MLB: How the Atlanta Braves Will Overtake the Philadelphia Phillies

Jonah P DAnalyst IJune 25, 2011

MLB: How the Atlanta Braves Will Overtake the Philadelphia Phillies

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    The Atlanta Braves are currently in second place in the NL East, which I find very impressive, yet they remain five games behind the Philadelphia Phillies

    I know the Braves are quite capable of overtaking their first-place rivals—they have only a few obstacles that are keeping them from doing so.

    In this slideshow, I will explain what these obstacles are and how the Braves can possibly overcome them.

Injuries

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    I realize there is nothing the Braves can do to prevent injuries from occurring; however, they have made a large impact on the performance of the team.

    It seems as though there is hardly a single Brave who has not recently taken a trip to the DL.

    Tim Hudson has been battling a back injury, Brandon Beachy has only recently returned from the DL, Jair Jurrjens missed his first few starts due to injuries, Kris Medlen is recovering from Tommy John and Tommy Hanson currently has an injured shoulder.

    Jason Heyward missed about one month for his shoulder injury, Nate McLouth spent a while with an injured knee, Martin Prado is attempting to return from the DL and Chipper Jones has recently been battling various injuries.

    Obviously, this has negatively affected the quality of the Braves’ performance. 

Uggla and Heyward

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    When the Braves signed Dan Uggla for a five-year, $62 million contract, they were obviously expecting him to improve their offense and had high expectations for him.

    However, his lowly batting average of .175 is simply pathetic!

    And while he isn’t the type of player who hits for average, he has only achieved 10 home runs and 23 RBI, which is hardly average, much less impressive. I am quite disappointed in the way he has been performing this season.

    Jason Heyward also set very high expectations for himself in his stellar rookie year, achieving ROY runner-up. He has since fallen short of these expectations. While his shoulder injury has sidelined him for an extensive amount of time, his BA has remained around the .230’s since his return, a disappointment for a player with such high capabilities.

    It is very important to the Braves' offense that these two players achieve key hits to remain in the race for the NL East.

Center Field

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    The Braves have recently been facing difficulties in center field, such as finding a bat good enough to improve the offense—neither Nate McLouth nor Jordan Schafer seem capable of this.

    This has imposed a large problem for the Braves, but there may be a solution though.

    There is a man named Jose Constanza who currently plays in Gwinnett and appears much more capable of filling the CF role than any other candidate. I am hoping his .342 BA and .388 OBP this season are enough for the Braves to consider bringing him up to the majors.

Offensive Spark

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    The Braves have many very capable hitters on their team, but none of them seem to get "hot" at the same time.

    This is what is necessary for the Braves to win games. They have recently had many close games, in which they needed only a few players to achieve key hits in order to win.

    Many times, this does not occur. I believe if they get these key hits, the Braves will soon overtake the Phillies.

Starting Pitching

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    I am in no way suggesting that the Braves' starting pitching has not been absolutely stellar; I am only suggesting that their pitching has not been on quite the same level as the Phillies recently.

    The inconsistency of some Braves pitchers has been holding them back in the standings. Derek Lowe and Tim Hudson have had some exceptional outings, as well as some very poor outings.The same has occurred for Mike Minor and Brandon Beachy, though I will not blame them because this is typical of rookies.

    If Braves pitchers could be completely consistent, they could easily brag about four aces in Hanson, Jurrjens, Hudson and Lowe.

Conclusion

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    I have trust in the Braves to overcome each of these difficulties. If their performance meets all their capabilities, the Braves will soon grab first place from the Phillies.