Braves' Future Looks Good with June on the Horizon

Ricky SmallzContributor IMay 17, 2009

PITTSBURGH - MAY 10:  Chipper Jones #10 of the Atlanta Braves waits to bat against the Pittsburgh Pirates on May 10, 2008 at PNC Park in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

Whatever happened to the Atlanta Braves’ dominance in the NL East? They're 36 games into the young season and some may be counting them out. Yes, they are in third and they are three games back, but it’s nothing new.

Do the Atlanta Braves really need to worry?

The 18-18 Braves are not in unfamiliar territory. In the last nine years, at this exact point in the season, the Braves have been in third or worse five times. Three of those times, the Braves went on to win the NL East.

In 2001, the Braves were 17-19 in fifth place. We all know what the outcome of that season was: the Braves went on to win their 11th straight division title.

In 1995, the year the Braves went on to win the World Series, they were in third place, had a 20-16 record, and were 4.5 games back. The Braves weren’t in first until July fourth.

The Braves are not known for fast starts in a season, but for June and July. Between 2000 and 2005, the Braves highest or second highest month winning percentage was  July. The highest winning percentage of the six years was 2002 in June. The braves were 20-5 and had a winning percentage of 800 percent.

In the last nine years, despite 2008’s 400% winning percentage, the Braves never went below 500% in the month of July.

With Chipper and McCann healthy, the Braves are set to finish May out strong. The Braves staff is in good shape with 5-1 Derek Lowe and 23-year-old Jair Jurrjens leading the way. The Braves are getting good production out of their young players, Yunel Escobar and Jeff Francoeur. Braves have high hopes for rookie center fielder Jordan Schafer to come around for the future months. Right now, not even a crystal ball can see the Braves' future in the young 2009 season.

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