Mark Bradley

Mark Bradley is a sports columnist and blogger for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

The Braves are on hold, but ZiPS projects 80 wins in 2018

Regarding the Atlanta Braves, MLB is expected to announce its findings/sanctions any day now, perhaps any minute. Once that happens, the 2017-18 offseason can begin for the local nine. In the interim, here’s a nugget from Dan Szymborski, whose ZiPS projections are must-reads among the sabermetric set. 

In a post for ESPN Insider, Szymborski reports that ZiPS has the 2018 Braves finishing 80-82, which would tie them for second with Miami in the National League East. (Washington is forecast to win 89 games.) ZiPS assigns the Braves a 25.2 percent chance of making the playoffs and an 11.4 percent chance of winning the division. 

The past three seasons have seen the Braves win 67, 68 and 72 games, finishing an aggregate 74 ½ games out of first place. An 80-win season would be both a substantial bump and a semi-validation of their three years of rebuilding. Next year’s Braves, as has been noted, should be much younger than the 2017 edition. Now for the boilerplate caveat: Projections are not performance. 

Another caveat: ZiPS only projects those players on a team’s current roster. Free agency can/will rearrange the landscape, and the Braves don’t figure to be overly aggressive in that sector. (Then again, they haven’t yet hired a general manager, so stay tuned.) Also: Like all stat-based projections, ZiPS tends to flatten toward the middle. Only the Dodgers are pegged to win more than 92 games, and only one team is projected to win fewer than 70. And that team is … 

The Royals, at 69-93. 

If you’re wondering why some among us still believe Dayton Moore will leave Kansas City, there’s your answer. The Royals, who made the 2014 World Series and won the 2015 edition, are about to turn terrible. Eric Hosmer, Lorenzo Cain, Alcides Escobar, and Mike Moustakas are free agents. It took Moore, who left the Braves in June 2006, 6 ½ years to lift KC above .500; it could take that long again if he stays. 

If he’s going to leave, now’s the time. And the Braves do have an opening. Still, you wonder: If Moore is all that great, why is the organization he has run for more than a decade poised to crash?

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About the Author

Mark Bradley is a sports columnist and blogger for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. He has been with the AJC since 1984.