The Atlanta Braves are trying to repeat the success they had in the 1990s. They have been hovering in & out the playoffs for a couple years and they hope their offseason moves will push them to the next level.
The Braves are replacing two-thirds of their outfield with a pair of talented brothers. Justin & B.J Upton have a lot of pressure to produce this season. They are replacing Martin Prado and Michael Bourn, two players who had career years in 2012.
Can the Braves fight off the Washington Nationals and win the NL East?
Will Kris Medlen start this season hot, as he ended 2012?
Key Additions: OF Justin Upton, OF B.J. Upton, P Jordan Walden, C Gerald Laird, OF Jordan Schafer, 3B Blake DeWitt
Key Losses: 3B/OF Martin Prado, 3B Chipper Jones, OF Michael Bourn, P Tommy Hanson, P Jair Jurrjen, P Peter Moylan, P Ben Sheets, C David Ross, SS Jack Wilson, INF Jeff Baker, 1B Lyle Overbay, P Miguel Batista
Interleague Schedule: AL Central + Toronto Blue Jays
Projected Starters: Brian McCann, Freddie Freeman, Dan Uggla, Juan Francisco, Andrelton Simmons, Justin Upton, B.J. Upton & Jason Heyward
Projected Starting Rotation: Tim Hudson, Kris Medlen, Paul Maholm, Mike Minor & Julio Teheran
Closer: Craig Kimbrel
Fantasy Sleepers: P Mike Minor/3B Chris Johnson – I don’t usually add two sleepers here, but I like Mike Minor and Chris Johnson to be drafted lower than their production numbers in 2013. Kris Medlen had a lot of publicity for his hot stretch at the end of last season, but Minor had a good year for only being 24 years old. I see a big jump in his production with a WHIP around 1.10 or lower. As for Chris Johnson, he was a guy I had on my fantasy league and he helped me stay in a couple leagues. I had injuries at my 3B position and Johnson gave me a batting average just shy of .300 and a little pop. He’s a risky last-round pick because he’s currently behind young Juan Francisco. If Francisco shows signs that he’s not ready, you’ll cash in big with Johnson already on your bench.
Team Analysis: The Braves had a very good season last year and they hope to push themselves to an elite level with their offseason moves. They lost 2/3 of their outfield, but hope the Upton brothers will be an improvement. B.J. is very streaky and Justin plateaued last season and didn’t have the breakout season many expected. The lineup could produce lot of strikeouts to the opposing pitching staff with Dan Uggla and the Upton brothers in it, so they need their own pitching staff to bail them out if they’re off that day. Speaking of Atlanta’s pitching, their bullpen is one of the best in all of baseball. The 8th & 9th inning combo of Jonny Venters and Craig Kimbrel will make having a lead after eight, nearly an automatic win. I have the Braves winning the NL East, but by a very slim margin over the Washington Nationals. Both teams are very even in many areas, but I gave the nod to the Braves, even though the Nats’ bullpen is good on paper, they have only one left hander in the entire bullpen.
Sportsbook.ag’s 2013 Wins Over/Under Line: 87.5 (Prediction: OVER)
2013 Projected Win/Loss Record: 96-66 (1st in NL East)
…because people often find my site on Google by trying to find MLB players with their shirt off (I have zero idea how this started). Here is a picture of Kris Medlen shirtless showing off his large tattoo.