The Atlanta Braves have won the National League East Division each of the past two seasons but fell in the NL Division Series in both years. What to expect from the 2020 Braves? Here’s an overview. Let’s check the MLB Odds and World Series Odds for the Atlanta Braves 2020 Season.
Atlanta Braves 2020 Season Analysis
Atlanta Braves Offensive Analysis
Atlanta has one of the best young players in the majors in outfielder Ronald Acuna – the Braves boasted two top-10 National League MVP candidates in 2019, one of the greatest offensive seasons in club history. Acuna finished fifth in voting – his first top-five finish – and first baseman Freddie Freeman finished eighth.
Last year, Acuna fell three stolen bases shy of recording what would have been just the fifth 40-40 season in MLB history. Still, as he belted 41 homers and tallied 37 steals, he joined Mike Trout (2012) as the only players 21 or younger to record a 30-30 season. Acuna says he wants to become the first member of the 50-50 club.
The 22-year-old outfielder to date has produced a .897 OPS. The only players to construct a higher number at 21 or younger are Ted Williams (1.041), Jimmie Foxx (1.015), Mel Ott (.986), Trout (.948), Frank Robinson (.920), Eddie Mathews (.907) and Alex Rodriguez (.900).
Braves manager Brian Snitker announced that outfielder Acuna will bat leadoff in the coming season. Acuna hit leadoff for most of last season, but there has been speculation following the Braves’ loss of third baseman Josh Donaldson to the Twins that it might be wise to move Acuna into the cleanup spot to add power to the heart of the batting order. Snitker put Acuna into the cleanup slot for the first six weeks of the 2019 season before moving him into the leadoff role for the remainder of the campaign.
Acuna is the favorite to win NL MVP this season, but it’s quite possible Freeman could win it too. Despite dealing with an elbow problem in 2019, Freeman was able to post a .295/.389/.549 slash line with 38 home runs, 121 RBI and 113 runs scored in 158 games. Freeman had offseason surgery so the delayed season might actually help him.
While the Braves did lose Donaldson, who hit 37 bombs, they added outfielder Marcell Ozuna, formerly of the Cardinals. Ozuna hit 29 home runs and drove in 89 RBI in 2019. He posted a .779 OPS in two seasons with the Cardinals, adding a combined 52 doubles. He signed a one-year deal worth $18 million with Atlanta.
Atlanta Braves Pitching Analysis
Atlanta lost two members of its 2019 rotation as Dallas Keuchel and Julio Teheran departed. Keuchel found a multi-year deal with the White Sox while the Braves declined Teheran’s $12 million option for the 2020 season.
Still should be a very good rotation led by youngsters Mike Soroka, Mike Foltynewicz and Max Fried. Last year Soroka went 13-4 with a 2.68 ERA in 29 starts and was in the NL Rookie of the Year conversation. He struck out 142 batters and walked 41 in 174 2/3 innings. In Game 3 of the NLDS vs. the Cardinals, he allowed just one run on two hits over seven innings but didn’t factor into the decision.
The Braves Foltynewicz avoided arbitration by agreeing to a one-year, $6.425 million contract. The right-hander went through an up and down 2019 campaign, finishing with a 4.54 ERA over 21 starts. Foltynewicz was able to get just one out while allowing seven runs — six earned — with three walks in a blowout loss in Game 5 of the NLDS against the Cardinals. Still, he has crazy-good stuff.
Fried was 17-6 with a 4.02 ERA last year, ranking second in the NL in wins. The team also added two veteran free agents in Cole Hamels and former AL Cy Young winner Felix Hernandez. Hamels is 36 but he hasn’t lost all that much from his peak days with the Phillies, going 7-7 with a 3.81 ERA in 27 starts for the Cubs in 2019, missing a month with an oblique injury. Hamels has lost a tick off his fastball, averaging 91.7 mph in 2019, but he had full command of the vintage Hamels changeup, as batters hit just .170/.237/.270 against it.
Hernandez bottomed out in 2019 by going 1-8 with a 6.40 ERA in 15 starts with the Mariners. He averaged less than 90 miles per hour on his fastball last year, which is quite a drop from the 95 mph heater he wielded in his heyday. However, King Felix looked pretty good this spring.
Atlanta Braves Offseason Movements
- Atlanta Braves Notable additions: 1B Yonder Alonso, C Travis d’Arnaud, SP Cole Hamels, SP Felix Hernandez, RP Chris Martin, OF Marcell Ozuna, OF Shane Robinson, RP Chris Rusin, IF Yangervis Solarte, RP Will Smith, RP Josh Tomlin.
- Atlanta Braves Notable subtractions: 3B Josh Donaldson (MIN), OF Matt Joyce (MIA), SP Dallas Keuchel (CWS), C Brian McCann (retired), RP Anthony Swarzak (PHI), SP Julio Teheran (LAA).