Atlanta Braves’ Top 5 Bullpen Arms
There was one thing in 2013 that is going to be hard for the 2014 Atlanta Braves to top. They were so good at it last season that they were among the leaders in MLB at the end of the season.
The bullpen of the Braves in 2013 was quite simply the best in the entire league. So good in fact, that without it I doubt that they would have won 96 games and ran away with the NL East crown. The pen led the league in total ERA with a 2.46 mark in 460.2 innings. They finished third in saves (53) behind the Baltimore Orioles (57) and Pittsburgh Pirates (55). They also finished third in walks allowed with 155 behind the St. Louis Cardinals with 148 and the Oakland Athletics with 154. Finally they finished fourth in opponent’s batting average against them.
B.J. Upton looking to hit on offensive success
ATLANTA — As his first season with the Braves continued to grow more disappointing last year, outfielder B.J. Upton spent countless hours with hitting coach Greg Walker, attempting to regain the simple controlled swing Upton possessed during the early years of his career.
Once Upton concluded the season with a .184 batting average, nine home runs and a .557 OPS, he entered the offseason with the hope that the relaxed winter setting would allow him the opportunity to decompress and make the necessary adjustments.
Upton will not realize the results of his offseason endeavors until the regular season arrives. But Walker gained some encouragement after he traveled to Tampa, Fla., earlier this week to watch the talented outfielder take some swings in an indoor batting cage.
“The swings I saw work for me,” Walker said. “It was a lot different than what we saw last year. It was a lot more simple, with a lot less moving parts.”
Best & Worst of the Past 10 Years: Outfielders
… Finally get to include Prado on the list. It may be hard to believe, but he did actually play his most defensive innings as a Brave in LF. He made the transition almost flawlessly from position to position including his final season in Atlanta where he nearly put up 6 wins in value. Matt Diaz hit quite well with the Braves, finishing with a .299/.347/.449 triple-slash, which were actually a tick better than Prado pre-park adjustments. Diaz will be remembered as a lefty killer (I specifically remember v. Johan Santana). In his one season as a Brave, Justin is already one of the most valuable players the team has seen at the position. Upton did pretty well offensively but was atrocious in the field, partially due to making the transition from RF to LF. He is sure to jump Diaz in 2014.
Braves must go low with Kimbrel
The arbitration case that will be made for Craig Kimbrel next month will be unique, because no reliever has started a career with three-plus seasons like Kimbrel — 381 strikeouts among the first 883 hitters he’s faced, with a 1.39 ERA and 139 saves. The Braves love Kimbrel, having drafted and developed him and promoted him into the closer’s role just a couple of months into his career.
But the gap between what the Braves have offered Kimbrel — $6.55 million — and what Kimbrel wants in arbitration — $9 million — is enormous, and there’s more at stake for Atlanta in this hearing than the $2.45 million that separates the sides.
If the Braves win the case, they will give themselves a legitimate chance to keep Kimbrel for 2015. If they lose, however, then Kimbrel may be priced off the Atlanta roster sooner than anybody expects. Because arbitration cases are like building blocks, with one decision stacked upon the next.
If Kimbrel wins his case and makes $9 million in 2014, then he will be well-positioned to ask for something in the range of $14 million-$15 million next year — or, in other words, he could become the highest-paid reliever in baseball in his second year of arbitration eligibility.
Atlanta Braves’ Tyler Pastornicky Good For Infield Depth
Every season in MLB, each team is reminded how important depth is at some point. For the Atlanta Braves, they will see the return of a guy that can go out and play either position in the middle of the infield and swing a decent bat.
In 2013, Tyler Pastornicky tore his ACL, effectively ending his season. As of a few days ago, reports have stated that his rehab is going smoothly and he could start taking ground balls for the first time around the first week of February. This is good news to the Braves as they need all of the help they can get on the infield considering the question marks that surround second base.