The Atlanta Braves find themselves in a similar situation at this point of the season as they did in 2011—a division race and relatively comfortable wild-card lead.
Unfortunately for the Braves, they ended last season with one of the most epic collapses in baseball history.
The worst case scenario for the Braves this season will be earning one of the two wild-card spots, and Freddie Freeman and Chipper Jones will be a big part of that.
The duo in the heart of the Braves' order have been two of the most consistent hitters on the team and have helped take the pressure off Jason Heyward, Brian McCann and Dan Uggla.
Despite having eye issues, Freeman has still posted a .270 batting average and has kept his average over .250 since June 22nd.
Meanwhile, Chipper has kept his batting average above .275 since May 4th and currently has a .313 average.
Neither of these two guys show signs of slowing down as September looms. It's fair to question whether or not Chipper will eventually start wearing down and go into a slump.
However, manager Fredi Gonzalez has done a nice job giving Chipper adequate days off to recover and prevent wear-and-tear on his body as much as possible.
These two hitters have great approaches in the box, which is why they are not prone to long slumps.
For example, both hitters do an extremely good job of utilizing the entire field. Both Chipper and Freeman have quick enough hands to turn on an inside fastball but also can drive the ball to the opposite field.
They also show great patience at the plate. Despite Freeman and Jones being fifth and seventh respectively in walks on the team, Chipper ranks second on the team with a walk every 7.7 at-bats while Freeman is fifth with a walk every 9.8 at-bats.
The two players complement each other very well with Freeman hitting fifth behind Chipper.
Many players in the National League still fear Chipper and will intentionally walk or pitch around the veteran to take their chances with Freeman.
However, Freeman has proved time and again that he can provide that clutch hit. He leads the team with 76 RBIs and is tied for the most two-out RBIs in the National League with 36.
That gives the Braves a potent tandem that makes life tough on their opponents. Managers have the difficult task of determining who to pitch to.
It also gives the Braves a consistent heart of the order, which is a major key to having a consistent and productive offense.
That is why as the 2012 season winds down, the Braves will not find themselves on the outside looking in.
Chipper and Freeman will not let the lineup falter and will lead the Braves into postseason play.
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