Well friends, we all know I don't write much anymore. And if you know me at all you know why (planning a wedding, CFO job, travel, etc). I can't say I'll be doing this next year again, but we'll see what the cards hold. I'm always willing to take a look back at the end of the year though and see where I was right, wrong, and how the Braves surprised me.
So here is an analysis of my BOLD PREDICTIONS at the beginning of the season.
- The Starting Rotation will be bottom 10 in the majors: CORRECT! Hell, not only did one of our starters completely flame out and get released (Bartolo, and I called that one as being fat and old), but Julio Teheran had one of his worst years of his career (again, I called that he'd hit the skids), Folty didn't post an ERA under 4.00 (which I pointed out he never had), but RA Dickey and Garcia were nice surprises that kept it from being a total trainwreck. Savor this one because I get very wrong very fast.
- Dansby Swanson wins Rookie of the Year: OMG WRONG! I mean it's hard to win ROY honors when you're getting demoted to AAA mid-way through the season because you're sucking. My guess is he figures it out next season with a better mental approach, but I'm not betting on him lighting it up until he fixes a few holes in his game.
- Freddie Freeman hits 40+ homers: SLIGHTLY WRONG. I say slightly because Freddie missed almost 6 weeks of time and 48 games. If you take the 28 homers he hit in 116 games and play them out over a 156 game season (Freddie doesn't take many days off), he gets about 38 and comes up just short. And that's assuming averages. So I'm slightly wrong here due to math and such.
- The offense will be top 10 in runs scored: HILARIOUSLY WRONG. We're near the bottom middle in runs scored, and it's all because our infield was mostly pathetic at hitting the ball until we brought up some guys from AAA mid-year. Ozzie and Camargo I'm looking at you.
- The bullpen will be a trainwreck we still haven't fixed: OUTSTANDINGLY CORRECT. You should have bet your house on it. Not only is the bullpen one of the top 5 worst in ERA this year, we were also top 10 in Blown Saves. And that's pretty amazing because we only had 58 save opportunites all year long.
- Somebody will pitch a no-hitter in SunTrust Park: SLIGHTLY WRONG. Folty took one to the 9th back in July, but it was taken apart in the 9th inning as those things are so wont to do.
- Brian Snitker will get a contract extension mid-year: WRONG! Man, not only wrong but he might get fired after all this. Which would make this the weirdest offseason yet for the Braves team, if you believe the article that Ken Rosenthal put out there about the Braves front office in turmoil.
- Parking around the stadium will be fine by July: AWESOMELY RIGHT! Holy crap, if there was anything more overblown than parking concerns around SunTrust it was the narrative that the traffic would be horrendous. It's the easiest thing I've ever seen in Atlanta sports to get to that ballpark. It's also gorgeous and the best move that's been made by any team in this city. Getting out of downtown should be a standard for all teams moving forward. Downtown is an abyss of traffic wasteland.
- The Braves will change regular closers at least twice: CORRECT! The Braves used two closers regularly but didn't trust Jim Johnson after blowing 9 saves, so they tried Jason Motte briefly who also blew 3 saves without ever getting one, and finally settled on Vizzy.
- The Braves get 76 wins: WRONG BUT STILL RIGHT! They got 72 wins, which isn't 76, but it does cover the over 71.5 that Vegas predicted which means if you bet the over based on my prediction (which would be stupid, what were you thinking?) you still won. I'm calling this one a wash.
That means it's 4-5-1 in terms of right, wrong, and tied. That's pretty terrible by me, but hey, it was a pretty terrible season. I mean for heaven's sake the Nats clinched the division in early September and won by 20 games. I hate that Nats. I hope they lose in the first round again so we can go on mocking them for never winning a playoff series.
SURPRISES OF THE YEAR!
Ender Inciarte being awesome shouldn't be a surprise, but he was really awesome. Ender finished the year with 200+ hits on the season, joining a club of Braves such as ABSOLUTELY NOBODY since 1996 when Marquis Grissom did it.
Lane Adams might actually be a good utility guy. Lane had a .800+ OPS in over 100 plate appearances so I'd like to see more out of the guy in spring training 2018. He's got a chance to be a really great bench guy if not regular utility player.
Johan Camargo looks like an infielder of the future. The dude hit almost .300 on the year, and he's played very sharply at the hot corner and SS. He's only 23 and doesn't look scared in the least to be playing at the MLB level.
Ozzie wasn't bad at all! I gave the kid a lot of crap, but so far he's making me eat my words that Dansby would be the better prospect, given Ozzie's size. I hope he keeps it up because that's just more success for the Braves.
Matt Adams was amazing for a while! I was shocked that Matt basically filled in when Freddie Freeman was out and went on an absolute tear at the plate. Matt hit 19 homers and 58 RBIs, but the Braves should have traded him mid-season when there was big interest, and they dropped the ball I think.
Sean Newcomb might be an answer. I can't say for sure, but the kid has some stuff and he's battled through an entire bad season with up and down results. Still, he was the best of the young guns that I saw and I like his upside for the long term.
And that's about it for the year. I look forward to the long wait until next year because I will forget the pain of losing this season and start to believe in our future and the process. That's what we hold to in 2018, that we'll finally be competitive team again. A .500+ team again. A team that can challege Washington down the stretch and possibly retake the NL East in this decade. Yes, that's a team I want to believe in.