Baseball Prospectus sees the Braves finishing 2nd to Philly

Dan Uggla chats with the cat in the hat. (OK, Frank Wren.) (AJC photo by Jason Getz)

Dan Uggla chats with the cat in the hat. (OK, Frank Wren.) (AJC photo by Jason Getz)

Pretty much everybody awarded the 2011 National League East title to the Phillies when they landed Cliff Lee to go with Roy Halladay, Cole Hamels and Roy Oswalt. Now Baseball Prospectus, the best of the many numbers-heavy baseball sites, joins the queue.

Writing for ESPN Insiders, Ben Lindbergh of BP projects the Philies to make it five division titles in a row. (Link requires registration.) Interestingly enough, Lindbergh doesn’t gush. Indeed, he and his numbers project 91 victories for a team that won 97 in 2010.

As for the Braves: Mr. Lindbergh has them finishing second in the East at 87-75, which would also mark a recession. (The Braves were 91-71 last season.) He forecasts that Dan Uggla will hit 29 home runs — nothing like being exact in a prediction, eh? — and thinks the Braves should outscore the Phillies. But here are Mr. Lindbergh’s quibbles regarding the Braves, and I quote it in its entirety because they’re also two of mine.

Uggla’s arrival isn’t all good news, as the slugger isn’t known for his leather (at least not in a good way). Between his presence at the keystone, Martin Prado’s forced relocation to left field and a heavier dose of Chipper Jones at third, the Braves stand to take a hit defensively. They also figure to lose ground in the bullpen, thanks to the departures of Billy Wagner and Takashi Saito, and expected regression from younger arms. Even if they don’t miss Bobby Cox, they will miss last year’s run prevention, since PECOTA [that's a Prospectus numerical projection thingy] expects them to allow more than 70 more runs than they did last season.

Mr. Lindbergh identifies starting pitcher Brandon Beachy as a Brave who could surprise and reliever Jonny Venters as one who could disappoint. (His reasoning on Venters: He doesn’t have a career history of striking out a lot of guys, although he struck out a lot of guys as a rookie.) And with that, I leave you to feel all glum as we await the first full-squad workout, which comes Saturday at Disney.

By Mark Bradley

168 comments Add your comment

Matt

February 17th, 2011
6:46 pm

Mark Bradley

February 17th, 2011
6:46 pm

Kudos, Matt.

todd grantham

February 17th, 2011
6:50 pm

where is the famous rawdawg?

todd grantham

February 17th, 2011
6:52 pm

i continue to believe the Braves achillies heel is being slowafoot and poor defensively.

todd grantham

February 17th, 2011
6:52 pm

Mark- achillies heel-slowafoot. get it? heh

todd grantham

February 17th, 2011
6:54 pm

i think 87-75 is a pretty good guess. Unless suddenly Uggla gets better with his glove and Heyward shows people how to run.

todd grantham

February 17th, 2011
6:56 pm

I look forward to Fredi’s first tossing this season. he will be what, 150 or so behind Bobby?

"Chef" Tim Dix

February 17th, 2011
6:58 pm

pen is ready.

todd grantham

February 17th, 2011
6:58 pm

gosh, this seem like a monoblog.

Nate D

February 17th, 2011
7:05 pm

Mark Bradley what do you think the pitchers and the batters rotation will be?

Johnny

February 17th, 2011
7:06 pm

The key to the Braves is their young guys. If Hanson, Prado, Heyward, Jurrjens/Minor, and Freeman all have a solid to great year (in terms of expectations), then the Braves will contend for the division. If most have a solid to great year then they’ll contend for the Wild Card.

Mark Bradley

February 17th, 2011
7:08 pm

rawdawg is generally a daytime presence.

Mark Bradley

February 17th, 2011
7:10 pm

Batting order: Prado, McLouth, Chipper, Uggla, McCann, Heyward, Freeman, Sea Bass.

Pitchers: Hudson, Hanson, Lowe, JJ, Minor/Brandon Beachy

GT Alum

February 17th, 2011
7:16 pm

Beating the Phillies would be nice, but I’d be happy with the WC. Guess he didn’t say if he expects 87 wins to be good enough for the wild card.

Also, I have a hard time buying the Braves being 70 runs worse because Prado in LF is probably still better than Melky/Diaz in LF, and I expect Freeman to be an upgrade at 1B over Glaus (who was there most of the year). Also, you could argue a full year of AGon will be better than half-AGon, half-Yunel, and Heyward should benefit from additional familiarity with the major league parks.

I also expect the starting rotation to be better this year. There’s a good chance Hudson isn’t as good this year, but I expect Hanson to continue to mature. I also expect more consistent production from JJ’s slot in the rotation. I don’t expect Lowe to be any worse, and, if he can keep doing the things he was doing at the end of the year, he could be significantly better. I also expect the fifth spot in the rotation to be no worse than it was last year.

I understand expecting less production out of the ‘pen, but I think expecting the defense to be a lot worse than last year’s is to overlook how bad our defense was last year. And I expect the rotation to be at least marginally better, and perhaps significantly so.

Mark Bradley

February 17th, 2011
7:19 pm

There was no wild-card projection made in this post, GT. And BP’s Central and West forecasts aren’t yet online.

5150 UOAD

February 17th, 2011
7:20 pm

Unless we find some SPEED i see the braves finishing 4th. Big Bats don’t always deliver when needed.

