Atlanta Braves Predictions
The Atlanta Braves have endured plenty of postseason frustration throughout the years. They are just 9-20 in playoff games since sweeping the NLDS back in 2001. They had won 11 straight division titles from 1995 to 2005 before falling back to mediocrity since. However, the Braves have been able to post a winning record in five of their last seven seasons while making the playoffs in both 2010 and ’12. They added brothers Justin and B.J. Upton this offseason to add a ton of pop to the lineup. The rotation features a solid young nucleus to go along with veteran Tim Hudson. Let’s take a look at what to expect from Atlanta in 2013.
Andrelton Simmons (SS) – Great arm at short and showed he could hit last year too. Simmons hit .289 with three homers in 49 games as a rookie in 2012.
Jason Heyward (RF) – Hit a career-high 27 homers to go along with 21 steals, making Heyward the first Brave to go 20/20 since Andruw Jones in 2000.
Justin Upton (LF) – Hit .280 with 17 homers and 67 RBIs last year after hitting .289 with 31 homers and 88 RBIs in 2011. Atlanta my have gotten Justin Upton at a discount as they dealt Martin Prado to Arizona for him.
B.J. Upton (CF) – Hit a career-high 28 homers to go along with 31 steals last year in Tampa. He provides a ton of power and speed, but B.J. Upton also struck out more than 160 times for a third straight season.
Brian McCann (C) – Hit a career-low .230 in 2012 thanks to an injury-plagued season. Hit 121 games player were his fewest since 2005. He may be finally wearing down after being a workhorse in Atlanta behind the plate his entire career.
Freddie Freeman (1B) – Led the Braves in RBIs (94) while finishing second in home runs (23) in 2012. Hit averaged dropped from .282 in 2011 to .259 last year, which is a concern.
Dan Uggla (2B) – Had his streak of five straight 30-plus homer seasons come to an end last year. Uggla hit a career-low .220 with only 19 homers in 2012 and will likely be moved down in the order because of it.
Juan Francisco (3B) – Hit nine homers in only 192 at-bats last year. Added nine more dingers in the Dominican League, and his power potential clearly has given him a chance to play every day at the hot corner in Atlanta.
Kris Medlen (RHP) – The NL pitcher of the month for August and September went 9-0 with a minuscule 0.97 ERA over 12 starts after moving into the rotation last year.
Tim Hudson (RHP) – The veteran posted a solid 3.62 ERA despite coming off spine surgery and pitching through bone spurs in his ankle in 2012.
Paul Maholm (LHP) – After getting traded to Atlanta from Chicago mid-season, Maholm went 4-5 with a 3.54 ERA in 11 starts with the Braves in the second half last year.
Mike Minor (LHP) – Really improved as the season progressed last year. Minor went 7-4 with a 2.21 ERA over his final 15 starts of 2012.
Julio Teheran (RHP) – Will likely battle Randall Delgado (4-9, 4.37 ERA) for the fifth spot in the rotation. Teheran posted a 5.68 ERA while getting just 6.1 innings of work last year.
Craig Kimbrel (RHP) – The best closer in baseball, Kimbrel converted 42 of 45 saves while posting a 1.01 ERA with 116 strikeouts in 62 2/3 innings last year. Setting him up will be the steady duo of Jonny Venters (5-4, 3.22 ERA) and Eric O’Flaherty (3-0, 1.73 ERA).
2nd Place NL East & OVER 86 Wins – The Braves have certainly tried to pull out all the stops this offseason to try and compete in for a division title in the tough NL East. I love the additions of the Upton brothers, giving Atlanta one of the most potent lineups in baseball. I am a little concerned about the rotation aside from Medlen. Hudson is a year older, while Maholm, Minor and Teheren/Delgado all have question marks surrounding them. The bullpen is the best in the league, hands down. I look for Atlanta to challenge Washington for the division title, but to fall short while having to settle for a wild-card berth in 2013.
|2013 Atlanta Braves Odds to Win
|Total Regular Season Wins||O86 (-115)|