Atlanta Braves 2024 Season Preview

After winning an MLB-best 104 games in 2023, the Atlanta Braves look to be one of the best teams in baseball again this season.

MIAMI, FLORIDA - OCTOBER 04: Ronald Acuna Jr. #13 of the Atlanta Braves looks on against the Miami Marlins at loanDepot park on October 04, 2022 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Megan Briggs/Getty Images)

After winning the 2021 World Series, the Atlanta Braves have won the second-most regular season games in MLB, built around a core that should have them in contention for years to come.

However, after 205 regular season wins over the past two years, followed by just two playoff wins in back-to-back NLDS loss to the Philadelphia Phillies, the 2024 Braves will be judged by their success in October.

Atlanta is primed to win the NL East once again, returning almost the entire offense that tied MLB’s record for home runs in a season (307) and led the big leagues in runs scored (947), batting average (.276), on-base percentage (.344), slugging percentage (.501), and wRC+ (125).

To top that off, the Braves should get a full season of Max Fried and brought in Chris Sale, Reynaldo Lopez, and Aaron Bummer to give their pitching staff a boost.

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While Alex Anthopoulos certainly had a busy offseason, any team built around MVP candidates Ronald Acuña Jr., Matt Olson and Austin Riley, and perhaps the best starter in baseball, Spencer Strider, will be among the favorites to bring home the Commissioner’s Trophy.

Projected Starting Lineup

Ronald Acuña Jr. – RFRonald Acuña Jr. – RF
Ozzie Albies – 2BOzzie Albies – 2B
Austin Riley – 3BAustin Riley – 3B
Matt Olson – 1BMatt Olson – 1B
Marcell Ozuna – DHMarcell Ozuna – DH
Michael Harris II – CFSean Murphy – C
Sean Murphy – CAdam Duvall – LF
Orlando Arcia – SSMichael Harris II – CF
Jarred Kelenic – LFOrlando Arcia – SS

Boasting one of the deepest groups of hitters in the majors, expect Atlanta’s offense to be its calling card once again in 2024.

After slugging 41 homers and stealing 73 bases on his way to a unanimous MVP award, Acuña looks primed to pick up right where he left off this season. As’s Mike Petriello wrote here, there’s a case to be made that the 26-year-old could be in line for an even better year in 2024.

Acuña’s surface-level stats actually lagged behind his expected ones in 2023. Not only did he lead MLB in barrels in 2023, but as Petriello shares, he led the league in barreled outs.

Realistically, most players’ MVP-winning seasons end up being the best of their careers, but for Acuña, it might be possible to see him improve, should things fall a little differently.

As for the rest of the Braves’ starting outfield, Michael Harris II is back in center field after a strong sophomore season. He posted a 134 wRC+ in the second half, overcoming a slow start.

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Harris even posted nearly neutral splits in 2023, after being overmatched in same-handed matchups during his rookie-of-the-year-winning campaign. That was a significant development for the 23-year-old, who should be a fixture in Atlanta’s lineup regardless of who is pitching.

The one spot that is going to look different for the Braves in 2024 is left field. They appear prepared to run a platoon of newly acquired and former top prospect Jarred Kelenic and now three-time Brave Adam Duvall.

While Kelenic spring struggles have been well documented — the 24-year-old owns a .135/.196/.173 slash line through 18 games — as he adjusts to a new swing, the former sixth-overall pick told’s Mark Bowman that he’s starting to feel more comfortable with the new organization.

As he showed during his hot start to 2023 with the Seattle Mariners before breaking his foot, Kelenic is the type of addition that could pay huge dividends in Atlanta. If they are able to unlock the tantalizing potential that has made him such an intriguing player, the Braves might have made another excellent trade.

Should Kelenic struggle, the Braves brought in some insurance with a late offseason move, signing Duvall to a one-year, $3 million deal. Duvall enjoyed a resurgence in 2023, posting a 116 wRC+, 21 homers and a .531 slugging percentage in 92 games with the Boston Red Sox.

Duvall has 52 defensive runs saved (DRS) and 22 outs above average (OAA) over 4535 career defensive innings in left. Despite posting just a 91 wRC+ against lefties in 2023, he has a career 100 mark in opposite-handed matchups. So, by bringing in the 35-year-old, Atlanta likely guaranteed itself a player who won’t actively hurt them, no matter how much he takes the field.

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The designated hitter spot will also be filled by a familiar face, as Marcell Ozuna is back and coming off his best full season with the Braves. The 33-year-old slugged 40 home runs and posted a 139 wRC+ while taking nearly 600 plate appearances in 144 games.

