Phillies: Breaking down the NL East and how the Phils stack up
1) Atlanta Braves (2019: 97-65, 1st Place)
The Action Network Odds to win division: +190
The Action Network Wins over/under: 90.5
PECOTA win projection: 83-79
PECOTA Chances to make the playoffs: 38.4%
Projecting Starting Lineup:
- Ronald Acuna, Jr.
- Ozzie Albies
- Freddie Freeman
- Marcell Ozuna
- Ender Inciarte
- Dansby Swanson
- Johan Camargo/Austin Riley
- Travis d’Arnaud
The Braves return as two-time NL East champs, and look to retain that title for a third straight season, which hasn’t been done in the East since the 2007-2011 Phillies. They have two of the top-eight MVP vote-getters in Ronald Acuna and Freddie Freeman, and a top-six Cy Young finisher in Mike Soroka.
While Josh Donaldson ended up signing in Minnesota and Brian McCann retired, the Braves replaced their production with Marcell Ozuna and Travis d’Arnaud. Atlanta finished seventh in runs per game, and will need them to cover for the third-most RBIs on the team from Donaldson.
Where the Braves needed to reload is their rotation, and they brought in two legitimate veterans to aid. Phillie-great Cole Hamels and Mariner legend Felix Hernandez were brought in to add some leadership to their otherwise youthful staff, while adapting their games at the end of their careers. They will be taking over for Julio Teheran and Dallas Keuchel, who were seventh and eight on the team in WAR. If Soroka can repeat his performance, and the rest of the starters can best the output of last season, the Braves will be the top of the division again.
Last season, the Braves had the second highest “Pythagorean Luck” score, which compares the anticipated record versus their actual record, and had the third best record in one-run games. There’s no telling if the Braves will have the same “luck” this season, with their second-year pitcher outperforming expectations, and their second-year outfielder blossoming into an MVP candidate. I anticipate that some numbers will come back to earth, but they’re still the team to beat in the division.
My prediction: 92-70, 1st place.