• Zachery Bernabe

Atlanta Braves 2017 Season Preview

The Atlanta Braves had a horrible season last year, finishing with 68 wins and 93 losses. The Braves got off to a terrible start that led to the manager, Fredi Gonzalez, being fired and being replaced by, but they finished the year strong. According to fangraphs.com, the Braves are projected to finish a little better for the upcoming 2017 season, at 73-89.

Spring Training for the Braves begins this Saturday, February 25, 2017, against the Toronto Blue Jays. The first official regular season game will be against the New York Mets on April 3, 2017.

The first official home game at the Braves new Suntrust Stadium in Cobb County will be against the San Diego Padres on Friday, April, 14, 2017. However, the first actual game will be an exhibition game against the New York Yankees on March 31.

This year, there will be three new veteran pitchers, including Bartolo Colon, 43, and R.A. Dickey, 42, who have a combined 33 years of professional experience. Jaime Garcia, 30, will also join the rotation, which will again be headlined by Julio Teheran, as well as Mike Foltynewicz, who improved in his second season last year.

Another player to definitely keep an eye on will be shortstop Dansby Swanson, who will be in his second year. According to Bleacher Report, Swanson, who was picked 1st overall in the 2015 draft and traded to the Braves a year later by the Arizona Diamondbacks, is "the beating heart of Atlanta's rebuild" and has been compared by some to the future Hall of Famer, Yankees shortstop, Derek Jeter.

Braves veteran first baseman Freddie Freeman had the best year of his career last season. Some have wondered if he can repeat that success this season, but ESPN's writer, David Schoenfield believes he can: "I think he hits 30-plus home runs again." The writer points out that Suntrust Park is a smaller field, and Freeman may hit a few more there.

One of the areas that will probably still be a weakness is at third base. The Braves really haven't had a reliable third baseman since Chipper Jones retired, but Adonis Garcia was decent last year, hitting 14 home runs. Prospect Rio Ruiz may end up splitting time with Garcia if he makes the big club out of Spring Training.