Good morning. This is LEADOFF, today’s early look inside Atlanta sports.
USA Today offered a “semi-scientific guess” at the 2018 records of all 30 MLB teams, forecasting a 76-86 record for the Braves.
The projections have the Braves tying the Phillies for third place in the five-team NL East, behind the Nationals and Mets and ahead of only the Marlins.
Miami’s latest teardown should inflate the records of the Braves and the other NL East teams to some extent, given that each will play 19 games against the barren Marlins, who are projected to go a worst-in-MLB 60-102. Still, a 76-86 record for the Braves would represent the team’s fourth consecutive losing season and only an incremental four-win improvement from last season’s 72-90 record.
The projections were based on season simulations by a panel of six writers and editors. The panel correctly predicted all six division winners last year, a feat USA Today acknowledges is “not because we’re brilliant … but simply because at a time when so few teams are trying to win, a chance that a ‘surprise team’ messes up the calculus is greatly diminished.”
It’s also worth noting that 12 months ago the panel projected the 2017 Braves would go 70-92, missing their final record by just two wins.
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Meanwhile, the Braves posted the annual photos of the equipment trucks being loaded for the trip to spring training, which opens next week.
READ ON …
> Check out David O’Brien’s blog here about why the Braves didn’t sign Todd Frazier and probably won’t make a strong push for Mike Moustakas.
> Speaking of rebuilding teams, Michael Cunningham writes about the Hawks’ thinking as Thursday’s NBA trade deadline approaches.