Land of the Free and Home of the Braves?
Sure you hear it every year: this year is our year. But this year should be the year it finally comes back together for the Atlanta Braves.
Following their incredible streak of post-season appearances in the 1990s, the team has hit somewhat of a skid when it comes to their play in October.
The fight for the right to play in October begins long before the end of the regular season. Now is the time for the Atlanta Braves to make a stand in the competitive National League East.
Baseball is a team sport. Every player needs to pull their weight in order for the entire team to succeed. Granted everyone has slumps and bad days, but the Braves can’t rely on Brian McCann, Jeff Francoeur, Mark Teixeira and Chipper Jones to drive in all of the runs.
The Braves have a relatively young lineup with many youngsters who show great potential.
The usual lead-off man Kelly Johnson has done well for himself at the top of the lineup. He has produced good numbers for the team early this year.
Just this month, Johnson is posting a cool .359 batting average and a slugging percentage of .615. Although he only has 4 RBI this month, Johnson strategically gets himself in a position where he can be driven in by the players batting behind him.
Another young player in the Braves' lineup that needs to step up and show the league what he is capable of is Yunel Escobar. This strong-armed shortstop shows a lot of promise both on the field and in the batter's box.
Although he has only played in a third of the games that he did last year, he is one home run shy of his total from last year and already has 16 out of the 28 RBI he hit last season.
The Braves made up for losing the great centerfielder Andruw Jones by acquiring Mark Kotsay from the Oakland Athletics. Kotsay has been a good answer for the lack of batting in the lower part of the team's lineup recently.
He is a run-producing hitter who has posted 18 RBI this season. Along with driving in runs, he is helping the team by getting on base so the pitcher can bunt him into scoring position and, in turn, allow the contact hitters to drive him in.
Although the Braves' lineup consists of some seasoned veterans in Jones and Teixeira, they also have plenty of unseen talent that has yet to rise to their full potential.
With the incredible talent that fills the Braves' roster, they should have no problem rising to the top of the National League East and making huge strides toward the post-season.
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