Posted: 9:18 am Monday, March 31st, 2014

4 of 44 ESPN analysts pick Braves to win East 

By Mark Bradley

Kris Medlen after his first round of TJ. (Brant Sanderlin/AJC)

Kris Medlen after his first round of TJ. (Brant Sanderlin/AJC)

ESPN has polled its electorate, and from this we learn that only four of its 44 baseball analysts — the Worldwide Leader, as noted often, leads the world in analysts — are picking the Atlanta Braves to repeat as National League East winners. Ninety-one percent of those surveyed believe the Washington Nationals will finish first.

The good news, though, is that 24 of the 44 — more than half! — project the Braves as playoff participants. In addition to the four who pick the Braves over the Nats, 20 tab Atlanta as a wild-card team.

(For the record, the four who pick the Braves to win the East are: Tim Keown, Michael Knisley, Anna McDonald and Jim Caple.)

Now for the bad news. Not one of the 44 believes the Braves will win the World Series, although 30 of the 44 foresee a National League team prevailing. Twelve pick the Nationals, while 11 take the Dodgers and seven the Cardinals. Six pick Tampa Bay, five Detroit, two Boston and one Cleveland.

For the record, I don’t think the Braves will win the East. I did until they lost two starting pitchers to Tommy John surgery in 24 hours, but now I don’t. I do think they’ll win 90 games and grab a wild card, though.

35 comments
TouchdownGurley
TouchdownGurley

They didn't think we would win the East last year either... but we did. I hope we can pull it out again this season, but without Meds the young pitchers will really have to step up. We've got a shot, but those young pitchers and the offense will have to play at a high level. Go Braves!

Hesalive
Hesalive

Pretty simple: if CF and 2nd play up to reasonable MLB standards Braves can win the East. If not, they won't even make playoffs. Can't play this game with one hand tied behind your back. 

GetBackJojo
GetBackJojo

Just as they said last season.

Who gives a rat's patooki what ESPN says?


GO BRAVES !!!

Jazzpman
Jazzpman

Well all will be great with exception to the Upton's as our Achilles heals.... BJ should be riding the pine soon with his production, Justin the better bat is really suited for the American league as a DH.

adirondackdave
adirondackdave

I think the Braves will win 90-92 and will contend for the division title.   Why?   Because again this year the other team will have 6 innings to score and the Braves will have 9.   The fine bullpen is a very significant advantage over a long season.

Wrecker
Wrecker

Couple of things in the Braves' favor:  (1) Braves' defense should be well above average this year.  Defense rarely slumps; (2) Best relief pitching in the NL last year.  Great bullpen ameloriates the bad effects of losing 2 starting pitchers; and (3) Braves were 4th in R/G despite two regulars doing very little at the plate and missing Heyward for 1/3 of the year.

BravesFan1966
BravesFan1966

I love the Braves and have watched them for 50 years or so here in Atlanta.  But their pitching is going to cost them this year.   Their hitting is not good enough.  A mediocre Brewers team man handled them.  They looked weak.  So I think the Nats win this division with a 95 win season, the Braves second with about 83 to 85 and the Fish come in 3d with their great young pitching with 81 or 82 wins.  The others simply stink.  

ThomasBrownUGA
ThomasBrownUGA

Braves cannot hit or field.  Said I wouldn't read this article having listened to the game, but short enough to.

MrGil2U
MrGil2U

How many picked the Braves last season Mark?

Jazzpman
Jazzpman

Please the Braves are hurt, and are lop sided with player that MAY do better this year ? 


Personally I think Blue Job should be batting 9th not 2nd. that means IF and I mean " IF " he ever gets a hit then it would be like he is leading off.


And yes the pitchers seem to have a better batting average then him, thus the 9th in the order.

Iluvnutella
Iluvnutella

We got a wild card IF we.lucky. No starting pitching will be our undoing. Plus, Uggly and Blowj*&b Upton r still on the team.

NajehDavenpoop
NajehDavenpoop

They have lost 4 key players from last year -- 2 due to injury -- and have only replaced one of them. Why wouldn't the media pick against the Braves? I think they CAN win, but I wouldn't give them the best odds to win for this season. A lot has to go right (including injuries) with what's left of the roster for this to be a playoff team.

