Here are 7 bold and not-so-bold predictions that I have for the Atlanta Braves in 2020:
Ronald Acuna Jr. flirts with 40/40 again.
Have we even seen the peak of Acuna yet? This guy is great. He has every tool necessary to be a great baseball player. And he proved it last year. If he improves even a little, he will be in the MVP conversation.
Max Fried establishes himself as the ace.
Max Fried started out his 2019 season electrically. In April of 2019, Fried posted a 2.43 ERA over 29.2 IP. He slowly faded away over the next couple of months up until the All Star Break. But after he All Star break he went right back at it, posting a 3.63 ERA in the 2nd half. He has ace-like stuff and will prove it in 2020.
Will Smith will take over the Closer Role by June.
The Braves signed Will Smith to a three year deal to open up Free Agency on November 14th. Most Braves fans automatically assumed he would be the primary closer until the team came out and said they were still planning to have Melancon close the games. Smith racked up 34 saves last year for the San Francisco Giants with just 4 blown saves along with a 2.76 ERA. This prediction is probably the least bold out of all of these.
The Braves make a move at the deadline.
Here I have the Atlanta Braves bolstering the rotation towards the middle of the season at the trade deadline. I’m talking about Charlie Morton. The Rays will realize by August that they don’t have what it takes to take down the Yankees and they will trade off Morton who is signed with them only for the 2020 season. Morton was great for the Rays i 2019, finishing 3rd in AL Cy Young votings, trailing just Gerrit Cole and Justin Verlander. In 2019, Morton posted a 3.05 ERA with a 2.81 FIP over 194.2 IP. Charlie Morton would almost certainly improve this Braves rotation.
Braves win the East for a 3rd straight season.
The Braves have not been the favorites to win the division the past two seasons. But they did. It’ll be interesting to see how they will do in 2020 because everyone believes they have the division on lock. Atlanta had a very productive offseason, signing LHP Will Smith, C Travis D’Arnaud, LHP Cole Hamels, and LF Marcell Ozuna while re-signing RHP Chris Martin, OF Nick Markakis, and C Tyler Flowers. But they let Josh Donaldson walk which may hurt the team going forward. There is no doubt that the Braves improved their roster all around this offseason, but having Josh would have been great.
Marcell Ozuna returns to the 2017 version.
Now this one is probably the least likely on this list. Ozuna signed with the Braves on January 21st of this year to a one year deal worth $18M. Ozuna is trying to build stock in 2020 and go for an expensive multi-year deal next offseason. Which means he wants to be really good and that’s why I have this as one of my predictions. Last year, Ozuna slashed .243/.330/.474 with 29 homers, 23 doubles, and a 2.6 WAR. I definitely wouldn’t put it past him to play at a superstar level in 2020.
Freddie Freeman has career year.
Freeman has established himself as the best 1st basemen in the MLB and it’s hard to debate against that. Freeman has won gold gloves and silver sluggers and had his best season last year. And he’s been playing through injury throughout the last few seasons. It started to get really bad at the worst time last year right when the playoffs were starting. And he struggled badly and fans were furious. Freeman had surgery at the beginning of the offseason and he said that it helped a lot, “First time in nine years I haven’t had pain in the offseason. … Everything is good. I feel great. I’m ready to go.” The scary part for pitchers is that they’re going to be facing a mad Freddie Freeman with a chip on his shoulder.