(Brett Davis - USA Today: Sports)
2016 Record: 68-93, 5th in the NL East
Key Additions: SP Bartolo Colon, SP R.A. Dickey, RHP Luke Jackson, 2B Brandon Phillips, C Kurt Suzuki
Key Subtractions: C A.J. Pierzynski, INF Erick Aybar, RHP Tyrell Jenkins
X-Factor: Dansby Swanson
Normally I wouldn't be excited about a team coming off of a 68 win season, but there's just something about the Braves that intrigues me. The compliment of youth and vets just seems like a recipe for a successful season, even if that still means another year watching the playoffs on their couches in October.
It seems like the route the Braves have been taking over the past 3 seasons has been to unload on MLB-ready players like the Upton brothers, Jason Heyward, and Shelby Miller, and acquiring young talent like Dansby Swanson to put this team on the World Series track sooner rather than later. However, they might have backtracked on that plan when they went out and signed a couple of "veterans" to join their rotation. In fact, they signed the two oldest pitchers in the MLB; 43 year old Bartolo Colon, and 42 year old R.A. Dickey, to compliment their ace, Julio Teheran, who's coming off a decent year (7-10 with a 3.21 ERA).
The Braves also acquired veteran second baseman, Brandon Phillips, to turn double plays with rookie sensation, Dansby Swanson. In doing so, the Braves have arguably the flashiest middle infield in the league. On top of that, Phillips and Swanson are no slouch at the dish either, Swanson hit .302 with 3 home runs in 139 ABs last year, while Phillips hit .291 with 11 home runs in 550 ABs. So not only will Phillips and Swanson be the middle infield, they also could be the 1-2 punch in the Braves lineup.
Record Prediction: 73-89
Now I said above that this will be a successful season, yet I see the Braves winning just 73 games. Now when I say successful, I mean that they improve on last year, as well as give fans a reason to come out to their new ballpark this season. They've definitely got an exciting team, and you'll definitely see some highlights from this team, specifically up the middle with Swanson and Phillips.