Bradley’s Buzz: Baseball Prospectus has Braves finishing 2nd

Would you remember Nate McLouth if he signed a baseball for you? (AJC file photo)

Would you remember Nate McLouth if he signed a baseball for you? (AJC file photo)

I’m a little confused. In his ESPN.com Insiders preview of the National League East, Kevin Goldstein of Baseball Prospectus describes the Braves as “resurgent.” (Link requires registration.) But here’s the weird part: BP’s PECOTA ratings — no relation to Bill Pecota, a Brave of no great distinction in the ’90s — project the Braves’ record as 83-79.

The 2009 Braves finished 86-76. That’s resurgence?

PECOTA puts the Braves second in the division, five games behind the Nationals. (Ha! Just seeing if you’re paying attention. Behind the Phillies, natch.) Goldstein offers this breakdown:

Why They Might Win: Jason Heyward is the top position player prospect in the game, might be the right fielder on opening day and one of those rare talents who could make a big-league impact from day one. Their rotation could be outstanding, as Tommy Hanson and Jair Jurrjens are both good young pitchers who could be even better this year — while the club is convinced Tim Hudson will return to form after recovering from Tommy John surgery.

Why They Might Not Win: If Heyward isn’t ready, their corner outfield situation is pretty sad. Also — do you really want to put faith in a team that has Billy Wagner closing and Troy Glaus at first base? Good for you, because few others do.

Player Who Could Surprise: After slumping a bit in the batting average department last year, PECOTA projects a nice rebound for Nate McLouth — with 22 home runs, 24 stolen bases and a career-high .361 on-base percentage. That’s nearly All-Star territory.

Player Who Could Disappoint: PECOTA believes that a Troy Glaus/Eric Hinske combination at first base could produce 20-plus home runs, but also a combined slugging percentage that’s still under .400. The Braves have yet to find anything close to a replacement for Mark Teixeira, and after all of the talent they sent to Texas for him, Atlanta fans probably don’t want to be reminded of that.

Interesting that Goldstein mentions McLouth. Nobody around here seems to say much about him one way or another, which is kind of strange given that he arrived from Pittsburgh last June being touted as an All-Star center fielder. I wouldn’t write him off just yet. (Then again, I wouldn’t write off Derek Lowe, either, but the Braves themselves seem to have done that.)

Me, I think the Phillies will regret trading Cliff Lee and not having a closer other than Brad Lidge. They could regress. But I’d be wary of the Florida Marlins. Even if PECOTA sees them as an 81-81 club, I like the look of these Fish.

126 comments Add your comment

matt_t

February 17th, 2010
1:26 pm

Baseball Prospectus is better for predicting individuals rather than teams. The team projections are usually close, but there’s too many variables teamwise.

But that last projection has them ‘winning’ the wild card.

Also BP doesn’t project older/injured players well (Wagner, Glaus)

carrolltondawg

February 17th, 2010
1:28 pm

Mark Bradley

February 17th, 2010
1:29 pm

Second, actually, carrolltondawg. But close. Kudos to matt t.

carrolltondawg

February 17th, 2010
1:32 pm

dang it should not have read the article. Which was good by the way. The question i have for you Mark and the braves, what about chipper? He is at the end of the line, shouldnt he be a worry for the braves, he is always injured anyway.

Fed Up With Wren (Again)

February 17th, 2010
1:32 pm

Boy, I sure hope Jason can deliver on the high expectations cuz that’s the only way this team has a chance to make the playoffs. Pretty heavy load to shoulder for someone who has never played at the ML level before.

prattvillenolzfan

February 17th, 2010
1:33 pm

Until spring training is in full swing, and the Braves start playing games, it’s really hard to predict how these Braves are going to be.

I agree with you Mark about Cliff Lee. The Phillies have the making of imploding this year if they are not careful. If Halliday doesn’t quickly adapt, and Lidge continues his struggles, this could be the year the Phillies digress. Besides, isn’t it time for a couple of the Phillies hitters to have a down year.

The Braves can easily win 90 games just as they can easily lose 90 games………Spring training’s next week. Can’t wait

and who they heck cares about being 1st

Mark Bradley

February 17th, 2010
1:34 pm

The Braves are hoping Chipper is OK, carrollton. Because if he isn’t, there’s really not a big-time young third baseman in the chain. (Maybe they could call up Freeman and move Glaus across the infield.)

Mark Bradley

February 17th, 2010
1:35 pm

And it’s way too early for predictions, prattvillenolzfan. Except that it’s never really too early for predictions, is it?

TommyP

February 17th, 2010
1:36 pm

There’s a serious gap between the Phils and everyone else. It’s their division again this year.

Mets are reeling and Minaya is probably done at some point this season.

Marlins? They’ll be in the thick of things…they always are. Actually held onto guys instead of shipping them off so they could be interesting but I don’t see them winning it.

Nats? Better than last year but not very good.

