Key Acquisitions: Mark Kotsay - OF, Tom Glavine - SP, Josh Anderson - OF, Omar Infante – IF
Strengths: If the Braves are in your ballpark and there is a lefty on the mound, look out. Atlanta averaged 5.61 runs per game on the road in the division. On the season they averaged an impressive 5.00 runs per game. They also scored more runs and had more RBI than any team in baseball against left handed pitching.
In 2007 the Braves also knew how to work the count as they drew 534 walks (12th most in the league). Their starting rotation was good last season, and it got better with the signing of Glavine. One through three they are as good as anybody. Without Glavine, they held teams to a 4.52 RPG average.
Atlanta also has a solid bullpen in place, they were 10th in runs per inning allowed.
Weaknesses: Last season the Braves struggled a little bit with right handed pitching. While not terrible, they were in the bottom half of the league in HR's, RBI, and runs scored versus righties.
Atlanta also had their share of miscues in the field. The Braves had 107 errors on the year (9th worst in baseball).
The bullpen, while impressive in most areas, did give a few too many free passes, it ranked 21st in walks per inning allowed.
Summary: The Braves appear to be in position to make a push for the NL East title. Not only did they bring Tom Glavine back into the fold, they have a number of strong canidates to fill out the back end of their rotation.
If Mike Hampton can return healthy, and if Jo-Jo Reyes and Jair Jurrjens can meet their promise, this club could do great things. That's a lot of 'ifs' but they will be fine either way.
This team will not have trouble scoring runs and their top three starters will keep them in things even if the back end falls apart. The Braves also possess a quality bullpen but did lose reliever Ron Mahay to KC. Losing Andruw Jones doesn't help things but Kotsay and Anderson should be an adequate platoon tandem in CF.
Prediction: First Place in the NL East
1B: Mark Teixeira
2B: Kelly Johnson
3B: Chipper Jones
SS: Yunel Escobar
C: Brian McCann
LF: Matt Diaz
RF: Jeff Francoeur
CF: Josh Anderson
Key Players & Trends
Tim Hudson has pitched in Atlanta for three seasons. During that span the Braves are 60-38 when Hudson starts for them (61 percent win percentage). They have won at an even better rate when Hudson has started against NL East opposition, in those games Atlanta is 28-14 (67 percent win percentage).
The Braves have posted similar numbers with John Smoltz since he returned to a starter's role in 2005. Atlanta is 61-40 in games Smoltz has started the last three seasons for a win percentage of 60 percent.