March 22, 2013; Clearwater, FL, USA; Atlanta Braves catcher Evan Gattis (68) hits a solo home run during the sixth inning against the Philadelphia Phillies at Bright House Networks Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Morning Chop: Atlanta Braves News 2/12/14

The Evan Gattis Home Run Showdown

Talking Chop

Evan Gattis had quite a remarkable rookie year. By seasons’ end, he built enough trust with his abilities behind the plate for the Braves to allow him to take over as the primary catcher for the 2014 season.

In his first big league season he finished with 21 home runs. Across both leagues, he ranked 12th in PA/HR and 14th in isolated power (ISO) among all players with over 250 PA. Both of these metrics are a solid indicator that Gattis has some of the deadliest power in the majors. Looking back over the course of the season, there were two home runs that rose above the rest because of the extraordinary physical strength and ability that were put on display.

 

 

Atlanta Braves: Risk Not A Factor In Freddie Freeman Extension

Call To The Pen

As we near this final stretch of days before spring training really gets underway, we’ve reached the point in the winter where there are a few notable free agents remaining, but the real news is going to come in the form of contract extensions. With arbitration hearings on the horizon, many teams are looking to get players locked in on shorter term deals, but some are looking to sign some of their younger pieces to long term contracts.

Such was the case with the Atlanta Braves and Freddie Freeman. The Braves locked up their young first baseman on one of the largest contracts ever for a player with less than four years of service time. The two sides came together on an eight-year, $135 million contract last week to lock up one of their key pieces until he reaches his 30s.

Some have looked at the move as something of a risk for the Braves, as such a heavy investment for a player with such limited time at the big league level is pretty uncommon. Nonetheless, in two of his three years in the Major Leagues, Freeman has clearly established himself as one of the premier first baseman at the game’s highest level.

 

 

Braves’ pitchers, catchers raring to go at camp

MLB.com

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — After Freddie Freeman asked him to deliver a few batting-practice pitches on Tuesday morning, Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez replied, “I have not thrown since that last game against the Dodgers.”

A little more than four months have passed since the Braves bid adieu to a memorable 96-win season with a loss to the Dodgers in the National League Division Series. If this abrupt postseason exit caused any lingering sting, Gonzalez’s players will use it as a motivating factor as they attempt to defend their NL East crown.

“We were right there last year,” Braves outfielder Justin Upton said. “We ran into a hot Dodgers team and didn’t really get a chance to get rolling. We have a good team, a good ballclub. Everybody has another year under their belt. Our pitching staff is getting better. Our hitters are getting better. So it will be interesting to see what happens. I think, for the most part, we are headed in the right direction.”

 

 

The Atlanta Braves 2014 Leading Men

Atlanta Bullpen

Trying to guess what the Atlanta Braves batting order will be in 2014 is like trying to guess who will win all the brackets in the NCAA basketball tournament.  For instance, who would have thought at this time last year that Jason Heyward would ignite the Braves from the lead-off spot?

I’m not going to guess what Fredi Gonzalez will do about the lead-off spot this season, but I am going to give you my opinions on what makes most sense and why.

 In the lead-off spot I want a guy who can get on base and has fourth gear speed.  Sure Heyward did a great job batting first last season, but I don’t want him leading off.  Having Heyward taking pitches and slapping the ball is like driving a Ferrari in the right lane.  As Heyward continues to develop physically and at the plate, he has the potential to be one of the most feared power hitters in the game.  I want him hitting further down in the line-up and developing his power stroke.
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