With Opening Day creeping up on us, it’s time to come up with my annual bold predictions for the Braves. I did pretty well on these last year, predicting huge years from both Dansby Swanson and Kyle Wright, but ultimately, the one prediction that really mattered — the Braves becoming the first team to go back-to-back since 2000 — was not fulfilled. The postseason was a nightmare for a team that accomplished so much during the regular season. Thankfully, the Braves are going to have a few more cracks at this before their championship window closes, and I expect them to find themselves in a very similar position this October.
Braves will win over 100 games again
Winning 100 regular season games is a sign that you’re an elite baseball team. Usually, only one or two teams accomplish the feat. Last year, four teams did it — Braves, Dodgers, Astros, and Yankees. Sometimes, nobody does. Regardless, 100 wins is an obvious sign of a damn good baseball team, which is what the Braves will be again in 2023.
Atlanta has all the makings of being a better team this year than they were a year ago. Losing Dansby Swanson stings. Vaughn Grissom will undoubtedly be a downgrade, but the rest of the team around him will be better.
Ronald Acuña Jr. and Ozzie Albies were not themselves last year. Acuña was playing through pain in his knee following the torn ACL injury he suffered in 2021. As he gets further away from that injury, the more he will start looking like an MVP again. Meanwhile, Albies missed most of the season with two separate injuries. Those two just being healthy will make the Braves a significantly better team than they were a year ago.
The Braves will also benefit from having Spencer Strider and Michael Harris II for the entire season. Strider began last season as a reliever, and Harris wasn’t called up until the end of May. With both of them in their respective roles for an entire season, that should result in more wins.
Left field is the one black hole in the Braves lineup, but frankly, it can’t be any worse than what the Braves had at the position last year. Marcell Ozuna and Eddie Rosario were two of the worst players in the game. If they can just bounce back and be replacement-level pieces, the Braves will be a better team. Anything more than that is icing on the cake.
Finally, the addition of Sean Murphy should do wonders for the pitching staff. Having him and d’Arnaud behind the plate every day is something that cannot be understated. They are the best catching tandem in baseball, and while I loved William Contreras, Murphy is a substantial upgrade that will help get the most out of the Braves pitchers.
The offseason was quiet in Atlanta for the most part, but that’s because this team didn’t need to go out and make a bunch of flashy signings. They already featured one of the most complete rosters in the league. If the Braves stay healthy, they’ll win over 100 games again and capture the NL East for the 6th straight year.
Photo: Rich von Biberstein/Icon Sportswire