Atlanta Braves Midseason Report: 5 Ways the Team Can Improve
The baseball season has officially reached its halfway point, with the Braves 4 games out of first place in the NL East.
Four games back in June is not much of a problem, and a few adjustments can be made to help the Braves overcome their difference in the standings.
The question is, how?
In this article, I will explain the Braves main difficulties, and also ways to improve the team.
The Braves have the 9th most runs and 14th highest BA in the league. Obviously something is wrong.
McCann cannot continue to carry the team's offense, as he has done for most of this year.
Jason Heyward and Dan Uggla should be handed the blame for this particular issue.
Their offensive production has been extremely low this season, especially after the high expectations for each of them. Heyward is currently batting .228, and Uggla .175.
They both have the capabilities of hitting .300, and they need to begin to display these as the season continues.
Luckily for them, Martin Prado, who was hitting .277 before his injury, is expected to soon return to the Braves lineup.
Also, Freddie Freeman has recently been heating up. He is hitting .287, with 4 HR and 17 RBI, in the month of June.
I have high expectations for the Braves offense for the next few months, and I hope not to be let down.
The Braves defense, while immensely improved from last season, is still not as good as it should be.
This may be owed in part to the aging Chipper Jones, who can not move as well as he used to. Also, Jason Heyward, Martin Prado, and Dan Uggla have made their share of errors.
The Braves overall fielding percentage ranks 9th in the National League, and the amount of errors the team has committed ranks 10th.
I find this very disappointing. However, if the Braves defense improves, it could limit the amount of runs given up.
For example, the Braves have given up 21 unearned runs this season, some of which cost the Braves wins.
3. Consistency of Starting Pitching
The Braves have one of the top starting pitching staffs in the league.
Although the consistency of the staff is a slight drawback.
Derek Lowe began the season with a 3.21 ERA in the first few months, which is great. However, it has since risen to 4.16.
Tim Hudson has been experiencing similar difficulties.
Both pitchers have been having ups and downs this season, and I am nervous each time they are to pitch. If they can control this and pitch as well as they have in the past, I expect to see a large difference in the quality of their starts.
4. Make a Trade Before the Deadline
A helpful addition to the Braves roster would be Astros outfielder Michael Bourn or Hunter Pence.
Michael Bourn would truly be the ideal leadoff man the Braves currently lack.
He could take over CF from the struggling Nate McLouth, who is referenced later in this article.
Bourn has a very impressive BA of .288, and an OBP of .354. Also, his 34 stolen bases can give Atlanta the speed they are looking for in their leadoff hitter.
Hunter Pence is also a great option, with a .314 BA and .356 OBP.
I realize the Braves are unlikely to make a trade at the moment; however, if Wren changes his mind, I hope he takes these two outfielders into consideration.
5. Get Rid of Nate McLouth
This season, Nate McLouth has not exactly been an asset to the Braves team.
He is currently hitting .232, with 3 HR and 12 RBI on the season. And he shows no sign of improvement.
Each month of this season, McLouth's numbers have rapidly declined, bringing him all the way down to a .192 BA, with 0 HR and 1 RBI in the month of June.
I must admit his injury has sidelined him for much of the month; however, he did manage 26 at-bats.
To say the very least, his numbers leave plenty of room for improvement, which has not yet occurred.
If the Braves do not manage to trade him away, which I doubt they will, it would probably be worth it to pay another team to take his contract. Or at least they could send him down to the minors.
If the Braves can make at least some of these adjustments, I expect to see them in the postseason.
This season is only halfway through, and in the remaining 81 games, I look forward to watching the Braves compete for first place.