|Fantasy Take: The 2006 Atlanta Braves|
Written by Daniel Paulling (Contact & Archive) on March 08, 2006
The Braves didn’t add any superstars this offseason — and they rarely do — but they have a collection of fairly solid guys. While no one should be drafted in the first two rounds from this team, it should be expected that a majority of the Braves will find a way onto fantasy rosters.
The Braves don’t have anyone in the top tier of fantasy talent.
The Second Tier
Marcus Giles (2B) – The scrappy infielder (aren’t all diminutive second baseman labeled that?) plays a good second base. This season he will most likely move into the lead off spot, which should be beneficial because he actually has better on-base percentages than Rafael Furcal. We should expect a .295/10/55 season with 22-25 stolen bases and 100 runs scored, especially now that he’s received news that his newborn daughter Sawyur Rae is healthy.
Tim Hudson (SP) – A former Golden Spikes Award winner, Hudson has the talent to win twenty games with the Braves this year. The only problem is that he’ll have an ERA around 3.20-3.30 with a WHIP over 1.10. Strikeouts are never plentiful when drafting Hudson. His best category to contribute is wins, and if he’s healthy, he should rack up plenty of those.
Andruw Jones (OF) – The astute among you are wondering why I didn’t put Andruw in the top tier of fantasy talent. My reason is that the Braves’ center fielder only contributes in three categories: home runs, RBIs, and runs. He hit 51 last year and drove in 128, so he ranks near the top of second tier talent, but his .267 career average will lower your team’s, and he doesn’t steal many bases. He’s still an excellent player.
Chipper Jones (3B) – Injury concerns have taken the Braves’ Golden Boy from top to second, but he’s still valuable to fantasy teams. If stays healthy, expect the Chipper from not so long ago: .300/28/110. These are easily within reach and not a stretch if the Braves’ third baseman is feeling chipper once again.
Edgar Renteria (SS) – Last season, Renteria did horribly for himself with the Red Sox. This offseason, he hired a personal trainer and slimmed down. That will probably do him some good, as well as moving to Hotlanta. Veteran players thrive under Bobby Cox, so we should expect to see an older version of Edgar Renteria, just not an older one. My guess for his stats would be along the lines of .290/12-15/75-80 with 20-25 stolen bases and a few runs scored. However, we could also see the Renteria from last year.
John Smoltz (SP) – The Braves’ number two pitcher this season, Smoltz returned to prior form with a 3.09 ERA in nearly 230 innings worth of work. He promised that he would pace himself, which leaves questions about his health after last season. He can win twenty games, but it’s more likely he’ll be around the 16 or 17 mark. Expect an ERA slightly higher this year with less K’s and less innings pitched.
The Third Tier
Brian McCann (C) – Taking over for the injured Johnny Estrada, Brian McCann started catching for his idol, John Smoltz, and doing some good work behind the plate. Standing next to the plate, McCann did pretty well, too. This year, the upward expectations range in the .270/15-18/65-75 range. If he can achieve those numbers, he’d be well on his way to moving into the next tier next year. However, he’ll be facing Major League pitching for an entire season, which will push him. He’s talented, however, so good things are more likely than bad.
Adam LaRoche (1B) – While Rochey doesn’t have much power, he’ll be reaching his peak this season. A .265/25-28/90 guy is pretty nice to have on the bench or as a corner infielder in deep leagues, but don’t expect him to exceed those numbers by too much. The position is very deep, so there’s likely to be better choices when the time comes to pick.
Jeff Francoeur (OF) – Frenchy started last season off absolutely insane, but cooled off when the weather did. His monthly splits were .416/6/16 for July, .312/4/15 for August, .235/4/14 for September. I think I see a little bit of a decline there. The secret to Francoeur is that he swings at anything, so pitchers give him nothing to hit. He needs to improve his batting eye and draw a few walks.
Kelly Johnson (OF) – The Braves’ left fielder was a little streaky last year, beginning his career going 1-30, before winning NL Player of the Week honors after a crazy stretch in June in which he hit .417/3/11. Ryan Langerhans will steal away some playing time, and since they’re both similar players, that’s not a good thing for Johnson.
Chris Reitsma/Oscar Villarreal/Joey Devine/Blaine Boyer (RP) – All of these guys could feasibly be named the closer going into the season. All of these guys could be flops if given the ninth inning to work. This remains the biggest question mark for the Braves, so somebody has to step up and earn the job. G.M. John Schuerholz says that Reitsma is in the lead, but I don’t know just what he’ll provide. If your draft was today, draft Reitsma and think you’re going to get a good number of saves. This is a situation to which you should pay attention throughout Spring Training.