3 Bold Predictions For The 2015 Atlanta Braves

The Atlanta Braves had a disappointing season in 2015 by the franchise and fan base's lofty standards, finishing 79-83 -- 17 games behind the NL East champion Washington Nationals. Atlanta President of Baseball Operations John Hart decided to embark on a full-scale rebuilding effort in the offseason in response, dealing away lineup fixtures Justin Upton, Jason Heyward, and Evan Gattis.

What will that all mean for 2015? Find out as we give you our 3 Bold Predictions For The 2015 Atlanta Braves.

3. The team's starting rotation will be much better than critics think

The projected front four of Julio Teheran, Shelby Miller, Alex Wood, and Mike Minor has major upside potential, especially if Mike Minor finds his groove again and Wood's off-kilter delivery remains troubling for NL hitters. There's enough here to prop up the offense a fair amount and to keep the Braves within striking distance in more than a handful of games.

2. Andrelton Simmons will become a quiet star, both at the plate and in the field

The Braves' dynamic shortstop had a rash of bad luck at the plate in 2014, hitting .244 despite having the contact rate of a hitter closer to .260 or .270. We say Lady Luck smiles on Simmons and he improves his slash line significantly, adding enough offense to go along with his "new Ozzie Smith" glove work to begin his ascent as one of the position (and the game's) true stars.

1. It'll get worse before it gets better

The rotation will be decent enough, but taking three of the four best hitters away from an offense that finished next-to-last in the NL last season in runs scored isn't going to help matters -- especially with very little by way of pop coming back to Atlanta in return. The Braves will be feisty and there are some young players to watch, but this franchise is obviously less concerned about winning now and more concerned about building a foundation for a winning club when their new ballpark opens in 2017.

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