Braves: In the Wild Card race but no division for them.

Chanticleer

February 17th, 2010
1:36 pm

7th!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

fieldofdreams

February 17th, 2010
1:38 pm

Here’s hoping that Frank Wren’s recipe for the 2010 Braves yields a tasty season. If the chips fall the right way we can end up in the World Series, if not,.500 is not out of the question.

chem

February 17th, 2010
1:38 pm

When Lowe tired last year, he was leaving everything up in the zone. He was never that good in LA, just a product of that pitcher friendly park. If you look at his home/away splits he was awful away from LA. At least he’s only the #4 pitcher in this rotation.

Brian

February 17th, 2010
1:39 pm

Really strange that we can go from a bare outfield to a really strong one so quickly. Lets hope that this years collection comes up big as some were thinking last years group would more than get the job done. Personally, (Diaz, McClouth, Heyward) > (Anderson, Shafer, Jeff) by leaps and bounds. Plus we have Melky and Shafer for depth.

TommyP

February 17th, 2010
1:39 pm

If Halladay “doesn’t adapt”? What, to these fierce NL lineups as opposed to pitching against the Yanks, Red Sox and the rest of the AL? That’s all you have to hope for?

Phils are EASILY the team to beat, folks.

Daniel

February 17th, 2010
1:40 pm

AHHHH… nothing more fun and relevant in predicting a 162 game season even before spring training. It is very much like a whoopee cushion… kinda fun, in the wrong hands totally annoying and definitely useless. How are your hands Mark?

carrolltondawg

February 17th, 2010
1:40 pm

Thanks Mark point taken, but then your talking moving Glaus to third which may not work out either… Do you think it will be Chipper’s last year?

matt_t

February 17th, 2010
1:40 pm

heh, not only first but actual content instead of just screaming first.

How often does that happen?

Daniel

February 17th, 2010
1:40 pm

relevant than … sorry. oh, well blogging in the wrong hands here.

Mark Bradley

February 17th, 2010
1:41 pm

One thing about Philly: Jimmy Rollins hit .250 last season and had to finish strong to manage that. He’s 31. Was that a down year or the beginning of something more dire?

TommyP

February 17th, 2010
1:41 pm

Lowe wasn’t awful away from Dodger stadium.

Mark Bradley

February 17th, 2010
1:41 pm

Not often, matt t. Double kudos.

Daniel

February 17th, 2010
1:41 pm

as often as blogger self congratulations Matt.

D.W.

February 17th, 2010
1:42 pm

The best the Braves will do is finish 3rd. A Mets resurgence could put them in fourth. With Bobby Cox at the helm no way they’ll be better than the Fish.

Mark Bradley

February 17th, 2010
1:42 pm

It’s too soon to know, carrollton. Chipper wants to play until he’s 40. He turns 38 this spring. But he won’t play much longer if he’s got nothing left.

Brian

February 17th, 2010
1:44 pm

And giving up Cliff Lee was tough I’m sure and keeping him would have been great. But I would trade him for Roy H every time. I am not looking forward to facing him, but maybe him being a righty is a better match-up for our lineup. Idk I would love to be wrong about this.

Mark Bradley

February 17th, 2010
1:44 pm

Oh, and Brian, I wouldn’t call this outfield “strong” yet. It pretty much comes down to Heyward being really good really soon.

Daniel

February 17th, 2010
1:45 pm

D.W.- Man, you are sooo right with Cox at the helm this team will never, ever be better than the Marlins, Mets or Phillies. I mean especially if you overlook 20 or his 25 year career; he like never wins.

Mark Bradley

February 17th, 2010
1:45 pm

Checking out for a bit. Going to get ashes. Anyone want a Filet-o-Fish from McDonald’s?

(Useless fact: Michael Vick’s favorite McDonald’s entree is the Filet-o-Fish.)

prattvillenolzfan

February 17th, 2010
1:51 pm

Hey Mark,

Making predictions and offering opinions about them is what keeps people like you and Schultz in business…..

TommyP

My point is that yes Halliday has pitched to the Yankees and Sox for the past 10 years. Because of that, he knows what their hitters strengths and weaknesses are I am not saying the NL East is superior, only that he’s going to need time to gain familairity with the rest of the NL…If you remember, Santana had somewhat of a rough couple of months his 1st year with the Mets.

I agree with you. The Phillies are definately the team to beat. But I still like this team’s chances!!!!!!

Mark Biles

February 17th, 2010
1:55 pm

I don’t think we’ll have to worry about a Mets resurgence displacing the Braves from a possible second place finish. The Mets pitching is certainly not as good as the Braves and with Francouer in RF, they’re no better off than the Braves with Melky in RF. I think we can finish second if we don’t have a lot of injuries.

Frank Robinson (Rockmart)

February 17th, 2010
1:59 pm

Filet-o-fish is good.

