While the Atlanta Braves have been leading not only the National League's Eastern division all season long, but the National League as a whole. Not many pundits out there are pegging this Atlanta team as the team to beat.
Most citing that the inconsistent offence, or even the injuries to the pitching staff as reason why. I'm here to tell you that this is a mistake.
Let's start with the pitching staff.
First and foremost, the only issue that may arise is this group's inexperience on baseball's biggest stage. The four most likely to be included in a postseason rotation right now have started a combined one playoff game.
This group includes Mike Minor, Kris Medlen, Julio Teheran, and Alex Wood. Youth aside, that is one of the deepest rotations around. Then when you factor in the success this bullpen has had over the duration. Led by the best closer in baseball, Craig Kimbrel. It's hard to poke at the pitching staff going forward.
Where the arguments are starting to pile up would be on the offensive side of things. Which has been downright atrocious at times. 75 million dollar man, B.J. Upton has floundered with his new team.
Justin Upton has been about as reliable as an internet promotion. Then the golden boy, Jason Heyward has been on and off the field with fluke injuries galore.
This was supposed to be the staple of this team. Instead it has been Freddie Freeman along with the other member in the Justin Upton trade. That man is of course Chris Johnson. Who is threatening for the league's batting title.
Whether or not the outfield will do its part going forward remains to be seen, but these two men have done more than enough to set the tone for this squad.
What this team does well is what every Braves team in the 90s did well. They pitch and play outstanding defence.
There's no way to mention defence without the name Andrelton Simmons, who has been the holy grail of defensive shortstops since his promotion a little over a year ago, who has seven more runs saved than anyone else in baseball, and more than double the amount of the closest shortstop at 41, which is the most that have ever been acquired since the stat was first tracked in 2003.
If Heyward bounces back from his broken jaw in time, the offence has shown it can hold its own part of the equation as well. As the team enjoyed the most success when he was inserted into the lead-off slot in late July. They went 18-4 with him there before he was struck in the jaw with a live pitch. Heyward himself sporting a .994 OPS during his time there.
So Braves fans, this is where your hope lies. For the pitching staff to keep doing their thing. The defence to be exceptional as it has been all year. Then for the golden boy to come back and do his thing. If these three things happen, the Braves have to ceiling in the playoffs.
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