Saturday, February 24, 2018


By Michael Wong

Kissiimmee, Fla.--Offensive is en vogue in Atlanta.  That is the clear conclusion drawn from the first season of MLB baseball at the new ballpark in Atlanta named SunTust Park and to say the home runs were flying out of there at a high rate would be a gross understatement.  It quickly became clear that the Braves' new home would slant heavily to the offense and so players who now call the place home need to get a firm boost for 2018 fantasy baseball.  It is with that backdrop that we take a look at the major storylines from a fantasy baseball angle centering around the Braves this season.

1.  When will Ronald Acuna make his much-anticipated arrival?  There is not a more hot-button topic surrounding the Braves this spring than the MLB status of arguably the top prospect in all of baseball in outfielder Ronald Acuna.  The hype is well-earned here as Acuna looked like the next great five-tool monster who can literally hit the ground running right of the gate if the Braves choose to go that route.  What we do instead foresee happening is that the Braves will stash Acuna in the minors until mid-April like the Chicago Cubs first did with Kris Bryant in order to save a year of arbitration and then the promotion should take place to much fanfare.  In terms of expectations, Acuna hit a combined 21 home runs, stole 45 bases, and batted .326 at Double-A and .344 at TRiple-A a year ago.  That is some crazy fantasy baseball category juice and so it is understandable the urge to reach for Acuna this spring.  Usually, we urge some caution in situations like this but in Acuna's case, we will make a big exception to buy heavily.

2.  Why doesn't Ender Inciarte get his due?  Speaking of Braves outfielders with category juice, one of this site's favorites remain leadoff man Ender Inciarte.  While light on power (just 11 home runs in a massive 718 at-bats a year ago), Inciarte has proven to be a nice asset in runs, average, and steals.  He hit .304, scored 93 runs, and stole 22 bags a year ago and the plan for 2018 is that Inciarte will be asked to run even more.  With an ADP that is VERY affordable, we don't see many better buys than this.

3.  Can Sean Newcomb breath life into what looks like a shaky Braves rotation?  This is the one area that looks very sketchy for the Braves going into 2018 as they currently have washed-up vets Scott Kazmir and Brandon McCarthy joining "ace" Julio Teheran who was simply abysmal a year ago.  Enter hard-throwing youngster Sean Newcomb who can strike out the ballpark but also walk them as well.  While it is obvious Newcomb has a ton of work to do on his control, he has the type of swing-and-miss stuff which makes him a decent late-round upside bet.

4.  Freddie Freeman 2018 MVP?  You better believe it as Freeman was headed there last season before some unfortunate injury luck stole a chunk of games from his bottom line.  Still, despite just accumulating 514 at-bats last season, Freeman slammed 28 home runs and batted .307 while adding third base eligibility.  All here among the Fantasy Sports Boss staff LOVE Freeman and think a true MVP campaign is in the offing.

5.  Ozzie Albies getting a bit overshadowed by Ronald Acuna?  Just a bit as Acuna is getting an insane amount of hype, while Albies is flying a bit under the prospect radar on his own team.  Yes, Albies doesn't have the five-tool game that Acuna possesses but there is still an abundance of talent from the second baseman that should bear fruit in 2018.  Albies is a big base-stealing threat who can pilfer 25 or more bags this season and he also has the ability to hit for average and score runs.  Think Ender Inciarte at second base and so bid accordingly.


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