Atlanta Braves: Power Ranking the Hitters Thus Far

Chris Stephens@@chris_stephens6Correspondent IIApril 20, 2012

Atlanta Braves: Power Ranking the Hitters Thus Far

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    The Atlanta Braves are hot.

    After starting the season 0-4, the Braves have won eight of their last nine games and have done it in convincing fashion.

    The horrible start had people calling for changes due to the team's lack of offense, scoring only 10 runs in its first four games.

    In their eight wins, the Braves have averaged a winning margin by 4.1 runs, scoring 33 runs in the process.

    Needless to say, the offense has recovered and is alive and well.

    With that said, I have ranked the Braves' offensive players on how well they've performed through Thursday, which was a 10-2 win over Arizona.

    Hope you enjoy.

13. Jack Wilson

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    Jack Wilson was brought back to be Tyler Pastornicky's backup at shortstop. So, the fact that he's struggling at the plate so far this year doesn't really matter to me.

    He's mostly needed to play good defense in late innings and start at shortstop on days Pastornicky needs a break.

    Thus far, he's gotten one hit in 12 at-bats, but he has three RBI.

    Like I said, all I really care about is his defense, since he's not going to be there as much as he was last year.

12. David Ross

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    David Ross is another one of those players that is not really needed for his offense.

    As a veteran catcher, he provides a good presence in the locker room, working with Brian McCann to help the younger pitchers.

    Ross has four hits in eight at-bats with three RBI, including two doubles.

    He's had success in his plate opportunities, but he just won't get the amount of at-bats he needs to be higher in the rankings.

11. Tyler Pastornicky

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    Tyler Pastornicky's struggles to start the year are to be expected for a rookie.

    But, as long as he continues to make progress, Braves fans will be patient with him.

    So far, he has six hits in 35 at-bats with one home run and four RBI.

    Although he has no steals to his credit, he does have a triple, which showed off his speed on a hit in the gap.

10. Eric Hinske

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    Eric Hinske has been a valuable player off the bench for the Braves. But he's not getting the at-bats he needs to be higher in the rankings.

    And when he has gotten the at-bats, he hasn't produced as expected. In his 11 at-bats, he has three hits with three RBI.

    With Matt Diaz in town, starts Hinske would've normally gotten in the outfield are going to Diaz instead.

9. Matt Diaz

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    Most Braves fans were happy when the team got Matt Diaz at the trading deadline last year.

    A fan favorite, Diaz brings consistency to the plate when he's in the game.

    So far this year, Diaz has five hits in 18 at-bats with one home run and four RBI.

    Although he won't get the amount of starts he did during his last stint in Atlanta, Diaz is still someone fans can have confidence in when he does step up to the plate.

8. Juan Francisco

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    Honestly, I didn't expect much from Juan Francisco when I saw him on the Opening Day roster.

    But the backup third baseman has surprised me thus far.

    Currently, he has seven hits in 24 at-bats, with two home runs and six RBI. However, he's striking out more than 25 percent of the time, so hopefully he fixes that over the next few months.

    Still, he's a pleasant surprise in a lineup that has been without Chipper Jones for a number of games so far.

7. Martin Prado

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    Martin Prado has struggled a little bit at the plate so far this year with 12 hits in 48 at-bats.

    Once thought to be a consistent hitter in the Braves lineup, Prado hasn't been the same since he went on the DL last year with a staph infection.

    Most likely, Prado will find himself traded during the season or this offseason, but while he is with the Braves, I'm hoping he improves a little more at the plate to what's needed of a No. 2 hitter.

6. Dan Uggla

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    Dan Uggla struggles at the beginning of the season; that's no secret.

    By the end of the season, he should be higher in the rankings.

    For now, he's here with 12 hits in 50 at-bats. He does have one home run and six RBI, and he leads the team with 10 runs scored.

    I can't wait to see him put up the power numbers we've been accustomed to seeing from him.

5. Michael Bourn

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    It's great to see Michael Bourn stealing bases, which is the reason why the Braves acquired him last year.

    Currently, Bourn has six stolen bases and has 15 hits in 53 at-bats. He's also scored eight runs, with two doubles and one triple.

    If Bourn can continue to get on base and steal bases, Braves fans will be happy with what he does.

4. Brian McCann

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    Brian McCann has been good so far this year with 12 hits in 41 at-bats.

    He also has two home runs and seven RBI, and even a stolen base.

    McCann is going to continue to be one of the top catchers in the game, and the fact that he's ranked fourth in the Braves lineup shows how well the rest of the lineup is hitting.

3. Chipper Jones

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    Now, I know Chipper Jones hasn't played in a lot of games this year, but when he has played, he's impressed.

    Currently, Jones has six hits in 20 at-bats, with two home runs and seven RBI.

    The fact that he's only played in six games doesn't say much, but once he's in the lineup permanently, the Braves are going to get even more production from him in his last season.

2. Freddie Freeman

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    Freddie Freeman is currently on a hot streak for the Braves.

    After Thursday, he has three home runs and 11 RBI with 12 hits on the season.

    Freeman struggled early on in the season, but we all knew that it was just a matter of time before he got it going.

    With the kinks worked out, Freeman should work toward numbers that are even better than he had last year.

1. Jason Heyward

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    Jason Heyward is playing the way Braves fans hoped he would play after a rough season last year.

    Currently, Heyward has 16 hits in 46 at-bats with two home runs and seven RBI. The number I'm impressed with so far is his five stolen bases.

    Those numbers give Braves fans hope for the rest of this year and into the future for Heyward.

    We're seeing the five tools he was drafted for, and he will only serve to benefit the Braves the rest of the way.