Hillbilly Deluxe

February 17th, 2010
2:01 pm

I’ve always been a fan of Nate McLouth. He’s no Hall Of Famer, but he’s a good, solid player and he’s a gamer. If memory serves, I made comments on here to that affect, last summer.

Knockahoma's Teepee

February 17th, 2010
2:08 pm

wind will blow good this year at Turner Field…..Braves will go to World Series and lose

fanofthebraves

February 17th, 2010
2:09 pm

I have never had a Filet-o-fish and who gives a damn about what Mike Vick likes. He can kiss my a.s.

WonderDawg

February 17th, 2010
2:10 pm

I’ll believer Chipper’s okay when I see him in the linup opening day, Mark. He injured his thumb while playing golf! Golf! It just illustrates how fragile he really is.

prattvillenolzfan

February 17th, 2010
2:11 pm

going to mickey d’s and ordering fish is like going to Captain D’s and ordering the chicken plate

Bravissimo

February 17th, 2010
2:11 pm

Filet o fish is ok but a DQ Double CB is better….right Sonny??

MCook

February 17th, 2010
2:15 pm

Word has it that Chipper hit the weight room hard this off season. Stay tuned…

Sonny Clusters

February 17th, 2010
2:15 pm

That’s not real fish. Fish are not square. Did anyone figure out what it’s called when you hit a hushpuppy with a bat? Let this Clusters weigh in on Chipper Jones . . . 230# . . . no, we really want to weigh in on moving him to first or to the American League. That would allow Glaus at third (already a fielding improvement). Chipper is going to miss a lot of games no matter where he is stationed and coming in off another thumb injury (golf sustained thumb injury) and weighing more than a sportswriter does not bode well.

P. Bull Terrier

February 17th, 2010
2:17 pm

I sure miss the days when the only question about the Braves was, “Which pitcher will win the Cy Young Award this year?”

JTH

February 17th, 2010
2:18 pm

PECOTA is a bunch of overrated hogwash designed by nerds who never suited up for a game in their lives.

Gary

February 17th, 2010
2:22 pm

I’m always amazed how supposed baseball fans like DW with absolutely no big league esperiece (did you even play little league ball?) can be so critical of Cox, yet talk to any professional player or coach and they will let you know in a hurry that Cox is one of the most respected managers in the game. The Nats, Marlins or Mets better than the Braves? Dont make me laugh. I’m pulling for Bobby to end his career once again on top.

siskel_god

February 17th, 2010
2:24 pm

I’m worried less about the infield than I am the outfield. If CJ or Glaus go down Martin can shift to either spot and be adequate and Omar is better than alot of starting second baseman. Hinske, IMO, is nothing more than an upgrade over Norton. I still see Prado and Omar being the primary backups in the infield. I know I’m beating a dead horse but Damon sure would look good in left with Nate and Heyward in center and right. Wagner doesn’t concern me because of Saito, with our depth in the minors we can always make a move. Plus I think Moylan can close as well. Be interesting to see how long it takes Freeman to make it to Gwinnett and if he continues to rise at his meteoric pace. I actually like this team more and more the closer spring gets, FW has shown he’s more than willing to go for it early in the season and make bold moves throughout the season.

Herschel Talker

February 17th, 2010
2:28 pm

MB:

You never get things like this right, and you know it.

HT

Balderdash

February 17th, 2010
2:29 pm

If Chipper hits and doesn’t sit. If Glaus hits and can play first. If Wagner can bounce back strong. If Heyward can put up Bob-Horner-rookie-year numbers without also breaking his wrist. That’s a lot of ifs, but if all that happens, they contend. If not, it could be one wild and crazy summer all over again … except Jim Varney’s dead.

Parker Pasestcatelli

February 17th, 2010
2:31 pm

A Filet-O-Fish is a dang fine hamburger.

Barry

February 17th, 2010
2:36 pm

A lot of things will have to go right for the Braves to finish 2nd. I think their pitching will be really good. I think Lowe will have a good year, and will make up for the loss of Vazquez, and if Hudson is healthy, this should be a good year for starting pitching. It is going to have to go right with Wagner. And its a bit more of a stretch hoping it will go well with Glaus. But if Glaus holds his own and Wagner is solid, and if Heyward is able to contribute and if Chipper is healthy and if McClouth does have a resurgent year, then this could be an interesting year. But I think all those things will have to break right for it to be a playoff year.

AndyC

February 17th, 2010
2:40 pm

Wow. PECOTA just crushed Matt Diaz. Is that guy ever going to get a chance to be an every day player? I think he has earned it.

RDM

February 17th, 2010
2:41 pm

My burning question is who are the leading candidates to be the Braves manager next year?

Tailback U

February 17th, 2010
2:44 pm

The closer we get to the beginning of the season the less I feel
optimistic. Unless the pitching is truly dominant we could end
up third or forth this year. We need a deal of significance
by June I believe . Hoping I am wrong but as has been said so
many things have to go right otherwise.