After an abysmal 2010 campaign, Nate McLouth was on the hot seat in the Atlanta Braves clubhouse.
When he was acquired by Atlanta in 2009, many fans saw McLouth as a crucial addition, but ever since the trade McLouth failed to meet expectations. The speedy center fielder batted only .190 in 85 games for the Braves in 2010, leading many Atlanta faithful to dismiss him as a trade failure. Hopes of a rebound season, was the positive discussion around McLouth.
To the delight of the Braves, McLouth is showing some signs of his old form. In the first month with the Braves this season McLouth has batted a much improved .247 average with 13 runs scored so far.
His best at-bats have come on the ongoing California road-trip. Since leaving the friendly confines of Turner Field, McLouth has been one of the Braves' hottest hitters batting .320. While nobody expects Nate to win any batting titles, his progress shows he has clearly put the nightmarish 2010 season behind him.
In Sunday's victory against the world champion Giants, McLouth demonstrated some focus in the clutch. In the top of the 10th, McLouth delivered a game-winning single off the famed closer Brian Wilson. The two-out, full-count single was just one of numerous crucial hits for McLouth on the road trip.
The Braves are beginning to look like the team predicted by many to be a contender come October. With the improvement of McLouth, Jayson Heyward and rookie Freddie Freeman, Atlanta's bats are coming to life.
Atlanta's defense has been stellar thus far with a league-leading 24 turned double plays and only nine errors. Pitching that seemed shaky early on has returned back to the dominance seen last season. Atlanta carries a modest three-game winning series into San Diego to wrap up their long 10-game road trip.
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