Which Atlanta Braves player will underperform expectations in 2024?

MLB players always expect to perform up to their expectations but sometimes things don't go as planned. The Braves aren't immune from that either.

Division Series - Atlanta Braves v Philadelphia Phillies - Game Four
Division Series - Atlanta Braves v Philadelphia Phillies - Game Four / Kevin D. Liles/Atlanta Braves/GettyImages

The House That Hank Built crew is back with another discussion on the upcoming Atlanta Braves season. Today, we discuss who could potentially underperform on the team in 2024.

The participants once again are Chase Owens, Eric Cole, Fred Owens, Gaurav Vedak, Mitchell Barbee, Sage Broda, Shayne Nissen, Steven Teal, and myself Trent Dickeson.

We hope every Braves player puts up MVP & CY Young numbers in 2024. However, we do know that an unfortunate side of the game is players having disappointing seasons. Whether that is due to age showing up, regression, or just a down season, who do we think could disappoint in 2024?

Who will underperform for the Braves this season?

Chase: This is something none of us ever want to predict, but there are a few candidates. The first is Marcell Ozuna, who went from possibly being DFA’d to a 40-homer season in the blink of an eye. While I don’t think Ozuna looks as bad as he did in 2022, and early 2023, I do think his play will warrant giving other guys a day in the DH role now and then. Fangraphs ZiPS projects him at 106 wRC+ as well, so I seem to be thinking along the same lines.

Eric: I think Travis d’Arnaud is going to struggle, but that may be the expectation for him at this stage in his career. I’m going to say, Raisel Iglesias. It felt like he wasn’t pitching all that well last year even though things tended to work out and betting on a reliever to just stay dominant doesn’t work out well a lot of the time. He’ll be fine, but I don’t see a dominant season at the back end of the bullpen coming from him.

Mitchell: I’m not convinced Tyler Matzek will be on the club by the end of July. The Braves are stacked with lefties, and if his return from Tommy John looks more like 2022 than it did when he went god-mode in 2021, which I think is more probable than not, the Braves could cut him without much loss to open up more flexibility in the bullpen.

Sage: I am still worried about Chris Sale from an injury standpoint. I think as a personality he was one of the best acquisitions the Braves could have made for bringing an edge to a young team. That said, the 34-year-old pitcher has battled Tommy John, hand, and wrist issues over the last few years. Having a full offseason to prepare will be new for him, and may help his long-term health. Yet, constantly rehabbing can affect his delivery. I expect him to perform similarly to his 2023 campaign. While it may not be the expectations coming in healthy, an upper 3’s low 4’s ERA in the backend will give the Braves plenty of opportunities to win.

Gaurav: What really helps Ozuna here is that he’s pretty much a pure DH so he won’t have to put forth a lot on the defensive side of things but if we are comparing it to last season I think he has the best chance to underperform - but again that’s in relation to last year. The Braves gave up a decent package for Aaron Bummer, including some starting pitching depth, so if his walk rates remain as high as they have been there is a risk of underperforming as well. 

Steven: I have to agree with Eric’s assessment of Raisel Iglesias. He was good for the most part but his outings always felt like they were teetering on the edge of disaster a little more often than you’d like. He unfortunately feels like a prime candidate to underperform the expectations many have for him. 

Fred:  Bryce Elder and Orlando Arcia. Arcia has never posted back-to-back seasons of 400 PA with numbers like last year’s. Teams pitched to him because Harris was behind him, but I expect Harris to hit farther up the lineup and Arcia to revert to his barely league-average bat. It won’t matter as long as he continues to play great defense but he’s had seasons where he carried his slump to the field instead of leaving it in the dugout. Elder must locate his pitches well because aside from his slider, his stuff has been good. I expect him to lose his rotation spot - well DoB says Lopez already has it -and AJSS to pass him.

Shayne: Marcell Ozuna is the obvious low-hanging fruit here. When he got off to the start that he did last year, Braves fans were ready to throw him to the wolves, but he won back Braves Country by year’s end. Hitting 40 home runs will do that for you. But I think he’ll be okay again this year. My prediction is going to be Jarred Kelenic and I pray to all things good and hope that I’m wrong. He’s got the talent and something has clearly not worked in Seattle, a team that has contended the last two years and has had the pieces for him to be successful. But sometimes having the talent just isn’t enough and I think he’ll be out of the regular lineup by season’s end. Again, I’d love to be wrong here, but I don’t think he’s the answer in left field.

Trent: I think all of the candidates that fit the question being asked have been named. Orlando Arcia had the best year of his career last year and I am not sure if I see him replicating it exactly. He benefited from being in one of the best offensive lineups of all time. Meaning teams had to pitch to him as Fred mentioned above. Thankfully, Arcia is not expected to be one of the main contributors due to his contract, so as long as he plays reliable defense at shortstop, then his offense can take a small step back.

Ozuna also makes sense for this question due to his lengthy struggles that expanded two seasons before he figured it out in 2023 and put up a monster year. As a DH, he has a smaller margin of error because he has to hit to contribute. Finally, I think Bryce Elder pitched well above his head to start 2023 and the regression was obvious. If anyone is expecting him to replicate the first half of the year again, I think we will be disappointed.

Hopefully, nobody disappoints us in a Braves uniform

A few names popped up here. Marcell Ozuna, Bryce Elder, and Orlando Arcia appear to be the popular candidates. Raisel Iglesias, Jarred Kelenic, Chris Sale, Tyler Matzek, and Aaron Bummer also make appearances here though.

There are scenarios where they are disappointing this season. As Braves fans though, we are hoping we are wrong about who we think is most likely to disappoint in 2024!

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