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Why 2012 Is Atlanta Braves' Best Chance for a Playoff Run

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Why 2012 Is Atlanta Braves' Best Chance for a Playoff Run
Greg Fiume/Getty Images

I've written extensively on the misfortunes that have befallen the 2012 Braves.  Injuries to Brandon Beachy and Andrelton Simmons, poor seasons from Brian McCann and Dan Uggla, and regression from Tommy Hanson have contributed to putting a dent into the Braves win total.

And yet, the Braves sit just three games back of the Washington Nationals with over a month and a half to go.

Actually, I like this Braves team a lot.  I think it's the best collection of talent the Braves have assembled since the 2005 version that featured vintage Andruw Jones, Chipper Jones, Rafael Furcal, and Marcus Giles putting runs on the board for a pitching staff led by John Smoltz, Tim Hudson, and a devastating back end of the rotation that featured (I dare you not to laugh) Jorge Sosa and Horacio Ramirez.

I'm not even kidding (mostly).  Sosa posted a 2.55 ERA and Ramirez, the team's fourth best pitcher, tossed nearly 203 innings.

But this team is better.  Playing behind a true five-man rotation is perhaps the best outfield in the national league, featuring two of the most dynamic talents in all of baseball (Heyward and Bourn) and the game's most underrated player (Prado), a shortstop that turns everything hit at him into an out, a first baseman that has stepped into his own offensively, and a Hall of Fame third baseman that is turning back the clock (when healthy).  

I'll even go so far as to announce that 2012 is Atlanta's best chance at a playoff run since those 2005 Braves, and it will be their best chance at a playoff run for a few more years.  Here's why. 

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