Breaking Down Atlanta Braves Player ZiPS Projections

PITTSBURGH, PA - JULY 05: Ronald Acuna Jr. #13 of the Atlanta Braves in action during the game against the Pittsburgh Pirates at PNC Park on July 5, 2021 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Justin Berl/Getty Images)
PITTSBURGH, PA - JULY 05: Ronald Acuna Jr. #13 of the Atlanta Braves in action during the game against the Pittsburgh Pirates at PNC Park on July 5, 2021 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Justin Berl/Getty Images) /

The annual ZiPS projections from FanGraphs are out, so we break down their projection for Atlanta Braves players heading into the 2022 season.

This is typically the time of year when a lot of projections for the upcoming baseball season are released. And it’s become an annual tradition for those projections to underestimate the Atlanta Braves.

However, that’s not the case here with FanGraphs’ ZiPS projections that are very favorable to a lot of Braves players.

In case you are unfamiliar with how the ZiPS projections work, that’s explained in detail here.

But essentially it’s a computer-generated system that is “estimating what the baseline expectation for a player is at the moment I hit the button, and then estimating where that player may be going using large cohorts of relatively similar players. … ZiPS uses multi-year statistics, with more recent seasons weighted more heavily…”

With that, let’s take a look at the numbers the computer spit out for several Braves players this year.

Ronald Acuna Jr. — 466 at-bats, 35 HR, 20 SB, .277/.382/.562, 4.8 WAR

It seems like ZiPS believes RAJ will be back to his pre-injury level once he returns being nearly a 5 WAR player in around 117 games.

Ozzie Albies — 40 2B, 26 HR, 19 SB, .278/.330/.488

The number that sticks out to me with Ozzie is the OBP. It’s been really bad the last two years and if he’s able to get it back up to .330 he’ll be in for a monster season.

Austin Riley — 31 HR, 96 RBI, 172 Ks, .271/.337/.495, 3.1 WAR

There will almost certainly be some regression for Riley and I think these projections are pretty indicative of the player he will be, which is still really good.

However, I do think he’ll be more of a 4 WAR player, especially if the defense continues to improve as it did in the second half of 2021.

Dansby Swanson — 30 2B, 24 HR, 10 SB, .250/.313/.442, 95 OPS+

I can understand why some of these numbers are so low for Dansby based on his history. But in a contract year, I feel like Swanson will step up his game and try to prove to the Braves that he’s the shortstop of the future.

Marcell Ozuna — 373 at-bats, 19 HR, .263/.333/.464

It’s surprising they project him to get so few at-bats. I’m assuming that him only playing 48 games in 2021 is a big factor in that, but from 2014-2019 he never had fewer than 494 at-bats in a season.

The DH should only help him stay in the lineup, and wherever he ends up playing in 2022 — I’m leaning towards the Braves — as long as he’s healthy, he’ll be in the lineup.

Max Fried — 3.24 ERA, 1.11 WHIP, 159 IP, 153 Ks, 3.33 FIP, 4 WAR

Pretty fair numbers for Fried; although, I’d love to see him eclipse 175 innings and get his K/9 over 9. Doing both of those and pitching as he has the last two seasons would almost certainly put him in the NL Cy Young discussion.

Charlie Morton — 3.44 ERA, 1.16 WHIP, 166.1 IP, 186 Ks, 131 ERA+, 3.8 WAR

A lot will depend on how healthy Charlie is to begin the season and how cautious the Braves are with him. I tend to think they’ll be extra cautious with him knowing they need him for the postseason more than April and May.

That’s why I’d tend to take the under on innings pitched and strikeouts.

Ian Anderson — 3.74 ERA, 1.27 WHIP, 141.1 IP, 149 Ks, 2.8 WAR

I talked about this when discussing these ZiPS projections on Locked on Braves, but I’m hoping this is the year Ian is able to prove he can throw 160-plus innings.

Last year he threw 145.1 innings between the regular and postseason, which was the most of his professional career.

A delayed Spring Training could mess him up from getting stretched out to make such a jump. But I sure would love to see him become more of a workhorse in the middle of the rotation.

There are some other very interesting projections for the Braves that I would encourage you to go check out at FanGraphs.

They’re very high on Huascar Ynoa and go as far as to say he projects to be one of the best fourth starters in the league.

Next. Braves' Impacted the Most by Delayed Spring Training. dark

What do you think of these projections? Too high? Too low? Let me know in the comments below as I’d love to discuss them further with you.