Whether you are a fan of the team or a sports bettor looking for an edge, you may be wondering what are the betting odds for the Atlanta Braves this season. Currently, the Braves are labeled by Vegas as the second-to-worst team in the entire National League. Only the rebuilding Miami Marlins are considered less likely to win a league pennant. You can currently get 45 to 1 for your money if you back the Braves to win their league. This lack of faith by the experts favors those bold enough to place money on Atlanta as the numbers indicate the Braves are a value as a futures bet. The key is in the talented upside they possess. Let’s dig into the numbers.
The average age of the Braves’ roster is 28.3 years, which places them in the youngest half of MLB teams. Having young, unproven talent translates to a team’s upside as older players are less likely to have breakout years and drastically outperform their career averages. There are two main youngsters that bettors will be seeking a breakout from this year. If it happens, the Braves could easily silence their critics. The first is 24-year-old shortstop Dansby Swanson. Swanson failed to meet lofty expectations in 2017 as he hit a measly .232 and amassing an underwhelming 51 RBI’s. Walk-to-strikeout ratios for a hitter, especially a young one, are very telling. Having patience and attacking only good pitches is the key to becoming a productive big league hitter. In the first half of the 2017 season, Swanson’s BB/K ratio was .43. After the all-star break, Swanson improved his ratio to .6, almost a 40% increase. This was a trend that continued into spring training in 2018 as Swanson posted an impressive .89 BB/K ratio in Grapefruit league play. As tends to happen in baseball, Swanson’s good approaches have finally begun to translate into success at the plate. Through the first couple of weeks of the 2018 season, he is sporting a team-leading .366 batting average and is totaling almost two times the RBI’s/game than he totaled in 2017. A productive Dansby Swanson is a must if this Braves team is to defy the odds in 2018.
26-year-old starting pitcher Mike Foltynewicz will be called upon to lead the unproven Braves’ pitching staff in 2018. The Braves are certainly hoping for a strong season from Foltynewicz who started strong in 2017 but faltered down the stretch. The numbers indicate we should be optimistic that he will finally break out in 2018. The key to sustained success at the major league level for Foltynewicz seems to be not overusing his fastball. His fastball has traditionally been his strikeout pitch, but strangely his overall numbers have suffered when his strikeouts have risen. In the first half of 2017, Foltynewicz was striking out 7.84 batters per nine innings. He held opposing hitters to a relatively low batting average of .265. Post all-star break, however, his K/9 jumped up to 9.15, opponents were hitting nearly .300 off of him, and his starts lasted almost an inning less on average. Thus far in his two starts in the 2018 season, he seems to be committed to mixing in his offspeed pitches more, mainly his changeup, which he has thrown 5% more often this year than last. The result – an opponent batting average of .225. Should the Braves put some wins together this year, Swanson and Foltynewicz will no doubt have to step up and lead with their play.
All team and player statistics courtesy of ESPN, MLB.com, and Fangraphs