2018 Season Player Preview—Position Players
As the offseason winds down and the weather warms up, baseball fans everywhere are getting excited. With so few changes for the Braves, I thought it’d be a good idea to preview the players for this season—expectations as well as predictions for how things will go.
Let’s go ahead and start with a player we all know and love, the hugger himself, Freddie Freeman. He is coming off a season where he missed 45 games, most of those due to breaking his wrist. Regardless, he is still trending upwards! In just 117 games last season, he hit 28 Home Runs, good enough for his second highest total for any season, with 34 as his highest (the year before). He also had a career high batting average at .307 in 2017. Everything seems to be trending upwards for the 6’5” first baseman.
Dansby Swanson had a very good minor league career. He even had a great start to his major league career in 2016, where he hit .302 over the course of 38 games. Questions were raised, however, as last season was nothing short of average. He hit a measly .232. The big thing to watch for is if he will improve on offense, but also on defense, after committing 20 (!!) errors last season. A positive in it all is that, amidst his struggles defensively, he also made some phenomenal plays at short stop last season.
Ender Inciarte AP/Tami Chappell
Ah, Ender. One of the most beloved Braves (partly due to his swooning of women, but his flashy glove in the outfield sure does add a good touch). The 27 year-old is coming off a great season. In his first year with the Braves, he hit .304 and won a Gold Glove—nobody was surprised, of course. He has held a high level of consistency since coming into the league, and we can expect that to continue into 2018.
Ozzie Albies had a great, fun debut last season. After spending the majority of it in the minors, He spent 57 games with the major league organization. He hit .286 and was fun to watch. He is speedy, hits the ball well, and we will see growth this year.
Nick Markakis had another solid year. He is known for his consistency at the plate while fielding fairly well. The biggest question for him right now is, how long will he stay a Brave? There are rumors that the Braves are looking to find an additional outfielder, after shipping off Matt Kemp to the Dodgers early this offseason. If he stays, he will continue to hit well and provide leadership to this young Braves team.
He had such a great 82 games last season, for such a “quiet” minor leaguer, many people wonder if he can keep it up. If so, he is a shoe-in for 3B. If not, Rio Ruiz is a possible candidate, or the Braves may even look in free agency or a trade for a new third baseman. We all hope he stays healthy and continues to hit as he did last year, if not better.
Lane Adams played in his first full season last year at the age of 28. He may not have much of a ceiling, but .275 is always good enough to play on almost any major league squad. He played in 82 games last season yet had only 109 at bats. More consistent playing time could definitely help. He is a good player and could improve this next season. Or he could not.
Flowers has gotten significantly better since coming to play for the Braves. He is a good catcher and hits the ball well. He had 12 Home Runs last season, which isn’t very eye opening, but we have to remember that he split his games up with Kurt Suzuki. Expect that this trend will continue, and that Flowers will continue to play well.
He is a question mark. He played well enough last season, but Camargo played better. He is a good bench piece and the Braves could use him in case of injury. Don’t expect him to start many games this season.
A veteran catcher who is coming off a great season. He started fewer games than Flowers, but both catchers provided needed power and often clutch homeruns. It is fun to have a catching duo do so well. Count on Suzuki having another solid season.
Players Who Could Come to Atlanta This Season
I only put Acuña here because he isn’t “officially” on the major league team. He is going to be good. He has powers unknown to us. He is the Julio Jones of outfielders. You don’t know how he got the good, how he hits the ball so consistently but with power, how he is so quick around the bags, and how he is so good defensively. All we can do is be grateful.
For reasons unknown to the baseball world, Dickerson was DFA’d recently, after coming off an All-star season. He would be a tremendous addition to the Braves and would add a lot of fun into the lineup. The only problem is going to be getting him—many other teams would love to have him, as well.
Pache is one last player who could see some playing time in the outfield this season for the Braves. He is currently playing with the Gwinnett AAA affiliate, but is a possible candidate if the Braves have troubles with their starting outfield. I wouldn’t count on seeing him this season, but there is a chance.
Andrew Carter | @AndrewC_Braves
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