I painted a grim picture last season when reviewing the Atlanta Braves, but they were even worse than anticipated. Atlanta finished last in home runs and runs scored, and were the second worst team in ground outs. A.J. Pierzynski led the team in batting average (.300), Nick Markakis was the team’s top scorer (73), and Freddie Freeman was the top RBI man (66) as well as the only player to hit more than 10 home runs (18). Yup, those were your stars.
There’s only one thing a team can do after a season like that; tear it down and start over — again. Craig Kimbrel, Shelby Miller, Alex Wood, Andrelton Simmons, Cameron Maybin and Christian Betancourt were all traded, and Mike Minor was non-tendered (thankfully). Replacing those players are Ender Inciarte and Erick Aybar (both acquired in trade) along with free agents Jhoulys Chacin (minor league contract), Tyler Flowers, Emilio Bonifacio, Gordon Beckham, Bud Norris, and a number of prospects for the future.
While things look bad, there is some reason for optimism. A number of players could potentially step up offensively and contribute to this anemic offense. Mind you it won’t be much, but enough to keep them out of last place — maybe even challenge the Marlins for third if the pitching can produce (a big if).
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