2017 Atlanta Braves go to WAR…fWAR that is!

Sep 12, 2016; Atlanta, GA, USA; Atlanta Braves left fielder Matt Kemp (27) prepares for a game against the Miami Marlins at Turner Field. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

MATT KEMP says to shove your fWAR where the sun don’t shine!

Yes, the 2016 Atlanta Braves season ended well for the fans with a revamped lineup, some timely hitting, and overall, some pretty great pitching.  However, let’s not gloss over that 2016 season with a honey glazed 30-game sample size as the 68-93 Braves were, overall, a forgettable team as it finished the year with an overall fWAR of 18.9.

But this is 2017! And with a new park, a new year, and some brand spankin’ new prospects ready to show their stuff, it should be a season to be proud of for the rebuilding Atlanta Braves.

I put out a tweet the other day regarding fWAR projections for the 2017 season, and let’s just say they’re not very friendly.

We advanced fans know fWAR’s beef with players like Nick Markakis, who doesn’t do anything spectacularly yet does everything pretty well. Or even Matt Kemp, who butchers the outfield but sure can swing a stick. Or even Julio Teheran, who consistently defies Fangraphs advanced metrics to put up good numbers year after year.

But before I get too deep into my beef with these predictions, let’s see what Fangraphs has envisioned for the 2017 Atlanta Braves.

Sep 20, 2016; New York City, NY, USA; Atlanta Braves starting pitcher Julio Teheran (49) pitches against the New York Mets during the first inning at Citi Field. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Atlanta Braves Position Players fWAR Projections

Tyler Flowers– 0.9
Anthony Recker– 0.5
Freddie Freeman– 3.7
Jace Peterson– 0.2
Sean Rodriguez– 0.4
Dansby Swanson– 1.8
Adonis Garcia– 0.9
Matt Kemp– 0.2
Ender Inciarte– 2.3
Nick Markakis– 0.6
Others- 0.3 (or less)

Atlanta Braves Rotation fWAR Projections

Julio Teheran– 2.4
Bartolo Colon– 2.2
Mike Foltynewicz-1.8
Jaime Garcia– 2.3
R.A. Dickey– 1.8
Matt Wisler– 0.9
Aaron Blair-0.2
Josh Collmenter– 0.1
Others-0.0 (or less)

Atlanta Braves Bullpen fWAR Projections:

Arodys Vizcaino– 0.9
Jim Johnson– 0.8
Mauricio Cabrera– 0.2
Ian Krol– 0.5
Chaz Roe– 0.3
Armando Rivero– 0.1
Paco Rodriguez– 0.1
Others- 0.0 (or less)

Overall: 25.9 fWAR

Ok, so Fangraphs admits that the 2017 Atlanta Braves are likely to win more games than the 2016 Atlanta Braves, roughly 7 more (75-87 record), but dang it if these fWAR projections don’t suck the life out of hope.

But I’m taking a stand here! These numbers just,  well…SUCK!  As stated above, I sent out a pretty bold tweet earlier, and here is said tweet.

Double. That’s right. Like 2 scoops, folks. 37.8 frickin’ WAR!

Oh boy, where do I come up with these blind assumptions. Well, let me try to justify myself by showing you where these numbers come from.

Now, remember earlier that the unfriendly projections still had the 2017 team at 25.9 fWAR, therefore that means all I have to find is an extra 11.9 fWAR to justify my prediction of 37.8 fWAR.

Let’s start with position players

Jun 25, 2016; Atlanta, GA, USA; Atlanta Braves center fielder Ender Inciarte (11) reacts after a strikeout against the New York Mets in front of umpire Ryan Blakney (36) in the eighth inning at Turner Field. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

Ender Inciarte’s fed-up with your fWAR projections!

Discrepancies in Atlanta Braves Position Players fWAR

*There are some here that I cannot argue their projections and those are Tyler Flowers (0.9), Anthony Recker (0.5),  and Adonis Garcia (0.9).

Freddie Freemanprojected 3.7 fWAR. So not only is Fangraphs projecting FF5 to revert back to 2015 total fWAR, but do it getting 200 extra plate appearances. Yes, that’s right in 2015 he collected 3.4 WAR in less than 500 PAs, yet Fangraphs projects him to collect 665 PAs and only add 0.3 WAR.

Oh…and forget that he collected 6.1 WAR last year.  While I think a 6.1 WAR might not be a realistic number due to the heavily inflated BABIP, Freddie’s an easy 5 WAR if healthy, and that’s what I’m predicting.

Add 1.3 fWAR, only 10.6 to go.

Ender Inciarteprojected 2.3 fWAR. This one really chaps my hind-quarters. How can they predict a 26 year old center-fielder who just won a gold glove to go 1.1 fWAR lower than the year prior considering the player was unhealthy for 30 of those games. Bizarre, and I’m not buying it.  Add 1.4 fWAR (which matches last year’s numbers), making it 3.7 fWAR total.

Only 9.2 to go.

Dansby Swansonprojected 1.8 WAR. I’m not keen on this prediction, but I don’t expect Dansby to go full-on break-out in 2017. I think he puts up a mid-.700s OPS, slight above-average defense, making him a solid 2.5 fWAR player.

