The Braves are experiencing an early spring training power outage.
A year removed from leading the National League in home runs, the Atlanta Braves have left the yard just twice in nine spring training games. (Disclaimer: Yes, surprise, these are just spring training statistics. Just making observations here.) In fact, of all 30 teams, the Braves have logged the most at-bats this spring, notching 316 thanks in large part to a 16-15 result against the Nationals over the weekend, yet are tied for last in homers. Two home runs in 316 at-bats isn’t exactly tearing the cover off the ball, though Jason Heyward’s lone towering shot would beg to disagree.
This makes for an interesting note if only because the Braves set a powerful precedent last spring.
Before finishing fifth in the majors in home runs in 2013 — behind four American League clubs — the Braves stormed out of the gate in Florida. They hit 49 home runs, tied for second-most behind only the Seattle Mariners. It took Atlanta 1,207 at-bats to reach that mark.
At the current rate, it would take Braves hitters 7,742 spring training at-bats to reach that total. Is it a major issue that the Braves hitters haven’t jumped out to such a fast start this time around? Not necessarily. After all, they still rank in the top-10 for batting average, on-base percentage and even stolen bases thus far. Perhaps home runs will soon follow suit.
Still, last season saw six eventual starters (Freddie Freeman, Evan Gattis, Andrelton Simmons, Chris Johnson, Justin Upton and Jason Heyward) hit three or more homers — a good sign of things to come. The team also finished top-10 in spring training strikeouts, too, which was some understated foreshadowing.
So what is to be expected, on an individual basis, for Braves hitters and pitchers during the regular season? Will there be any breakout campaigns or could a few stars be in for some regression? Using Baseball Prospectus player projections, our writers weigh in on how some of the team’s more notable players will fare this season, taking the over/under for guys like Freeman, Simmons, Dan Uggla and B.J. Upton: