Braves Baseball: 5 Things We Learned About Atlanta in Spring Training
With spring training winding down and the first pitch of regular-season baseball on this continent on the horizon, it is as good a time as any to take stock in what we have learned this March.
Necessary spring training caveat: Statistics and records from spring training are often misleading and worthless. There is little to be learned from the fact that Freddie Freeman is batting .368 this spring. Everyone knows he is a good hitter already. Likewise, if a star player isn’t collecting hits or is getting pounded on the mound, there is little to be worried about. Perhaps they haven’t hit game shape yet or are working on something new.
However, where spring training is useful is in determining the rest of a team’s roster, everyone outside of star status. The oft-used thought about the NFL combine is analogous: It isn’t news when a fast player runs fast or a slow player runs slow. It is only worthwhile to know if the opposite happens in either situation.
NL East 2014 predictions
he countdown to the 2014 season gets shorter everyday thankfully. We’ve taken a look at the opening series for each NL East team and some fantasy stars you should have drafted by now. With the teams all in a five-way tie for first place only a few days more, it’s time to throw out my predictions for this season.
I don’t see the Phillies competing much at all this year. Cole Hamels is starting the season on the disabled list. He may be joined by more members of the team. It seems every Phillies player has seen time on the DL for extended periods of time over the last few seasons. With a team full of aged veterans, AARP memberships will be kicking in for most of them in terms of baseball age.
Old age equals more injuries. Between Ryan Howard, Chase Utley, Jimmy Rollins, and Cliff Lee, there better be a handful of prospects ready to see ample game time. Nothing is certain in Philadelphia this season in regards to the starting lineup and roster. What is certain is that the Phillies will have trouble winning ball games and will find themselves in the cellar this season.
Tigers 9, Braves 3: Miguel Cabrera hits three-run home run; Max Scherzer strikes out six
LAKELAND, Fla. — First base was open. The Atlanta Braves would likely have intentionally walked Miguel Cabrera if it had been a regular-season game. But it was a Grapefruit League game. Aaron Harang chose to pitch to Cabrera.
Cabrera made him pay.
Cabrera hit a three-run home run to the top of the grass berm beyond the wall in left field Thursday afternoon as the Detroit Tigers rolled to a 9-3 victory over the Atlanta Braves.
The home run, the fourth of the spring for Cabrera, erased a 3-1 deficit and gave the Tigers a 4-3 lead. Cabrera is hitting .353 with four home runs and 12 RBIs in Grapefruit League play.
Max Scherzer surrendered three runs, two earned, in 6 2/3 innings. He entered the game with 24 strikeouts and one walk in 20 innings this spring, then struck out six and walked two in his start against the Braves. The earned runs off Scherzer came on a pair of solo home runs for the Braves in the fifth inning.
Harang works into sixth inning in Braves debut
LAKELAND, Fla. — Miguel Cabrera’s three-run home run spoiled Aaron Harang’s first appearance in a Braves uniform, sending Max Scherzer and the Tigers to a middle-inning comeback with a 9-3 win Thursday afternoon at Joker Marchant Stadium.
The game closes the Braves’ Grapefruit League schedule with a 12-18-3 record. Detroit heads into its Spring Training finale Friday against the Rays with a 14-12-2 mark.
Three days after signing a one-year contract to shore up the injury-shortened Braves pitching staff, Harang took the mound for Atlanta and more than held his own. He had a lead thanks to Jordan Schafer, who scored on a Freddie Freeman sacrifice fly in the third inning before slugging a solo homer in the fifth.
Once B.J. Upton jumped a first-pitch Scherzer changeup and sent it to the top of the left-field berm for his first home run of the spring, the Braves had a 3-1 lead for Harang going into the bottom of the fifth. One swing from Cabrera erased it.
Will Braves Win NL East?
Before the injuries to Kris Medlen and Brandon Beachy, I thought the Braves had a good chance to repeat as National League Eastern division champions. With those injuries, my win projection on the Braves has changed.
The Braves won 96 games last season and looking at the roster and the competitive level in the National League, I was originally projecting 92 wins for the Braves this season before the injuries. I now see the Braves as an 88 win team. While this year’s edition won’t set any regular season win records, I think the excitement level will be high as the Braves will battle all season to secure a wild card slot.
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