After winning the NL Central with a 97-65 record in 2019, you'd expect the Atlanta Braves to be getting a ton of hype heading into the 2020 season. The New York Mets have been a popular dark horse pick in the division, though, and it seems like the Braves are getting slept on.
With that in mind, here are the three most underrated Braves players heading into the 2020 MLB season.
1. Ozzie Albies
Ozzie Albies can get lost a bit at the top of the Braves' order, with Ronald Acuna and Freddie Freeman drawing most of the attention. Albies is still just 23 years old, however, and has already made great strides in his three major league seasons. In 2019 he made the best contact of his career, with a 42.3 percent hard-hit rate, while cutting his strikeout rate down to 16.0 percent (from 17.0 percent in 2018). Accordingly, his weighted on-base average (wOBA) and isolated power (ISO) reached career-high marks, at .354 and .205, respectively. He's also a plus defender, finishing tied for third on the team in FanGraphs' defensive runs above average (DEF) metric in 2019.
2. Max Fried
It's no secret that Max Fried has a ton of potential, but a lot of people still seem to be overlooking just how good he already is. He made 30 starts in 2019, and while his 4.02 ERA wasn't anything special, he paired that with a terrific 3.83 skill-interactive ERA (SIERA), which was tied for 15th among all qualifying pitchers. We've seen his average fastball velocity climb in each of his three seasons, hitting 93.8 miles per hour in 2019, and that added velocity didn't cost him any control, as his walk rate dropped to just 6.7 percent. Fried is already a stud pitcher, and he's only just getting started.
3. Luke Jackson
Only five pitchers in the MLB went at least 70 innings and forced swinging-strikes on a higher percentage of their pitches than Luke Jackson, at 16.7 percent. He ramped up his average fastball velocity to a fiery 96.1 miles per hour, and he struck out a career best 33.7 percent of the batters he faced while dropping his walk rate to 8.3 percent. He suffered from some bad luck, with a .386 batting average on balls in play (BABIP), but his 3.24 fielding-independent pitching (FIP) mark showcases just how deadly he was. There's plenty of competition for the Braves' closer role, but Jackson is quickly proving himself to be an outstanding option out of the bullpen.
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Jason Schandl is not a FanDuel employee. In addition to providing DFS gameplay advice, Jason Schandl also participates in DFS contests on FanDuel using his personal account, username Jaymun. While the strategies and player selections recommended in his articles are his personal views, he may deploy different strategies and player selections when entering contests with his personal account. The views expressed in their articles are the author's alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of FanDuel.