Atlanta Braves: Is 2018 when the rebuild peaks?
Another rebuild year may give Braves fans a chance to see some exciting new prospects.
It’s difficult to gauge the success of an individual season when a team is in full rebuild mode.
In terms of record, the team is likely to be a disaster. That was the case for the Atlanta Braves in 2017, whose 72-90 record marked the third consecutive year the franchise lost at least 90 games.
What a team like the Braves wants to see is progress toward the future. What they got last year was, well, iffy. Manager Brian Snitker’s team was expected to make big strides. They weren’t expected to be contenders by any stretch, but most expected a marked improvement in their first season at SunTrust Park, possibly setting up a dark horse playoff run in 2018.
That didn’t happen. Rookie shortstop Dansby Swanson, projected this time last year as a top candidate for NL Rookie of the Year, scuffled badly, slashing only .232/.312/.324 and committing 20 errors, tied for second-most in the majors at his position. By the All-Star break, he had been replaced at short by Johan Camargo and demoted to Triple-A Gwinnett, although an injury to Camargo saw him resume his starting duties barely two weeks later. He improved, hitting .268 after being recalled, but the balance of the season was a dismal failure.
Other elements of the team also stagnated. Julio Teheran took a serious step backward at the top of the starting rotation, and Freddie Freeman missed 44 games with a fractured wrist.
There were some bright spots. Top prospect Ozzie Albies came up on August 1 and hit .286/.357/.456 with six home runs and 22 RBI, setting himself up as the team’s second baseman of the future. In the minors, a succession of talented pitchers lined themselves up for potential 2018 debuts.
What will the 2018 season bring to the Braves? Let’s look a little deeper.