Hotlanta OF: Hey – U and U!
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Tuesday February 26th, 2013
Bernie Olshansky (Baseball Writer): Follow @BernieOlshansky
After the signings and trade this winter, Atlanta Braves fans have a lot to be excited about. The Braves made a big impact by signing B.J. Upton and trading for his brother, Justin. Both young outfielders have tremendous skill and will undoubtedly make an impact on the National League East. The Braves got an early jump on the Free Agent market by signing B.J. Upton early in the winter. The main reason for the B.J. Upton signing was to replace Michael Bourn in Center Field.
Bourn became a Free Agent after 2012 and wound up with the Cleveland Indians. The Braves strengthened their outfield even further with the acquisition of B.J.’s brother, Justin, in a trade with the Arizona Diamondbacks that meant sending utility-man Martin Prado.
Jason Heyward 2012 Highlights Mature Lyrics so Parental Guidance is Advised:
As many General Managers and high-ranking executives of any club say: a pennant cannot be won in December. With this said, the Braves are still a favorite in the somewhat weak NL East. The Phillies blew up the team last season after getting off to a rough start, trading Hunter Pence to the Giants and Shane Victorino to the Dodgers. The Marlins had a disaster year and traded every big signing they made plus Hanley Ramirez, and the Mets were disappointing. The Nationals came out of the woodwork and had a great year and most likely will serve as the Braves’ only competition in the East.
If it should come down to the Braves and the Nationals toward the end of the season, the extra Wild Card will come into play. It is a very real scenario that both the Braves and Nationals will make the playoffs. The main reason for such high expectations of the Braves is their star-studded outfield. The Upton brothers and Jason Heyward will combine to be one of the best outfields in the league. Heyward has been up and down since finishing second to Buster Posey as NL Rookie Of The Year in 2010, but if he stays healthy in 2013, he should have no problem hitting 20 or more HR and driving in 70-plus RBI. If Heyward can do this, the Braves will be in good shape.
Justin Upton is coming off of a tough year with the Diamondbacks. All throughout the season, there was speculation as to whether or not he would be traded. Diamondbacks brass continued to deny rumors of him being shipped to the Pirates or elsewhere. Upton made it through the season with the D-Backs and was shockingly traded to the Braves. In 2012, Justin hit .280 with 17 HR, 67 RBI and 18 SB —a far cry from 2011, in which he hit .289 – with 31 HR 88 RBI, and 21 SB. High expectations were held for Justin in 2012 after he finished fourth in voting for MVP in 2011. I see 2013 as a rebound season for Justin, especially with his brother B.J. in the lineup.
B.J. Upton has been just like Heyward in his previous seasons — up and down. Since 2009, B.J. has hit for a consistently low average— below .250 in every season since. Strangely, in 2007 — his first full season — B.J. hit .300. One would expect an upward trend in Batting Average. Instead the trend was opposite. B.J. Upton and Braves fans hope that a change in scenery will reverse this trend and Upton will have a 2007-like season in 2013.
With such a powerful lineup, all three Braves Outfielders will not be as pressured to produce as if there was a weaker lineup. The team will not suffer as much as another club would if one of the three outfielders goes into a slump.
I see the Braves as a playoff team in 2013 due to the great moves by GM Frank Wren. Without the Upton brothers, I could see the Braves having a tough time reaching the playoffs. But, with this added boost in the lineup, fans should have nothing to worry about.
(*The views and opinions expressed in this report are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of mlbreports.com*)
Today’s feature was prepared by our Baseball Writer Bernie Olshansky. We highly encourage you to leave your comments and feedback at the bottom of the page and share in the discussion with our readers. You can also follow Bernie on Twitter. Follow @BernieOlshansky
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Posted on February 26, 2013, in MLB Player Profiles, MLB Teams: Articles and Analysis, The Rest: Everything Baseball and tagged @bernieolshansky, arizona diamondbacks, Atlanta Braves, baseball, bernie olshansky, bj upton, cleveland indians, dmx, frank wren, hunter pence, jason heyward, justin upton, la dodgers, martin prado, miami marlins, michael bourn, mlb, mlbmemes, NL east, offseason, outfield, party-up, pirates, shane victorino. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.