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A Betting Man's Guide: Atlanta Braves Preview

Updated on February 29, 2012

Atlanta Braves - Over/Under 87

If not for the Red Sox even more epic collapse, the Atlanta Braves would have been the whipping boy of the baseball offseason, but they somehow flew under the radar despite blowing a 10.5 game lead in a little over a month to end the 2011 season. Rather than give into the knee-jerk reaction to shake things up, and start passing out blame, the Braves pretty much did nothing. They licked their wounds, sucked it up, and are poised to erase the memory of a soiled 2011 campaign.

The future of the Braves lineup would be in good hands should Freeman and Heyward capitalize on their immense potential.
The future of the Braves lineup would be in good hands should Freeman and Heyward capitalize on their immense potential.

Positive Regression and Growth

The Braves had 89 wins last year even with that epic collapse. Also, with poor years (and BABIP's) from Heyward, Prado, and a miserable 60 or so games from Uggla, the offense should improve simply because of luck and regression to the mean. That doesn't even take into account the progression of Freddie Freeman into probably the best hitter on the team, and a full season of Michael Bourn filling the black hole that was the leadoff spot for the past two years. Their 22nd ranked offense should be better regardless, and could be top 10 should Heyward and Freeman really blossom into the perennial All-Stars their skill sets suggest.

Tim Hudson is the elder statesman of the Braves elite pitching staff.
Tim Hudson is the elder statesman of the Braves elite pitching staff.

Pitching Staff

Even if their offensive output increases a moderate amount, the Braves, like always, are set on the mound. The pitching staff, as a whole, was 4th in ERA and led the majors in strikeouts. With Hudson, Hanson, Beachy and Jurrjens locked into the rotation, the Braves still have high upside options for the fifth starter: be it youngsters Mike Minor, Randall Delgado, or the most-hyped of the trio, Julio Teheran. That doesn't even account for the bullpen, which had the best ERA and most strikeouts in baseball last year. The Braves sport arguably the best overall staff in baseball and as a whole are pretty young. This leaves room for improvement, and considering they were already at the top of the league, the Braves could leave NL East hitters muttering to themselves for most of the year.

Look for the Braves to be celebrating a division title at the end of the 2012 season.
Look for the Braves to be celebrating a division title at the end of the 2012 season.

Prediction

I have a tough time seeing the Braves not getting to 90+ wins and challenging the Phillies. With the Phillies rotation, they will definitely be a viable contender for the World Series, but their offensive output decreased to 13th last year, and they actually scored less runs than the Mets. Their main guys are aging, Howard, Utley and Rollins are 32 or older, and Howard has a troubling Achilles injury. I actually think the Braves win the division and if their offense (Heyward and Freeman) improves enough, they could flirt with 100 wins.

Final record - 97-65

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    • Kathleen Cochran profile image

      Kathleen Cochran 

      6 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      From your mouth to God's ears. Welcome to HubPages. I've written a few on baseball. Love to share them! Up and interesting.

    • monroekelly profile imageAUTHOR

      monroekelly 

      6 years ago from Virginia

      I don't think youth had a great deal to do with the collapse. With guys like Jones, McCann and Hudson, I don't think the moment was overwhelming. I think Gonzalez overwhelmed the bullpen, and they ran out of gas. And of course bad luck. Thanks for responding.

    • adjkp25 profile image

      David 

      6 years ago from Northern California

      The Braves suffered like any young team down the stretch last year but I'm sure they learned from it. I think the Phillies have the NL East for one more year and then Atlanta and Miami takes it over. If Howard misses large chunks of time with the heel injury Atlanta could totally jump in front of them.

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