RangeRover
RangeRover

The Braves have an Achilles Heel by the name of Fredi Jesus González.  He is saddled with a low cognitive ceiling and zero instincts for the game.  Watch his interview after today's game when, as usual, he'll have to ask those interviewing him about the facts and occurrences of the game he just managed moments earlier.  Poor short term memory is a classic indicator of low intelligence.

In baseball, you can occasionally be short on marbles and get lucky (Ozzie Guillen), but you must have baseball instincts and sufficient in-game situational and circumstantial aptitude to win three straight series against postseason caliber teams and managers.  Fredi can't even comprehend effective lineup strategy.

Maybe he'll get lucky!  LOL!

AlwaysReady
AlwaysReady

How many analysts picked Kentucky to be in the Final Four ?

MikeS777
MikeS777

Right now, the salary situation in baseball is essentially creating a AAAA level inside of the Major Leagues.  "Money ball" teams like the Braves and Rays that can't afford to bid on the higher profile players can have good regular seasons and likely make the playoffs, but they don't have good odds at all at winning even a first round series.  Not when you look at the talent that big spenders are stock piling.


So they make the playoffs, give their fans hope for a miracle (like a Dayton or Butler of the NCAA Tournament), but then watch their good players leave for NY, LA, or Boston when they can't afford to pay them anymore.

MikeS777
MikeS777

Yeah looks like the Nationals have become the trendy division pick.  I wouldn't be surprised if their division winning year was the exception and last year was the rule.  They just don't have enough pop in their lineup.  If their pitching isnt lights out this year, the Nats will be lucky to be a Wild Card.


As for the Braves, they should make the playoffs, but they do need a miracle to even get to the World Series.  The Dodgers and Cardinals are better ball clubs (not just in payroll), and that assumes the Giants don't put things back together.  Then you have to believe they would face Detroit, Texas, NY, or Boston in the World Series.  Not happening.  Not unless they have a miracle run like the Marlins in 2003.

BradleyBreeze
BradleyBreeze

How many of those clowns at ESPN picked the Brave's or better yet the RED SOX last year??????????Just goes to show that heart and team chemistry aren't always measured or taken into account by these supposed experts!

LogicalDude
LogicalDude

DawgDadll: "They play the games and let the team records decide who wins. So, 100% of these pundits have NO SAY and NO STANDING in who makes the playoffs."


But you see, the writers have to write something to make people talk. 


And the pundits have to say something before each game to make it sound important. 


Because if you have a commentator say "Well, Doug, I think the team that scores more points today will pull out the win."; then you have a kind of boring pre-game show. 


"I agree, Joe.  If our team doesn't score more points, then they are bound to lose this one." 


DawgDadII
DawgDadII

In MLB they don't have a poll and they don't meet in the back room to fill out a playoff bracket. They play the games and let the team records decide who wins. So, 100% of these pundits have NO SAY and NO STANDING in who makes the playoffs.

Teheran - Santana - Minor isn't all that different from Teheran - Medlen - Minor. Nobody knows at this point if they have enough pitching. I like the Braves chances, I see the offense improving, especially the production from the outfield, and the Braves winning 100+ games.

Bi-Curious_Barack
Bi-Curious_Barack

When the Braves selected the Cobb County location for their new ballpark, did they consider it is right under the flight path of LOUD, distracting, low-flying jets and cargo planes from Dobbins that perform landing maneuvers each evening around the time of each weeknight's first pitch?

Jmonty
Jmonty

I think the Braves will moderately contend.  I think they end up 87-75.  Somewhat respectable.  But, not enough to get into the play-offs.  Ugga and BJ are not cosistant enough to count on.  Freeman and Justin are what we have.  Good news.  Simmons is a great Shortstop and will provide great defense.  The Braves are going to need some luck and calls to go their way in order to make the play-offs.  Just my 2 cents.

extremus
extremus

Injury-wise this season has felt eerily similar to what the Falcons went through out of the gate last fall.  But an MLB season is a long, arduous, and unpredictable marathon.  On paper, sure, the Braves look diminished and vulnerable, but there are countless possible scenarios besides a collapse or "thinking wild card" to consider, among them the possibility that some/all of these rookie pitchers could hold their own, that the offense might actually NOT have two sub-.200 everyday hitters all season, and hey, other teams will undoubtedly have their own injuries (imagine the concerns in Dodgertown if Kershaw's injury had happened to be of the TJ variety).