Moving over to the infield, all five Braves that made the NL All-Star in 2023, are back for 2024. Olson, Riley, Ozzie Albies, Orlando Arcia, and Sean Muphy form arguably the deepest group of infielders in MLB.

Of course, Olson and Riley need no introduction. Last season, the duo combined for 11.0 fWAR, 91 home runs, and 236 RBIs, each finishing in the top 10 in NL MVP voting.

Up the middle, Albies and Arcia is an intriguing double-play combo. Albies is a switching-hitting, 30-home run threat when healthy, but has his defensive limitations, and Arcia is a solid defender, but after his All-Star-worthy start last season, came back down to earth and finished with a 99 wRC+.

It’s crazy to think that an All-Star could be the weakest link in a team’s lineup, but that might just be the case in Atlanta. Perhaps the team will look for an upgrade by mid-season if Arcia struggles, but based on his spring training numbers — a .250/.318/.575 slash line with four home runs over 40 at-bats — he appears ready for another strong March and April.

Wrapping up the starting lineup with Murphy, the 29-year-old is projected to be the third-best catcher in baseball by ZiPS. Not only does he hit the cover off the ball and make good swing decisions, Murphy is also one of the top defensive backstops in MLB, ranking in the 84th percentile or better in blacking, framing, and throwing.

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Projected Bench

Travis d’Arnaud (C), Luis Guillorme (INF), Forrest Wall (OF), Jarred Kelenic/Adam Duvall (OF)

Travis d’Arnaud is much better than your average backup catcher, but his production took a step on both sides of the ball in 2023. Regardless, his average exit velocity, barrel rate, and hard-hit rate went up last season, suggesting that there still is a solid offensive catcher in there, and he can still provide decent defense.

The Braves’ stars notoriously didn’t take much time off last season, so it didn’t really matter who else was on the roster. Luis Guillorme is on the roster to fill in at multiple infield positions if needed, and could potentially serve as a late-game pinch hitter against righties.

On a different team, there’s a case to be made that Forrest Wall deserves a shot to prove what he can be at the MLB. But in Atlanta, he will serve as the backup center fielder and a lefty bat off the bench.

Whoever of Kelenic and Duvall is not starting will likely be the first bat manager Brian Snitker calls on if he needs a pinch-hitter.

Projected Starting Rotation

Projected Starting FiveRotation Depth
Spencer Strider – RHPBryce Elder – RHP
Max Fried – LHPAJ Smith-Shawver – RHP
Charlie Morton – RHPDylan Dodd – LHP
Chris Sale – LHPHuascor Ynoa – RHP
Reynaldo Lopez – RHPIan Anderson – RHP

Strider and Fried could combine to be one of MLB’s best 1-2 punches if healthy.

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Fried hit the injured list three times in 2023, but when he was on the field, delivered a 2.55 ERA, 3.14 FIP, and 25.7% strikeout percentage over 77.2 innings.

Combine that with the fourth-place Cy Young finishing season that Strider just put up, and you have the makings of the top-of-the-postseason rotation.

Strider struck out a league-best 281 hitters and posted a sub-3.00 FIP, xFIP, and SIERA, suggesting that he should have ended up with a better ERA than the 3.86 mark he did.

Charlie Morton, who is also returning for his 17th big-league season at age 40 slots in nicely as the Braves’ No. 3 starter. The curveball-heavy Morton has thrown over 160 innings in five straight seasons — excluding 2020 — and has been as consistent as they come in the majors over that time.

It’s tough to say when Father Time will come for Morton, but there isn’t really anything in the righty’s profile that suggests he is about to fall off the cliff this season.

Atlanta obviously prioritized finding some stability for its rotation in 2024 after using 16 different starters in 2023 (including openers). Out of those 16, the Braves traded away Kyle Wright, Michael Soroka, and Jared Shuster while letting Yonny Chirinos, Kolby Allard, and Jesse Chavez walk in free agency.

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They then went out and dealt Vaughn Grissom for Sale and gave Lopez a three-year, $30 million deal to shore up their starting five.

The Sale trade, specifically, is looking like an early win in Atlanta. The veteran southpaw has looked every bit the part this spring of the pitcher the Braves hoped they were acquiring and extending. Over four Grapefruit League starts, Sale has struck out 17, walked just four and allowed no home runs in 11.2 innings.

