Five positives from the Atlanta Braves 2016 season

Freddie Freeman - Photo Credit - Keith Allison

Freddie Freeman – Photo Credit – Keith Allison

The Atlanta Braves have been dreadful this season. There is just no way around it at this point.

It was not that long ago (although it seems like forever) that the Braves were a 90-win team and counting on deep playoff runs.

In fact, from 2010-2013 they won 90+ games three different times. They could never get over the hump, which was the ultimate prize — a World Series victory — so they decided to dismantle their all-or-nothing team.

Out went Justin Upton, B.J. Upton (now he goes by Melvin Upton Jr.) Jason Heyward, Craig Kimbrel, Andrelton Simmons, Mike Minor, Brian McCann and Evan Gattis.

In came cast-offs Nick Markakis, Jeff Francoeur, Tyler Flowers, A.J. Pierzynski and Erick Aybar (he has recently been traded to the Detroit Tigers) along with some young guys that they want to groom themselves.

This team is currently 44-76 (worst in the majors) and 26 1/2 games behind the Washington Nationals so you may think it was all bad.

Well, yes it has been mostly bad but I found some things that Braves fans can smile about during these down times.

1. Freddie Freeman found his power

It had to be difficult for Freddie Freeman to watch all of his former teammates get traded and now he is stuck on a rebuilding team while he is in his prime. The numbers were not showing that he was in his prime, but that is mainly due to the fact that he had no protection to start the season.

When the team started 0-9 Freeman was batting .080 with only 1 solo HR. He finished the month of April with only 7 RBI and had only 8 during the month of May.

He has seemed to figure it out lately though, recording 41 RBI over the past three months. He has 24 HR’s on the season and he has somehow posted a career high slugging percentage of .543, which seemed impossible of him to do during his first two months.

His recent hot streak coincides with the next thing on this list.

2. The acquisition of Matt Kemp

Matt Kemp was a Braves fan growing up and it is a dream of his to play for his childhood team but I am sure he was not expecting to get traded to a last place team, considering that he was having a solid season and a half as a member of the San Diego Padres.

Kemp is only batting .222 as a Brave so far but his presence in the lineup is what is most important. They have acquired a franchise player moving forward and his presence behind Freeman will be the most vital towards Freeman’s success.

There is no coincidence that Freeman is batting .326 with 4 doubles, 6 HR’s and 14 RBI since Kemp made his Braves debut on August 2nd with Kemp hitting behind him.

Kemp may not be the same guy that finished second in NL MVP voting in 2011 but he is still coming off of an 100-RBI season in 2015 (his first SINCE 2011) and he is playing for the franchise that he grew up rooting for.

What other motivation do you need?

Dansby Swanson - Photo Credit - Arturo Pardavila III

Dansby Swanson – Photo Credit – Arturo Pardavila III

 

 

 

                                                                3. Traded Shelby Miller for Ender Inciarte and Dansby Swanson

Dansby Swanson made his Major League debut last night (he collected two hits by the way) and Shelby Miller was optioned to Triple-A earlier this season.

So Swanson — who was drafted #1 overall by the Arizona Diamondbacks just last year — is now playing in the majors, and Miller — who the D’Backs felt confident enough in to trade an emerging center fielder in Ender Inciarte and a first overall pick for — is now in the minors after posting a 7.14 ERA this season.

Miller had 17 losses last season but that was due to lack of run support. He posted a 3.02 ERA last year and he was even good enough to be named an All-Star.

Maybe it seemed like a fair trade to the D’Backs at the time.

Maybe they thought that they gave up too much but Miller would pitch like he did last season so it would even out. It did not even out.

The Braves may have found a center fielder of the future in Inciarte, maybe their shortstop of the future in Swanson and a solid starter in Aaron Blair.

All they had to give up was two current minor league pitchers — Miller and Gabe Speier.

4. Julio Teheran was named an All-Star for second time

The “ace” of the Braves young staff has only 3 wins on the season, but like Miller last season, it’s mainly due to run support. Lack of run support.

He has posted a 2.81 ERA this season, which is good for eighth best in the league.

He has not pitched in the majors in August yet due to a right lat strain but he expects to return this weekend and they expect him to finish the season on a strong note.

5. They played a game at Fort Bragg

Yes, they lost the game 5-2, to the Miami Marlins but they were apart of the first game EVER played on an active military base. It was a nationally televised game, and the Braves have not gotten alot of those type of games lately.

Playing a game at Fort Bragg, NC will be something that any player that was involved will never forget.

Khristian Peel



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