Que sera sera.  And that's why they play the games.

DirtyDawg
DirtyDawg

Seems to me these same guys picked Washington to win the East last year too...by the way, they (assume Forbes) have now set the Braves value at $730 million. To the best of my memory that's about $250 mil, or so, more than last year...and that's with all the money they've shelled out for the new, long term, contracts. Gee, wonder what could have made the difference? The announced move to Cobb and the promise of some $300+ million from the county seems to have done the job. Liberty Media may be holding out for more and certainly they would put a higher price tag on it - particularly if they could make that TV contract go away - but I still say all this activity has been to 'get the pot right' for them to sell...predict the new owners will have Arthur Blank as one of, if not 'the', principals...Scherholtz (I still don't know or care how it's spelled) and a couple of others with a piece as well. Wonder if the original 'Rover Boys', Bill Barthomay (again the spelling indifference), is still in the picture?

MarkBradley
MarkBradley moderator

Nobody picked the Braves fourth last season, and almost nobody picked them third. They were the consensus choice to finish second behind Washington, which was the consensus choice to win the World Series, which didn't happen.

Just for the record.

Pistol66
Pistol66

This is no big deal! Last season they picked us 3rd or 4th. Our young pitchers will accept the challenge, our lineup will score on anyone, and in the end there is still Kimbrel!

slydawg
slydawg

Prediction and prognostications: Heyward, Freeman, and J. Upton will carry this team throughout the year. They will have their slumps and their swoons but I believe will be more consistent from beginning to the end of the season. The Braves, once again, will rely heavily on their deep bullpen. I would bring up some more young arms in April, May, and June, ready or not, just to save some innings for the bullpen during the late-season stretch. If Minor needs more time, let's bring him back slowly as more time on the DL is not what this team can afford right now. The Braves have decent hitting, excellent defense, and a deep minor league system full of capable arms. Put them all to good use and we'll see where this team is by the All Star break, or at no later than the trade deadline.

JChikara
JChikara

Way too many things would have to break right for Atlanta to even contend this year. Primarily, the hitters would actually have to start producing early until the pitching staff gets healthy by mid-May. Asking Heyward, Uggla, BJ Upton and even Justin Upton to be productive is too much to expect. Atlanta has an 80-82 record headed their way. 

DawgNole
DawgNole

@NajehDavenpoop  

They have ONE championship in 48 seasons here. As you've correctly noted, why WOULDN'T the media--or any logical, unbiased thinker--pick against them?

DawgDadII
DawgDadII

@LogicalDude

I'm getting tired of all the negativity. This is not what Spring and Spring Training is all about, certainly not traditionally. It's about a new year and a new season and renewed hopes and dreams. Beyond that, a lot of the negativity is just illogical - this is a team that won 96 games last year without all cylinders firing. Does the loss of Medlen hurt? You bet, potential 20-game winner. Does the addition of Santana mean nothing? Teams have won Division titles before with good young pitchers like Wood and Hale holding down a couple of spots in the rotation. Is there a guarantee? No. Is there plenty of talent to cheer on? You bet.

I don't think the Nats will hold up any better in 2014 than they did in 2013. Their pitching is just as suspect as the Braves if not more so.

Pistol66
Pistol66

@MarkBradley Mark, maybe the ESPN writers didn't, but it was all over baseball that we were either 3rd after the Phillies(with their great pitching) or 4th if the young players with the Marlins matured.  You were right about Kentucky though.  Cheater Calipari could win it all and then leave for the NBA so he could hold the record for most final four appearances paired with most NCAA probations!

BradleyBreeze
BradleyBreeze

@MarkBradley  ................money doesn't always buy the best team...............it doesn't hurt though!I guess these same guys are picking Los Angeles vs Washington in the NLCS.Who knows?............win lose or draw, I will always be a Brave's fan!!!!

AlwaysReady
AlwaysReady

@JChikara  

.................. You mean Washington will be 80-82,


Atlanta has a 100-62 record headed their way