MLB: 5 Reasons Why the Atlanta Braves Will Win the World Series
Over the course of the 90s and the mid 2000s, the Atlanta Braves won an unprecedented fourteen straight division titles. Even with this regular season dominance, the Braves only won one world series.
There were many reasons for this lack of success in the postseason. Sometimes the Braves simply lost to better teams, like the Yankees in the 90s. On other occasions, the Braves were unlucky and had to face the hottest team in baseball, such as the Diamondbacks in 2001.
The 2011 Braves seem to have a different vibe. They have new leadership with Manager Fredi Gonzalez, who replaced longtime Manager Bobby Cox and seems to have addressed many of the struggles that plagued last year's ball club.
General Manager Frank Wren has done an excellent job of putting together a balanced team with loads of depth. Look ahead to see why these Braves will have what it takes to bring a World Championship to Atlanta.
No. 1: Pitching, Pitching and More Pitching
Outside of the Phillies, the Braves have arguably the best pitching staff in the big leagues. Top to bottom, the Braves have lively arms that consistently give them quality starts.
The Braves will have to figure out what to do with Tommy Hanson, who has a slight tear in his rotator cuff. It will definitely hurt the Braves chances if he can't pitch, but the Braves should have enough depth to withstand the potential loss of Hanson.
Derek Lowe has struggled this season with an 8-12 record, but his postseason experience will be invaluable to the young Braves hurlers.
At 36 years old, Tim Hudson has been the Braves best pitcher down the stretch, posting a 5-2 record with a 2.26 ERA since the all-star break.
Jair Jurrjens has been the biggest surprise on the Braves pitching staff this season. Since starting the season on the DL, Jurrjens has gone 13-5 with a 2.71 ERA. His production earned Jurrjens his first all-star appearance.
If Hanson were not able to go for the Braves in the postseason, look for a guy like former first-round pick Mike Minor to step in and do an admirable job.
No. 2: Dominant Rookies
The Braves farm system seems to always be stockpiled with young players that are ready to make an impact at the big league level. This could be even more so this season, as the top two candidates for National League Rookie of the Year are Braves Craig Kimbrel and Freddie Freeman.
Kimbrel has been exceptional out of the 'pen for this season. He has already tied the all-time save record for a rookie with 40 and doesn't seem to be slowing down anytime soon. The All-Star rookie has also not allowed a run since June 11 and averages a ridiculous 15.3 strikeouts per nine innings. His 1.70 ERA stands as the best in baseball.
Freddie Freeman is another one of the Braves' young players who has had an excellent season. Freeman is hitting .291, with 18 homeruns and 64 runs batted in for the Bravos this season. The 21-year-old literally carried the Braves' offense in July, posting a .362 average with six dingers in that month alone.
As the season has progressed, both Kimbrel and Freeman have risen to the occasion and produced more than their fair share. The bright lights of September shouldn't faze these young studs.
No. 3: Emergence of Dan Uggla
Since Dan Uggla got off to an atrocious start in his Braves' tenure, the slugging second basemen has gone on an absolute tear. Since the All-Star break, Uggla is hitting .336, with 15 home runs and 33 RBI's. Add in a 33-game hitting streak and you have an incredible second half for Uggla.
Uggla gives the Braves another legitimate power hitter to put into the middle of the lineup and drive in guys like Michael Bourn and Martin Prado.
When things were going tough for Uggla at the start of the season, he remained patient and calm at the plate. Uggla carried that same lack of emotion, even during his 33-game hitting streak. His calm demeanor should benefit the Braves in their postseason push.
No. 4: Arrival of Young Arms out of the 'Pen
Everyone is aware of the utter dominance out of the bullpen for the Braves this season that has been Eric O'Flaherty, Johnny Venters and Craig Kimbrel. But these won't be the only names who will make an impact out of the bullpen come playoff time.
Insert Arodys Viscaino, Julio Teheran and Randall Delgado; all of whom ESPN analyst Keith Law ranks as three of the top 50 prospects in baseball.
All three have shown that they belong when given opportunities with a major league club.
Viscaino has 1.86 ERA, with 10 strikeouts in 10 innings of relief work since being called up.
Delgado has a 3.60 ERA in two spot starts for the club this season. One of which he had a no-hitter going through five innings.
Teheran hasn't favored quite as well in his short stint on the big league club, but he is the most highly touted of all the Braves' prospects.
The three young Braves' hurlers will certainly make an impact come playoff team. All three will throw in the upper 90s out of the bullpen. Look for their fresh arms to dominate the opposition this postseason and give O'Flaherty, Venters and Kimbrel much needed aid.
No. 5: More Well-Rouned Lineup
Adding center fielder Michael Bourn has done wonders for the Braves, who haven't had a legitimate leadoff man since Rafael Furcal left the club in 2005.
Bourn's elite speed puts pressure on the opposing pitcher and will help the Braves produce runs come playoff time.
Moving Martin Prado down to his more appropriate two-spot in the lineup has given the Braves an extremely dangerous 1-7 batting order. When Chipper Jones is hitting sixth and Jason Heyward is hitting seventh, you know you have a dangerous lineup.
Bourn isn't the only new Brave to bring speed to the base paths. Career minor leaguer Jose Constanza has done wonders for the Braves offense, hitting .341 with seven steals in 26 games. Constanza has even taken away playing time from Heyward, who has struggled in his sophomore campaign.
Acquiring Bourn without giving up a major prospect has done wonders to this ball club. If the Braves can continue to stay healthy, they will surely be a team to be reckoned with come playoff time.