Braves with the Most to Prove over the Season's Final Months
The 2012 season is in its final months, and it's time for players to elevate their play for the postseason run.
It's also the time for players to help themselves individually.
Obviously the Braves roster will not look the same in 2013 as players will leave for free agency and through trades.
Therefore, now is the time for players to step their game up for both the organization and their careers.
Here's a look at some of the players on the Braves' roster who needs to make a statement over the last few months.
1. Dan Uggla
Braves fans are hoping and praying daily for Dan Uggla to break out of what seems like a season-long slump.
Uggla is hitting just .213 with 14 home runs and 131 strikeouts.
He needs to prove over the last month that he can get back to his Marlins form. If so, the Braves' lineup will be that much more potent.
Uggla has hit 30 or more home runs in the past five seasons but has a long ways to go to reach that number.
However, Uggla is showing signs of heating up, and the Braves would take any extra output from Uggla at this point.
He needs to prove to the organization that he can be a somewhat reliable hitter down the stretch for the Braves.
Otherwise, the Braves have options to put him on the bench during the postseason.
2. Michael Bourn
Like Uggla, Michael Bourn has been slumping over the last few weeks.
Bourn will be a free agent this offseason, so a big finish to the season will be a huge benefit for his career.
Bourn's batting average has consistently been over .300 all year until recently, as it's dropped to .292. He is one of the game's true lead-off hitters, so he'll be looking for a large paycheck after this season.
The Braves are stingy with offering large contracts to players, so Bourn will have to prove that he's worth it if he wants to remain with the team.
If not, Bourn still needs to show over the last couple months that he can perform during a postseason stretch to get the contract he'll be looking for.
3. Jonny Venters
Jonny Venters played a pivotal role in the Braves bullpen in 2011 but has regressed in 2012.
Eric O'Flaherty has taken over the set-up man role to closer Craig Kimbrel while Venters looks to regain his 2011 form.
Venters has pitched better since coming off the disabled list and seems to have better velocity and movement on his pitches. He needs to demonstrate to manager Fredi Gonzalez that he can be a reliable pitcher at the end of games.
The Braves' starting rotation does not feature a true ace, so the bullpen will have a prominent role in the success of the team.
Venters can carve out a niche on the team as a lefty specialist or possibly the seventh-inning man for the end of the year.
4. Paul Janish
Paul Janish has been everything the Braves needed him to be after the injury to Andrelton Simmons.
Janish specializes on defense and has provided the Braves with some timely hitting.
Coming from the Reds organization, Janish has gotten another chance to be an everyday player at the major league level.
Obviously the future of the Braves shortstop position is Simmons, but Janish can make himself some money by playing well down the stretch.
His level of play will affect whether or not the Braves try to keep him on as a back-up to Simmons.
The Braves also have Tyler Pastornicky, so there will likely only be one roster spot for a backup infielder.
Janish has a chance to earn that spot with a solid finish to the 2012 season, or he can earn a starting role for another team.
5. Kris Medlen
Personally, Kris Medlen has nothing left to prove. He's a major league starting pitcher and a very good one at that.
However, the Braves' rotation is full and guys that are attempting to pitch their way to a spot in that rotation.
Tommy Hanson is coming off the disabled list soon and will make the starting staff a six-man rotation.
Then, there are guys like Julio Teheran and Randall Delgado in the minors who are ready to be major league pitchers.
Medlen has shown his versatility this season by excelling out of both the bullpen and the rotation.
If he wants to remain a starter, these last few months will be key for him. The Braves will roll with the hot arms in September, so he has two weeks to establish himself as one of those pitchers.
Medlen can become a starter in the Braves staff for 2013 or possibly be involved in a trade to help another club out.
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