2014 Atlanta Braves – Lineup Overview
Not a whole lot is going to change for the Braves heading into the 2014 campaign, after a satisfactory year last season. The only change we should expect will be the replacement of the departed Brian McCann with Evan Gattis at catcher. Gattis and McCann had very similar stat lines last year, in almost the same number of at bats. The real story line will be how B.J. Upton and Dan Uggla respond from less-than-satisfactory seasons. Even without any real production from them, The Braves had enough pieces left to clinch the East. Any improvement from those two players this year will help the Braves stay on top of the division.
Hitter Projections & Fantasy Analysis
C/OF – Evan Gattis
Gattis’s rookie year was something that literally came out of left field. You would be hard pressed to find anyone who knew who Gattis was before the season, or had any inclination of how well he would hit in his first year. Regardless of his limited number of at bats last year, Gattis ended the year as a top-15 catcher in mixed leagues, according to ESPN standard rankings. Take him around the 9th or 10th round.
2013 Stats: BA: .243, OBP: .291, SLG: .480, H: 86, R: 44, RBI: 65, HR: 21, SB: 0
2014 Projections: BA: .232, OBP: .288, SLG: .453, H: 104, R: 53, RBI: 79, HR: 25, SB: 0
1B – Freddie Freeman
Freddie Freeman proved last year why he has been so hyped over the past few years. The Braves were rewarded in a big way by Freeman’s .319 batting average and 109 RBI. Barring injury, I expect Freddie to have a similar season this year. He was a top-five first baseman last year, and should again be in the top five. I wouldn’t draft him in the first round, but if he were sitting at the end of the second or beginning of the third, I'd confidently pull the trigger.
2013 Stats: BA: .319, OBP: .396, SLG: .501, H: 176, R: 89, RBI: 109, HR: 23, SB: 1
2014 Projections: BA: .320, OBP: .400, SLG: .510, H: 180, R: 91, RBI: 111, HR: 25, SB: 1
2B – Dan Uggla
Dan Uggla hit career lows in almost every statistical category except HR. The Braves were unimpressed enough to leave him off of their playoff roster. If that doesn’t motivate Uggla to work harder than he ever has, the Braves will attempt to offload him and his huge contract to any team that will take him. Due to how bad his year was in 2013, Uggla should go undrafted this year. However, I’d keep an eye on him in case he returns to his old self.
2013 Stats: BA: .179, OBP: .309, SLG: .362, H: 80, R: 60, RBI: 55, HR: 22, SB: 2
2014 Projections: BA: .200, OBP: .340, SLG: .378, H: 110, R: 71, RBI: 65, HR: 26, SB: 3
3B/1B – Chris Johnson
“The Other Guy” in the Braves/Diamondbacks trade last year proved he was everything but that by coming within an eyelash of the NL batting title. Don’t expect him to be able to repeat his high level of production last year, but he should have another decent season. Look for him beginning in the middle of the draft (rounds 12-15).
2013 Stats: BA: .321, OBP: .358, SLG: .457, H: 165, R: 54, RBI: 68, HR: 12, SB: 0
2014 Projections: BA: .286, OBP: .340, SLG: .426, H: 164, R: 60, RBI: 75, HR: 13, SB: 3
SS – Andrelton Simmons
Andrelton Simmons showed some real power last year, belting 17 HR. Finishing in the top five in HR at a thin shortstop position should send his draft stock soaring. However, his lack of production in every other category will likely leave him available after the top ten shortstops are taken. You should target Simmons around 7th-9th round of your drafts.
2013 Stats: BA: .248, OBP: .296, SLG: .396, H: 150, R: 76, RBI: 59, HR: 17, SB: 6
2014 Projections: BA: .275, OBP: .305, SLG: .419, H: 158, R: 80, RBI: 56, HR: 15, SB: 10
LF – Justin Upton
Justin Upton was one of the hottest hitters in April last year, hitting 12 HR and sporting a .298 average. Unfortunately, Upton returned to Earth to hit only 15 HR the rest of the year, ending with a .263 average. Don’t take Upton before the fifth round.
2013 Stats: BA: .263, OBP: .354, SLG: .464, H: 147, R: 94, RBI: 70, HR: 27, SB: 8
2014 Projections: BA: .275, OBP: .370, SLG: .470, H: 158, R: 97, RBI: 72, HR: 24, SB: 15
CF – B.J. Upton
See Dan Uggla. B.J. can only improve on last season, assuming he is the starting center fielder. On a positive note, last season was the only one for B.J., in which he played more than 50 games that he stole fewer than 20 bases and finished with under 55 RBI. He should go undrafted this year, but again keep an eye on him.
2013 Stats: BA: .184, OBP: .268, SLG: .289, H: 72, R: 30, RBI: 26, HR: 9, SB: 12
2014 Projections: BA: .230, OBP: .290, SLG: .344, H: 104, R: 39, RBI: 30, HR: 11, SB: 20
RF – Jason Heyward
Heyward spent a lot of time on the DL last year from an appendectomy and then a broken jaw. I wouldn’t be surprised if he bounced back to his 20-20 form of two years ago. Towards the end of the year, manager Fredie Gonzalez was hitting Heyward at the top of the lineup, which should reward Heyward with a boost in runs scored. With last year being so disappointing, Heyward should go for less than what he’s worth. It’s possible to steal him as late as the fifth or sixth rounds.
2013 Stats: BA: .254, OBP: .349, SLG: .427, H: 97, R: 67, RBI: 38, HR: 14, SB: 2
2014 Projections: BA: .270, OBP: .352, SLG: .443, H: 155, R: 90, RBI: 51, HR: 23, SB: 20
OF – Jordan Schafer
Schafer’s value strongly depends on what B.J. Upton is able to do. If Upton posts a season like last year, Schafer will likely take over the starting job in center field. Keep Schafer in mind if Upton starts out poorly, or if there are any prolonged injuries to the outfield.
2013 Stats: BA: .247, OBP: .331, SLG: .346, H: 57, R: 32, RBI: 21, HR: 3, SB: 22
2014 Projections: BA: .230, OBP: .320, SLG: .315, H: 65, R: 40, RBI: 19, HR: 2, SB: 25
* Rankings are based on ESPN’s standard scoring rankings
** All draft positions are based on a 12 team, mixed league using standard scoring