One of the most active and interesting offseason’s south of Toronto and east of Anaheim took place down in Atlanta where the Braves revamped their lineup shuffling some new pieces in and allowing some of their former players to find new homes.
The Upton brothers are just some of the intriguing pieces for fantasy baseball and many projections have multiple Braves worth owning in all formats. To learn more, we caught up with Jeff Schafer of Tomahawk Take to help us preview the Braves season from a fantasy perspective with our Starting 9 questions (other teams here). Tomahawk Take is an extremely thorough site covering all things Atlanta Braves related for the Fansided netword and there’s lots of great stuff over there including projections, polls, and prospects. They’ve got the organization covered well and I’m sure the insight here will help you in your draft prep.
Here’s our Starting 9 for the Atlanta Braves
1. Did your team do a good job this offseason?
Yes, obviously with the addition of both Upton brothers, any teams score would go higher but it was the subtractions that will be the eye sore for the Atlanta Braves.
Losing Chipper Jones to retirement will hurt the Braves both on the field and in the clubhouse. He has been the face of the organization for two decades and without him, the Braves may not have a leader. Martin Prado and Michael Bourn will both be in different uniforms as well. Atlanta may have added others to replace these guys but Bourn was a natural leadoff hitter and Prado was a terrific two hole hitter. Losing both these guys, the Braves don’t have a traditional leadoff or number two hitter. Other key but smaller pieces will be the lose of Eric Hinske and David Ross, both guys were lead spokesman in the clubhouse.The starting rotation will also look completely different with the departures of Jair Jurrjens, Tommy Hanson and Randall Delgado.
Justin Upton and BJ Upton will provide great speed and power to our lineup. Hopefully with the chance to play together will build on their potential. A key offseason move that was easily forgotten was when the Braves received Jordan Walden from LA in the Hanson trade. He should help tremendous in the bullpen to give an extra right handed arm. Evan Gattis has had a tremendous spring training and may get the chance to start at catcher while Brian McCann is still recovering from surgery.
2. Who is the key player to your team’s success this year?
We could go in many different ways with this question. But I’d have to go with Jason Heyward. He’s stepping up to be the new face of the organization. JHey will be hitting in the 2 hole to start the year in front of both the Upton brothers, Freeman, McCann and Uggla so his job to get on base is enormous. I’d say with all the talk with him coming up a few years ago being the top prospect in baseball, then have a down year in 2011 then bounce back in 2012, 2013 hopefully will be a huge year for Heyward.
3. Who is a position player many people may not know about who is going to have a breakout season?
I’d have to go with our shortstop Andrelton Simmons, he isn’t a household name yet outside of Braves nation but he will be. He’s regarded as one of the best defensive shortstops in the league and he’s only 23 years old. He will bat leadoff for the Braves this year, so he’s got big shoes to fill. He’s started the season on a tear at the World Baseball Classic and when he returned to the Braves.
4. What starting pitcher is going to have a surprisingly good season?
I believe Julio Teheran will have a breakout season. He’s been Atlanta’s top prospect for years now and he will have his opportunity to show what he’s got. He has earned the 5th spot in the rotation this spring and i’m expecting him to surprise many in 2013.
5. How does your team’s bullpen look going into this coming year especially at the closer position?
This question is tough, Atlanta’s bullpen isn’t very good with no superstars…..says no one. Atlanta’s bullpen is the best in baseball with Jonny Venters, Eric O’Flahtery, Jordan Walden and the best closer in the league Craig Kimbrel. No reason not to think the Braves bullpen will have another stellar season.
6. Who do you think is the most “over-rated” player on your team?
I’m hoping Dan Uggla can have a bounce back season in 2013 but his spring has shown no signs of this. He’s only getting older and seems to have lost a little power. With that being said, I’m not sure if Uggla is over-rated or not but he could be a candidate because of his name and high salary.
7. Are there any rookies that will impact the team from the beginning of the season or as a midseason call-up?
The El Oso Gattis, Evan Gattis, has done nothing but crushed the baseball this spring training. The guy is a beast and should be on the opening day roster for the Braves. His story is a very moving one and if he could pull off an impressive MLB season, many will know it by years end. Be on the look out for Evan Gattis.
8. What would be considered a successful season for your team?
A successful season would have to be getting deep in the playoffs and possibly a world series. This will be manager Fredi Gonzalez third year with the club and both previous seasons has ended dramatically. If he doesn’t take this highly talented team far in the playoffs, it will be a major disappointment.
9. What exciting things do you have coming up on your site this season?
We’ve added three new writers to our team who have a proven background in journalism. We try to look into stories that no other site are coving. We are looking forward to a great Braves season and covering all aspects throughout the year.
Thanks again to Jeff at Tomahawk Take for his insight on the Braves headed into what should be an exciting season for Braves nation. If you’re an Atlanta fan, add the Tomahawk Take coverage to your daily email from Fansided and make sure you add FantasyCPR in the extras section. Come back thorughout the season from plenty more fantasy baseball goodness here at FantasyCPR and let us know how we can help you on the road to your championship in the comments section below.