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3 BRAVES

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OVERALL RANK 10

ENEMY LINES

A RIVAL SCOUT SIZES UP ATLANTA

They'll be moving into a new ballpark, and unlike last year's team, they'll be watchable, maybe even interesting. But a contender? No.... Matt Kemp's getting out of the Hollywood scene and coming to Atlanta, where he can just focus on baseball, is a great thing for him. He'll never get back to MVP caliber, but he still has one or two All-Star seasons in him.... Ender Inciarte is one of the more underrated players. He does everything well, including Gold Glove defense, and he's just entering his prime.... Nick Markakis sets up the whole lineup. He's finally healthy, and he could still earn his contract, but his defense is holding him back from being a valuable player.... Dansby Swanson is a true grinder, plays plus defense and plays hard and seems wise beyond his years. His offensive numbers won't be eye-popping, but he'll be a mainstay for years to come.... Brandon Phillips is a guy who took advantage of the ballpark in Cincinnati to put up big numbers. But he's trending downward.... Julio Teheran is never going to be your Verlander-type ace; his stuff is not that good. But I always like seeing total power guys learn how to pitch, and he's done that.... Old horses Bartolo Colón and R.A. Dickey will give them decent innings, and the team can save the young starters.... John Hart did it in Cleveland, was patient with the development process as he took a bad team and made it competitive. The Braves will be in the hunt, but young-stud arms like Kolby Allard, Touki Toussaint and Ian Anderson are at least two years away.

MANAGER BRIAN SNITKER

2ND SEASON WITH ATLANTA

B-T BA OBP SLG WAR

CF ENDER INCIARTE [DEFENSIVE STAR]

L-L .281 .351 .381 3.8

SS DANSBY SWANSON [ROOKIE] [DEFENSIVE STAR] [BARGAIN] [RISING]

R-R .302 .361 .442 0.9

1B FREDDIE FREEMAN [TEAM MVP]

L-R .302 .400 .569 6.5

LF MATT KEMP [INJURY RISK] [DECLINING]

R-R .268 .304 .499 0.0

RF NICK MARKAKIS

L-L .269 .346 .397 1.7

2B BRANDON PHILLIPS [NEW ACQUISITION] [DECLINING]

R-R .291 .320 .416 0.8

3B ADONIS GARCÍA

R-R .273 .311 .406 0.2

C TYLER FLOWERS

R-R .270 .357 .420 0.3

BENCH

B-T BA OBP SLG WAR

C KURT SUZUKI [NEW ACQUISITION]

R-R .258 .301 .403 0.4

UT JACE PETERSON

L-R .254 .350 .366 0.4

IF CHASE D'ARNAUD

R-R .245 .317 .335 0.1

W--L ERA K/9 WAR

RH JULIO TEHERAN [BARGAIN]

7--10 3.21 8.0 4.8

RH BARTOLO COLÓN [NEW ACQUISITION] [DEFENSIVE STAR]

15--8 3.43 6.0 3.4

LH JAIME GARCÍA [NEW ACQUISITION]

10--13 4.67 7.9 0.8

RH R.A. DICKEY [NEW ACQUISITION] [DECLINING]

10--15 4.46 6.7 0.4

RH MIKE FOLTYNEWICZ

9--5 4.31 8.1 1.4

SV ERA K/9 WAR

RH JIM JOHNSON

20 3.06 9.5 1.5

RH ARODYS VIZCAÍNO [INJURY RISK]

10 4.42 11.6 -0.5

NEW ACQUISITION

2016 STATS

(R) ROOKIE

TEAM MVP

DEFENSIVE STAR

INJURY RISK

BARGAIN

RISING

DECLINING

MODEST PROPOSAL

If you're going to sign Bartolo Colón and R.A. Dickey as rotation ballast while your young pitchers come along, you may as well get the most out of them. Since Colón is an ultradurable strike-thrower and Dickey is a knuckleballer, the Braves should lean heavily on the two for innings on an otherwise low-endurance staff—especially when contention isn't really likely. Getting seven innings per start from each of the two veterans would take pressure off a young, promising bullpen and free Brian Snitker to handle Jaime García, Mike Foltynewicz, Matt Wisler and Aaron Blair with more care.

BOTTOM LINE

Downright presentable for a rebuilding team, but not yet ready for a return to the playoffs.