It’s unlikely the 35-year-old will ever return to the heights that saw him dominate as one of the best pitchers of the 2010s, but if he can provide a healthy dose of quality innings for the Braves, it will go a long way toward helping the club claim a seventh-straight NL East crown.

As for Lopez, our Nate Miller dove into how the 30-year-old can make the switch back to the rotation after his last start of more than two innings came on September 28, 2021.

If he isn’t able to survive as a No. 5 starter, Lopez will be still able to contribute to the Braves as a high-leverage bullpen arm.

Now, betting on health from all four of Strider, Fried, Morton, and Sale, and for Lopez to convert seamlessly to starting seems like a fool’s errand.

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Atlanta seems prepared for the scenario where it might have to turn to some of the younger arms in the organizations as Bryce Elder, AJ Smith-Shawver, and Dylan Dodd all will provide depth out of the high minors, and the likes of Ian Anderson, Hurston Waldrep, Huascar Ynoa, and Darius Vines all could come into the picture if needed.

Projected Bullpen

Projected BullpenDepth Arms
Raisel Iglesias – RHP*Penn Murfee – RHP
A.J. Minter – LHP*Angel Perdomo – LHP
Joe Jiménez – RHPDaysbel Hernández – RHP
Pierce Johnson – RHPRay Kerr – LHP
Tyler Matzek – LHPKen Giles – RHP (NRI)
Aaron Bummer – LHPParker Dunshee – RHP
Dylan Lee – LHPBen Bowden – LHP (NRI)
Jackson Stephens – RHP

After Braves relievers finished last season ranked 11th in MLB in ERA, seventh in FIP, second in K-BB%, and third in SIERA, Atlanta’s bullpen looks loaded once again in 2024.

FanGraphs has the group projected as the second-best in MLB, with Raisel Iglesias, Joe Jiménez, A.J. Minter, Pierce Johnson, and Aaron Bummer leading the way as the ‘pen’s most valuable contributors.

Jackson Stephens should be Atlanta’s long-man. The 29-year-old has been solid since joining the Braves in 2022, posting a 3.56 ERA and 3.58 FIP over 65.2 major-league innings.

While Atlanta’s bullpen is a little left-handed heavy, the four of Minter, Bummer, Tyler Matzek, and Dylan Lee should be able to survive well enough against righties to ensure that the team doesn’t suffer against right-handed hitters late in games if Jiménez or Johnson are unavailable.

Retaining those two righties was a key part of Atlanta’s offseason, as their re-signings essentially locked down a core of six relievers that the Braves can supplement with trades or other depth options if necessary.

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Two of those extra arms that could be intriguing additions at some point this season are Penn Murfee and Ken Giles.

Murfee, who posted a 27.6% strikeout rate and 1.29 ERA with the Mariners in 14 innings last season, is currently recovering from Tommy John surgery and could return in the latter half of 2024. He owns a career 2.70 ERA and 92 strikeouts in 83.1 innings, but struggled with control before being shut down in 2023.

Meanwhile, Giles is attempting a major-league comeback, earning a non-roster invite after last pitching in the majors in 2022, with his last season of more than five innings coming in a standout 2019 with the Toronto Blue Jays.

Top Prospects Who Could Help in 2024

AJ Smith-Shawver and Hurston Waldrep

There isn’t a ton of depth in the Braves’ system pushing for time at the major-league level, but Smith-Shawver and Waldrep could prove to make an impact in Atlanta this season.

Just Baseball’s No. 45 prospect, Smith-Shawver flew through the minors in 2023, making his way to the Braves for his first 25.1 career MLB innings.

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Our Aram Leighton points to the 21-year-old’s arsenal and athleticism as defining factors in his potential.

“With a quality four pitch mix and exciting athleticism on the mound, Smith-Shawver offers plenty of upside. He will need to fill up the zone more, especially with his secondaries, to reach his middle rotation upside.”

– Aram Leighton, Just Baseball’s Final 2023 Top 100 Prospects Update

While the results haven’t been great, Smith-Shawver’s process has given Braves fans something to be excited about this spring, appearing to add a tick or two to his fastball and some extra horizontal movement on his slider.

Here is his player breakdown page from his last spring start, courtesy of Baseball Savant:

Waldrep could make a similar rise through the minors in 2023. After going 24th overall out of Florida in the 2023 draft, the 22-year-old dominated his way to Triple-A, throwing 29.1 innings with 41 strikeouts and a 1.53 ERA across four levels.

Featuring three potential above-average pitches — his fastball, slider, and splitter — Waldrep’s command will likely be the main area he needs to improve in before earning a shot with the Braves.