Visit Our Newest Feature - The Teams Page
Find about all about your favorite team including Stats Leaders, Awards, Playoff Teams, and More . . .

2006 Preview: Atlanta Braves

by Scott Glab, Baseball Evolution
March 31, 2006

2006 Team Preview: Kansas City Royals


2005 Record: 90-72 (1st Place)

2005 Runs Scored: 769

2005 Runs Allowed: 674

Expected 2005 Record: 91-71

The Atlanta Braves have had arguably the most remarkable regular-season run of success in the history of major league baseball. Despite every team in their division finishing .500 or better last year, they still found a way to win with an incredibly young outfield and clutch pitching. But with uber-pitching coach Leo Mazzone defected to Baltimore, will the pitching falter? Will their young positional players continue to produce? Will the bullpen be a train wreck?





2005 Starters: Johnny Estrada, Brian McCann


Projected 2006 Starter: Brian McCann


Estrada followed a pattern that the Braves developed with Michael Tucker. Find a guy, showcase him for the most productive part of his career, then ship him off for other needs when his buzz is high. They may have waited a little too long with Estrada, but McCann stepped in and posted a .345 OBP while handling a pitching staff down the stretch in a divisional battle. Did I mention he is only 21? Todd Pratt will back him up and start every 4th or 5th day.



First Base


2005 Starters: Adam LaRoche, Julio Franco


Projected 2006 Starter: Adam LaRoche


Adam LaRoche has been slumping all spring. If that continues on into the regular season, ancient Brian Jordan or young and hungry James Jurries will take some playing time away from him. I imagine that if the problem is serious, the Braves will move to acquire one of the many fine hitting twentysomething first basemen that populate AAA.


Second Base


2005 Starter: Marcus Giles


Projected 2006 Starter: Marcus Giles


Giles is a little big-man who has good line drive power, can run, field, and hit for average. He does everything well, nothing spectacularly. He started off last season slow but finished strong. He is entering his prime and could be the top overall second baseman in the NL this year.


Third Base


2005 Starter: Chipper Jones


Projected 2006 Starter: Chipper Jones


The face of the franchise, as American as apple pie, Chipper isn’t one of the top hitters in the league anymore. But he has returned to form as a fine hitter over the last few seasons. Chipper credits third base as making him feel more involved than he did playing left field. Whatever the reason, he certainly plays better in every facet of the game when he mans the hot corner.





2005 Starter: Rafael Furcal


Projected 2006 Starter: Edgar Renteria


We here at Baseball Evolution were the first to tell you that Edgar Renteria was incredibly overrated as a hitter following his stellar 2003 campaign, and remained so even after his 2004 precipitous decline. His huge contract with the Red Sox looks ridiculous given what a poor hitter and fielder he was in 2005 (although I never heard a Boston fan once admit how bad he was last year). Having said that, Renteria likely has some middling-to-good years left in him.





2005 Starters: Andruw Jones, Jeff Francoeur, Ryan Langerhans, Kelly Johnson, Brian Jordan


Projected 2006 Starters: Andruw Jones, Jeff Francoeur, Ryan Langerhans, Kelly Johnson


Jeff Francoeur has an amazing half season at age 21 at the plate…although his lacks of ability to take a walk indicates a likely decline this year. But even in that short time, he was easily the most valuable fielder at RF in 2005. Andruw Jones is still young and had a breakout season last year. The left field platoon is young too, and expect Cox to juggle it well during the regular season, poorly should the Braves reach the playoffs.




2005 Front Three Starters: John Smoltz, Tim Hudson, Horacio Ramirez


Projected 2006 Front Starters: John Smoltz, Tim Hudson, Horacio Ramirez


Smoltz and Hudson combined for over 420 IP last year and an ERA in the low threes. You really can’t ask for more form your top two men. Ramirez, however, will likely have a big say in how well Atlanta does in 2006. He was clearly the #3 starter once John Thompson went down to injury, but his 4.63 ERA left something to be desired. Despite some success in the previous two seasons, his peripheral stats aren’t impressive, and with Mazzone gone, I expect this 26 year old won’t improve much or at all this year.



Other 2005 Starters: Jorge Sosa, Kyle Davies, John Thompson, Mike Hampton


Other Possible 2006 Starters: Jorge Sosa, Kyle Davies, John Thompson


Sosa had a breakthrough half season in 2005, and his ability to continue anywhere near that level would go a long way to help the Braves secure the East again this season. Davies is unremarkable, and Thompson was brilliant a few years ago but now seems to be made of glass. Mike Hampton, the poster-child for bad contracts, is out for the entire season with an elbow injury.



2005 Top Relievers: Kyle Farnsworth, Chris Reitsma, Danny Kolb, Blaine Boyer


Projected 2006 Top Relievers: Chris Reitsma, Joey Devine, Blaine Boyer, Lance Cormier


Dan Kolb was—with no surprise to us—a disaster last year. Chris Reitsma was effective, but not at closing, so the Braves nabbed Farnsworth at the trading deadline, who was lights out until single-handedly giving the decisive NLDS game to the Astros. Well, now he’s gone and Reitsma is back in the closer’s role, for now. Who knows what tricks and delights wait for us in the Braves’ pen this season?


Final Word:

This is the very model of a well run franchise. While you can justifiably argue that Bobby Cox makes poor in-game decisions (especially in the playoffs), there is no better manager in the league at getting production out of whatever motley crew he can work with over a 162-game season. The departure of pitching guru Leo Mazzone makes me take pause, the lineup of the Mets makes me break out in hives, but one would be a fool to count out the Braves this year. They should be slight favorites to win the NL East. AGAIN.

Become A Sponsor of
Sponsor a page at On a page of your choice, you can place a personalized message, a tribute to a player, or a link to your website!

Disagree with something? Got something to add? Wanna bring up something totally new? Scott Glab resides in Chicago, Illinois, and can be reached at
Baseball Evolution Features

The Teams Page
Find about all about your favorite team.

Yes, we have them. Check out these other fantastic sites.

Hall of Fame
See who's in, who's out, and where we differ from Cooperstown

All kinds of split statistics and what they mean.

Your source for stats, conventional and otherwise.

Award Room
All of your award info and analysis right here.

News and Notes
Interesting odds and ends from around the league.

Top 100s
See where we rank'em.

Test your baseball knowledge.

As the season rolls along, check to see how accurate our 2005 predictions were.

See who's making a lot of money to embarrass themselves writing about baseball.

Heated Debates
We don't always agree with each other.

Scorer's Corner
Keith shares scoring oddities that he has encountered.

Player Nicknames
How we refer to certain players when we're discussing them.

Ballpark Food
What various ballparks around the league should be serving up to the fans.

Scouting Reports
In-depth analysis of high-level prospects.

The Name Game
Put your skills to the test.