Atlanta Braves: 5 Ways Their Offense Can Improve To Get Them into 1st Place

Jonah P DAnalyst IJuly 8, 2011

Atlanta Braves: 5 Ways Their Offense Can Improve To Get Them into 1st Place

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    The Atlanta Braves and the Philadelphia Phillies are currently battling for first place in the NL East in their final series before the 2011 MLB All-Star break.

    Both of their pitching staffs are amazing—possibly the two best in the league.

    The only problem the teams are facing is their struggling offense.

    In the National League, the Braves are ninth in runs scored, and 14th in batting average.

    The Braves need to improve their offense in order to take the lead by the end of the season, and in this article I will explain how they can do so.

Jason Heyward

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    After the amazing numbers Jason Heyward posted in his rookie year, his performance this season is definitely a disappointment.

    He is hitting a mere .233, with nine home runs and 22 RBI.

    His shoulder injury has definitely impacted his hitting. He was out for nearly a month, and does not have nearly as many at-bats as he should.

    But this is no excuse for his poor play this year.

    He has recently been playing more in character, though, hitting .269 so far this month.

    If he does continue to improve, he can play an essential part in the outcome of the division.

Dan Uggla

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    Dan Uggla's performance this season has been an extreme letdown.

    The Braves signed him for a five-year, $62 million contract, expecting him to improve their offense.

    So far this season, he has done no such thing.

    His batting average of .183 is terrible, and his 14 home runs and 32 RBI are only average.

    Last season, Uggla hit .287, with 33 HR and 105 RBI.

    If Uggla ends up with numbers anywhere close to these, he can assist the Braves to first place in the NL East.

Players Return from Injuries

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    Injuries have been negatively impacting the Braves throughout this entire season.

    Currently, the two main players battling injuries are Martin Prado and Chipper Jones.

    Both are key players to the Braves offense, which struggles without them.

    Chipper Jones has been playing through his injuries much of the time, which is worrisome as to how it will affect his second-half performance.

    Jones is hitting .260 this season, which is better than many of his teammates, and if he manages to stay healthy, his bat can be very helpful to the Braves.

    Martin Prado has been unable to play for nearly a month, and should be returning within the next few weeks.

    He is hitting .277, and tends to collect key hits, which are extremely helpful to his team.

Trade for a Hitting Outfielder

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    The non-waiver trade deadline is quickly approaching, and it would be very helpful to the Braves offense if they were to make a trade.

    The main position the Braves are in need of is a center fielder, or any outfielder, for that matter.

    Two great additions to the team would be Matt Kemp and Hunter Pence.

    I know it appears very unlikely for the Braves to land either of these terrific players; however, they would be very useful in the Braves division race.

    Hunter Pence is hitting .328, with a .371 OBP, which would be ideal for the Braves leadoff hitter.

    Matt Kemp is hitting .323, with 22 home runs and 66 RBI.

Consistency from Hitters

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    Brian McCann and Martin Prado are, for the most part, the Braves' only consistent hitters.

    However, Prado is injured, and McCann cannot carry the team's offense forever.

    The Braves obviously need to address this problem as soon as possible.

    Heyward and Uggla have been hitting on and off this season, but lately they have been more consistent at the plate, which is a good sign.

    Freddie Freeman's sudden hot streak also gives hope to the Braves offense. He has brought his average up to .280, and he is hitting .364 so far this month.

    If each of these players can continue to hit consistently, it may give the Braves a slight edge to take the division from the Phillies.