on Twitter: @FriedbasballATL

    Kent Covington is a national radio news reporter and BravesWire Editor.