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BettorIQ’s MLB Betting Preview: Atlanta Braves

MLB

BettorIQ continues with its 2020 MLB betting previews. Over the course of the next few months, we will be breaking down all 30 teams from a betting perspective.

Atlanta Braves
2019 Record: 97-65
2019 Profits: +13.6 units
2020 Win Total: 90.5 (based on 162-game season)
2020 Odds to Win NL East: +155
2020 Odds to Win NL Pennant: +760
2020 Odds to Win World Series: +1530

Betting Positives: A three-year rebuilding process has paid dividends for this organization. Following a breakout 2018 season, in which the Braves won 90 games, Atlanta continued to build on that success last season, winning the NL East with an impressive 97-65 record. The foundations here are very strong. The team is built around stars Ronald Acuna Jr. and franchise mainstay Freddie Freeman. But, the strength here is depth, particularly after an effective offseason. The addition of slugger Marcell Ozuna stretches the lineup out even further, and the complement of contact, speed, and power, should help this offense improve. More importantly, the bullpen and rotation have both been strengthened. The headline move was the acquisition of veteran Cole Hamels, but adding Will Smith in the offseason, to go along with last season’s trade deadline moves that brought in Shane Greene and Chris Martin. A group of young players like Ozzie AlbiesDansby Swanson, and Austin Riley could continue to improve, and this would raise the ceiling for the Braves further still. The front office has signaled its intention to compete, and it is exceedingly unlikely that the team will be selling at the deadline. More likely, a healthy farm system and deep big-league club make further additions to strengthen possible. 

Betting Negatives: There are too many signs that regression is in play to not approach the Braves without caution. Atlanta’s Pythagorean Win-Loss last season was only 91-71, and its third-order win total was just 89.1. The Braves were third-best in the MLB with a 28-16 record in one-run games. That sort of success will be very hard to repeat. While the Braves certainly have a lot of young talent, these players are much more difficult to project and rely upon. Ace Mike Soroka is a clear case to take a step back. Soroka threw 174.1 IP as a 22-year-old, and posted a FIP of 3.45 and xFIP of 3.85. While the delay in the season’s start will help Atlanta deal with the fact that Cole Hamels is already struggling with a shoulder issue, it’s hard to count on the former ace to give the club a full complement of innings. Atlanta closed last season on a mediocre 8-11 run. 

Handicapper’s Take: Atlanta looks like it could take a bit of a step back but that appears to accounted for in the full season win total of 90.5. There’s real potential for offensive improvement and a stronger pitching staff. So while last season’s one-run game record is a concern, the Braves still possess plenty of “bet on” qualities. If anything, not having any big name starting pitchers should keep their moneyline prices reasonable. Compared to the Washington Nationals, who earned only +3 units during the 2019 regular season, Atlanta banked over +13 while being on average 10 cents cheaper.