Braves: Predicting 2021 stats – Starting Lineup

stats

As I’ve said throughout my editions of Opening Day roster predictions — the starting lineup is set in stone. Here’s what it will look like:

  1. Ronald Acuna Jr. (RF)
  2. Ozzie Albies (2B)
  3. Freddie Freeman (1B)
  4. Marcell Ozuna (LF)
  5. Travis d’Arnaud (C)
  6. Dansby Swanson (SS)
  7. Austin Riley (3B)
  8. Cristian Pache (CF)
  9. Pitcher’s Spot

This is the second part of my two-part series where I predict the Braves starters’ 2021 statistics. The first piece covered the starting pitchers, this one will go through the lineup. I’ll begin from the top.

Ronald Acuna Jr.

If Acuna can up his average from his 2020 mark, he will win the MVP. His plate discipline was incredible last season, which is why — despite hitting just .250 (the lowest mark of his career by 30 points), his OBP was 41 points better than his previous career-high. The power is always going to be there; I expect him to hit 40 home runs with ease, but if he can continue to get on base at a .400 clip, he will become just the sixth member of the 40/40 club, and first player to ever record 45 homers and 45 steals in a single season.

2021 Stat Predictions: .274/.398/.577, 47 homers, 100 RBIs, 46 stolen bases, 8.1 WAR

Ozzie Albies

All devoted baseball fans are well aware of just how fantastic Ozzie Albies is, but I feel like the the average fan might not be aware of how well-rounded and valuable he is to the Braves. He had a rough 2020, thanks primarily to injuries, but he still bounced back to hit .271 and record 0.7 WAR in just 29 games. That’s not too shabby considering it was arguably the worst stretch of his career. Albies is 100% ready to begin 2021, and I expect for him to return to form.

2021 Stat Predictions: .281/.343/. 501, 21 homers, 80 RBIs, 20 stolen bases, 4.5 WAR

Freddie Freeman

Freeman had an unbelievable 2020, which ultimately ended in an NL MVP award. However, even though he is probably the most consistent player in baseball not named Mike Trout, I expect there to be some regression. There’s just no way Freeman can keep up his 2020 numbers of an entire 162-game season. Still, he should be involved in some MVP conversations by the end of the year.

2021 Stat Predictions: .312/.409/.550, 29 homers, 122 RBIs, 7 stolen bases, 6.1 WAR

Marcell Ozuna

While I expect Freeman to experience some regression, nobody on the Braves will suffer from more regression than Ozuna. I still expect him to be fantastic, but he nearly one the NL Triple Crown last season. If it weren’t for his porous defense, he would have been the one handed the NL MVP trophy last season, not Freddie Freeman. I don’t expect Ozuna to be in the race this season, but he will do his job, which is force pitchers to throw to Freeman and rack up RBIs when opportunities present themselves.

2021 Stat Predictions: .287/.356/.497, 33 homers, 111 RBIs, 6 stolen bases, 4.1 WAR

Travis d’Arnaud

d’Arnaud is another candidate for regression. I also don’t expect him to play anywhere close to 162 games; he should be good for a little over 100 if he stays healthy. All things considered, I still think he will be a critical piece to the Braves offense.

2021 Stat Predictions: .280/.335/.438, 18 home runs, 69 RBIs, 2 stolen bases, 1.9 WAR (108 games)

Dansby Swanson

Some might think Swanson is a regression candidate, and that’s understandable. He’s been just over a replacement-level player for most of his career, but last season, he led all shortstops in bWAR. Yes, that includes Fernando Tatis. That’s how elite Swanson was offensively and defensively at arguably the most important position on the field. In my opinion, this has been a longtime coming for Swanson. He’s an All-Star caliber player, and I expect him to have the best year of his career in 2021.

2021 Stat Predictions: .280/.353/.445, 19 home runs, 85 RBIs, 11 stolen bases, 3.9 WAR

Austin Riley

Riley’s the most difficult player on this list to predict because he could break out and hit 40 bombs, or he could continue to struggle and be a below replacement-level player. As much as I would love to predict the late, I’m going to have to go with the latter. He’ll hit some home runs, but I’m skeptical he will ever hit for much average in the majors. Hopefully, I’m wrong.

2021 Stat Predictions: .235/.303/.465, 29 home runs, 76 RBIs, 1 stolen base, 0.5 WAR

Cristian Pache

Pache is difficult to project as well; however, I believe he will win the Gold Glove as a rookie in center field. He’s that elite defensively. That aspect alone will make him a valuable commodity; anything he adds with the stick is just icing on the cake.

2021 Stat Predictions: .249/.311/.400, 13 home runs, 55 RBIs, 12 stolen bases, 2.5 WAR

 

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