Atlanta Braves: Ranking Each Braves' Position Player Right Now

Chris Stephens@@chris_stephens6Correspondent IISeptember 17, 2012

Atlanta Braves: Ranking Each Braves' Position Player Right Now

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    The Atlanta Braves are fresh off a sweep of the Washington Nationals and are primed to make a postseason run.

    Led by players like Jason Heyward and Freddie Freeman, the Braves are showing the National League East race is far from over.

    Both at the plate and in the field, Braves' position players are getting it done—for the most part.

    Here's a look at how the Braves' position players are ranked as of right now.

11. David Ross

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    Over the last few years, we've seen Brian McCann have his share of injuries and necessary time off.

    Stepping in has been David Ross.

    Batting .255 with seven home runs and 19 RBI, Ross has been a capable backup to McCann.

    He makes the biggest difference behind the plate, helping to provide veteran leadership to mostly a young staff.

    In the last 17 games Ross has started behind the plate, the Braves are 13-4.

10. Andrellton Simmons

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    Andrelton Simmons is just now coming back from the disabled list, so there's a lot to learn about him.

    Simmons is batting .295 with three home runs and 17 RBI.

    His defensive play is the whole reason the Braves called him up to the big leagues, since Tyler Pastornicky wasn't getting it done.

    Down the stretch, Simmons' defensive range will play a key factor as it will be a reminder of what it was like having Alex Gonzalez playing short.

9. Juan Francisco

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    The Braves got a steal from the Reds when they acquired Juan Francisco prior to the start of the season.

    Batting .240 with nine home runs and 30 RBI, Francisco still has some work to do at the plate, but could easily take over at third base next year.

    I believe if he was given more consistent at-bats, his average would go up.

    Defensively, he's no Chipper Jones. Then again, who is?

8. Reed Johnson

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    Reed Johnson has been a nice addition to the Braves since he was acquired from the Cubs.

    Since joining Atlanta, Johnson is batting .293 and is routinely found in the No. 2 hole in the order.

    When he's not in the starting lineup, Johnson is the first option for Freddi Gonzalez to come off the bench as a pinch-hitter or defensive replacement.

    His ability to play both corner outfield positions makes his a valuable asset to the Braves.

7. Dan Uggla

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    It was easier to deal with Dan Uggla's poor average last year because his power numbers were there.

    This year, the average is still the same, but the power numbers have dropped.

    Currently, Uggla is hitting .214 with 18 home runs and 68 RBI.

    At one point this season, Freddi Gonzalez benched Uggla due to his struggles.

    In his last 10 games, however, Uggla has shown improvement, going 11 for 33 with one home run and four RBI.

    As long as he can stop swinging for the fences, Uggla should be fine. Should he continue to do so, however, he might not be with Atlanta much longer.

6. Brian McCann

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    Brian McCann is another one of those guys who has struggled at the plate this season.

    Hitting a career-low .230, McCann is still keeping his power numbers up with 20 home runs and 64 RBI.

    McCann provides a lot to the Braves behind the plate as well. One of the best game-callers in MLB, McCann manages a pitching staff with only one real veteran in the rotation.

    It was reported by writer Mark Bowman that McCann had been playing through shoulder pain this year.

    While fans do appreciate that, it's also important for McCann to take care of himself down the stretch. Ross is more than capable of catching for a game when he needs a day off.

5. Michael Bourn

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    Michael Bourn moves down on the list a little, mainly because his batting average has dropped over the last six weeks to .276.

    However, Bourn is still a threat from the leadoff spot and the Braves are better for it.

    Currently, Bourn has 39 steals to go along with nine home runs and 56 RBI, with the last two being career highs.

    Bourn provides speed everywhere he's at, making it important for the Braves to try and re-sign him in the offseason.

4. Chipper Jones

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    Chipper Jones is having a great final season with the Braves.

    Currently hitting .297 with 14 home runs and 60 RBI, Jones is getting it done on the field for the Braves.

    Everywhere the Braves go, fans are paying their respects to Jones, knowing it's likely their last live look at the future Hall of Famer.

    Most recently, Jones gave Braves fans another fond memory with a walk-off three-run homer in the ninth inning to beat the Phillies.

    Jones continues to make the plays on defense as well, causing many to wonder how he does it.

    While some would say Jones deserves to be in one of the top two spots, I think being where he's at at his age is a compliment within itself.

3. Martin Prado

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    No matter where you put Martin Prado in the lineup or on the field, he'll succeed.

    He's shown that he's one of the most dependable players on the team, and hopefully the Braves will reward him this offseason.

    Prado is currently hitting .298 with nine home runs and 64 RBI. He's been great at moving Bourn over when needed and is the consummate team player.

    Need him to play second base to give Dan Uggla a break? Done. How about shortstop when injuries depleted the depth there? Done.

    Prado is a guy who loves the game and will play wherever he's needed.

    Along with the next two players on this list, general manager Frank Wren has some nice talent to build around.

2. Freddie Freeman

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    When it comes to first baseman who can get it done at the plate and in the field, Freddie Freeman doesn't get the respect he deserves.

    Sure, he doesn't hit 40 home runs and have 100 RBI in a season, but he provides the Braves with so much in the middle of the lineup.

    Freeman is batting .269 with 20 home runs and 87 RBI this year. His presence in the middle of the lineup and ability to take the ball to all fields doesn't allow for much of a scouting report for other pitchers.

    Then you have his glove at first base. Is there any better fielding first baseman in baseball?

    Freeman is constantly snagging balls out of the dirt and making tough plays on grounders to first. Without him, the Braves infield would have a few more errors to their credit.

1. Jason Heyward

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    Jason Heyward deserves the No. 1 spot because he has come up with key hit after key hit throughout the year.

    He's learned how to play baseball at this level and he's a better player and teammate for it.

    Last year, there were questions of his durability, but Heyward has learned to play through a few minor aches and pains.

    At the plate, Heyward is batting .273 with 27 home runs and 74 RBI. He's also stealing bases again with 19 so far this year.

    The numbers I like most from Heyward is his on-base percentage (.342) and slugging percentage (.494). He's driving the ball and doing so at a good rate.

    In right field, he's made five errors out of more than 300 chances. His arm also keeps runners honest when they're trying to take an extra base.