UGASlobberknocker

February 17th, 2011
7:20 pm

I think concern about Venters is legit. He came out of nowhere..can he do it two yrs in a row? I hope so.

fanATicaL

February 17th, 2011
7:22 pm

I differ with you gentlemen.The glass half full kind of thing.The speed should come from Mcclouth and Heyward.But we have power from top to bottom.Looking for Mccanns to rebound from last season.Chipper looks good so far.Surely Freeman can do better than Lee at first,defensively.Between the back and wrist issue .With all those issues last year we ended with 91 wins.Which we won the series against the Phillies last season.I just love our young players.Not to mention the fight in center field.I think Schafer maybe a wild card not mentioned.Also what about Joe Mather,George Sherrill and Scott Linebrink.We are set for the playoffs.Only a series away from a penant.
Go Braves

todd grantham

February 17th, 2011
7:22 pm

McLouth second?? you have the confidence of Frank Wren.

UGASlobberknocker

February 17th, 2011
7:22 pm

Is it possible to be worse defensively than last year?

Mark Bradley

February 17th, 2011
7:24 pm

It would be tough, UGAS.

UGASlobberknocker

February 17th, 2011
7:25 pm

Since this is probably the most blogged column at the ajc..just wondering Mark, how many hits does this thing get every month? just wondering..keep up the good work

todd grantham

February 17th, 2011
7:26 pm

well, dont forget our friend Brooks Conrad. If he makes the team, he will certainly help this year’s defense to be worse than last year’s. but he should would have a hard time topping 2010.

todd grantham

February 17th, 2011
7:27 pm

uga, put it this way: the blog gets more hits than carter has liver pills. and more than conrad has errors.

Mark Bradley

February 17th, 2011
7:28 pm

It varies month by month, UGAS. Last year this little blog did 8.9 million.

todd grantham

February 17th, 2011
7:28 pm

AND chipper’s knee may be in worse shape than yours Mark.

todd grantham

February 17th, 2011
7:29 pm

3.5 million were by clusters, rawdawg and me.

Coach

February 17th, 2011
7:30 pm

The Braves will be the Braves. Their pedigree of young talent will step in and produce. That is what has made them contenders throughout the years. Production from the farm and smart free agent aquisitions.

Mark Bradley

February 17th, 2011
7:30 pm

Yes, Coach Todd. You three carried the mail. And I appreciate it very much.

todd grantham

February 17th, 2011
7:34 pm

and i dont think any of the 3 of us ever just “mailed it in” on the blog. each comment was either poignant, pithy, witty, insightful, revealing, provoking, funny, heart wrenching, angry or a combination of all.

todd grantham

February 17th, 2011
7:36 pm

that was not to imply i thought you were saying we mailed it in. i understand you were giving kudos.

todd grantham

February 17th, 2011
7:37 pm

i expect the heaviest months are during the fall during the football season. Mark, I’m a little perplexed at the lack of ajc blogging from UGA basketball games. Budget concerns?

todd grantham

February 17th, 2011
7:39 pm

My goodness. that’s 24 thousand plus average hits in a day. a thousand per hour.

todd grantham

February 17th, 2011
7:40 pm

8.9 million is almost as much as damon evans spent on dates last year.

todd grantham

February 17th, 2011
7:41 pm

8.9 million is even more than Wes Durham weighs.

todd grantham

February 17th, 2011
7:41 pm

8.9 million challenges brook whitmire’s decibel level.

todd grantham

February 17th, 2011
7:43 pm

8.9 million is roughly the amount of the Georgia population that thinks Mark Richt should be fired. (Greg McGarity’s not in that group, alas.)

todd grantham

February 17th, 2011
7:46 pm

8.9 million is the amount Barbara spent on rebuilding the house on Milledge

Daniel

February 17th, 2011
7:46 pm

These aren’t Ben Lindbergh’s projections. They’re PECOTA’s projections, which is a player projection system that gives totals for every player in the majors (and minors, for the most part), based on stats from previous years, histories of similar players, etc. The 87 wins is their most likely outcome, but projections like this are normally just +/- 7 wins of the actual total.

Also- a major flaw in PECOTA is their valuation of rookies. One major example- right now they have Freddie Freeman hitting .264/.318/.414 with below average defense, which is much lower than every scout’s projection of him.

I’d say the Braves could easily win 91 or so games with this roster construction.

Mark Bradley

February 17th, 2011
7:47 pm

You’re scaring me now, Coach Grantham.

todd grantham

February 17th, 2011
7:48 pm

8.9 million is the amount AMB spent on ascots last year

Mark Bradley

February 17th, 2011
7:49 pm

The heaviest months are during football season.

And the live-blogging — or the lack thereof — isn’t money-related. We generally have a columnist at every UGA football, Tech football and Falcons game to handle a live blog. That’s not the case with basketball.

todd grantham

February 17th, 2011
7:49 pm

8.9 million is the amount i spend on health insurance these days.

todd grantham

February 17th, 2011
7:50 pm

but i thought you LIKED basketball.

Mark Bradley

February 17th, 2011
7:50 pm

I’m familiar with the PECOTA concept, Daniel. I even know it’s no relation to Bill Pecota.

todd grantham

February 17th, 2011
7:51 pm

8.9 million is roughly the amount of ultraviolet rays that Mark Richt absorbed last year keeping his neat looking tan.

Mark Bradley

February 17th, 2011
7:51 pm

I like basketball very much.

todd grantham

February 17th, 2011
7:52 pm

Mark, do you remember a guy named Bill Naharodney?

Mark Bradley

February 17th, 2011
7:52 pm

In fact, I’ve written about Tech basketball three times this week and Georgia basketball once. And I wrote about the Hawks over the weekend.

Mark Bradley

February 17th, 2011
7:53 pm

I remember the name Bill Nahorodny more than I remember Mr. Bill himself.