Add 0.6 fWAR, only 8.6 to go.

Nick Markakisprojected 0.6 WAR. He must’ve run over Dave Cameron’s Weimaraner or something as each year Markakis is predicted to be much worse than the year before. While I don’t see a drastic improvement, I don’t see much of a drop. I’d expect similar production to last year with a small boost to favor the extra power he found at the end of 2016.  1.1 fWAR.

Add 0.5 fWAR, only 8.1 to go!

Matt Kempprojected 0.2 fWAR. If Kakes ran over Dave’s weimaraner, Matt double-tapped that thing!  Getting out of San Diego, a place where Kemp was obviously unhappy, seemed to rejuvenate the former 8.3 fWAR player. I think Kemp comes back in better shape, maintains his mid-800s OPS, and puts up better defense in left field. I’m not going HUGE here, but I think we see Kemp at 2 fWAR this year with an OPS north of .800.

Add 1.8, only 6.3 to go!

Jace Petersonprojected 0.2 fWAR. Jace had an odd year and ended up with a 0.0 fWAR for the 2016 season. However, it looks like the Braves will be utilizing Jace much more wisely in 2017 using him to start against or PH when righties are on the mound. A wise choice and I think Jace is worth 0.7 fWAR this year in a part-time role.

Add 0.5, only 5.8 to go!

Sean Rodriguezprojected 0.4 fWAR. Obviously Fangraphs doesn’t believe in Sean’s 2016 breakout even after their own Eno Sarris wrote this piece.  I buy into the production, and I think his fWAR will tick up a bit as he’ll likely get more playing time with the Braves.  2.2 fWAR is my prediction.

Add 1.8 fWAR, only 4 fWAR to go!

Let’s take a look at the Rotation, shall we?

Jul 27, 2016; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Atlanta Braves starting pitcher Mike Foltynewicz (26) prepares to play the Minnesota Twins before the game at Target Field. The Braves win 9-7. Mandatory Credit: Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports

Folty doesn’t find your fWAR projections accurate or amusing!

Discrepancies in Atlanta Braves Rotation’s fWAR

There isn’t as much here that upsets me like with the offensive predictions, I think R.A. Dickey’s, Bartolo Colon’s, and Jaime Garcia’s fWAR is likely on point with any of those 3 spiking up or declining down and balancing each other’s overall fWAR. Therefore I look at those 3 in a group rather than individual components, and as a group 6 fWAR seems about right. For this section,  I’ll only focus on 2 guys.

Julio Teheranprojected 2.4 fWAR. No reason to be against Julio duplicating his 2016 season and that’s my expectation: somewhere between 180-200 innings of a mid-3 ERA. 3.2 WAR is my prediction.

Add 0.8 WAR, only 3.2 WAR to go.

Mike Foltynewiczprojected 1.8 fWAR. We all seem to forget that Folty came into 2016 about 20 pounds down from rib surgery due to blood clots. Needless to say he wasn’t 100% at the begining of the year. Fangraphs see Folty’s production moving forward, but there were real signs in his last 2 months of ’16 where his walks were dropping and the Ks were hopping.  I’m not predicting full breakout, but he’s moving up with a late-3s ERA and 180ish innings. 2.6 fWAR is my prediction.

Add 0.8, only 2.4 fWAR to go.

What I like (and dislike) about the Braves rotation is that there isn’t really any large downswing in expected production when thinking about DL stints as Matt Wisler, a fixed Aaron Blair, or even someone like Sean Newcomb could likely fill-in nicely should any of those 5 get injured.

Apr 11, 2015; Atlanta, GA, USA; Atlanta Braves relief pitcher Jim Johnson (53) points to shortstop Andrelton Simmons (19) (not shown) after the last out against the New York Mets during the ninth inning at Turner Field. The Braves defeated the Mets 5-3. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Jim Johnson wants to know if you’re responsible for these fWAR projections!

Discrepancies in Atlanta Braves Bullpen’s fWAR

While it’s hard for me to pinpoint where this extra fWAR is going to come from, make no mistake that the national media is discounting how strong the Braves bullpen could be for a long time coming. And while I don’t know who’s going to step up, let it be known that there are 10-15 candidates that could make an elite 7 or 8, and when the kinks are out, this bullpen is going to send’em back from whence they came. Disperse 2.4 fWAR how you please to Arodys Vizcaino, Jim Johnson, Shae Simmons, Paco Rodriguez, A.J. Minter, Mauricio Cabrera, Daniel Winkler, Jose Ramirez, Chaz Roe, Ian Krol, Armando Rivera, Jesse Biddle, Luke Jackson, Akeel Morris, Lucas Sims, Jordan Walden…the list goes on…

and on…

and on.

What does this mean for the 2017 Atlanta Braves?

I think this team shocks a lot of off-season predictions and stays afloat above .500 after game 162 is played. My prediction?

85-77.  Now that’d be a good way to start at Suntrust Park!

Hope you enjoyed reading! Let’s say it together. 1, 2, 3…

Go Braves!

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