2010 Atlanta Braves Baseball Preview
It was 2005 that the Atlanta Braves (86- 76) last took the N.L. East. In two of the last four seasons, they have been competitive within their division but have fallen short due to a lack of depth. This season the Braves are armed with a strong arsenal of arms that will keep them in contention deep into the season for the division crown and the wild card.
Number one starter Tim Hudson (2-1, 3.61 ERA, 30 SO) is coming off an injury shortened season. The veteran throws an 89 to 92-mph fastball with a power sink. He features five pitches that he can throw at will. Health is a concern. The next two guys in the rotation, Tommy Hanson (11-4, 2.89 ERA, 116 SO) and Jair Jurrjens (14-10, 2.60 ERA, 152 SO) are quality pitchers. Hanson is an aggressive hurler with a fine inside fastball, while Jurrjens varies the speed of his fastball, locating it on both sides of the plate.
Fourth starter Derek Lowe (15-10, 4.67 ERA, 111 SO) may be in decline but he’s still got an effective sinking fastball and late breaking slider. If he can put up similar numbers to those he has the past three seasons, he’ll be a plus. Youngster Kenshin Kawakami (7-12, 3.86 ERA, 105 SO) is a solid fifth starter who focuses on control.
Lefty Bill Wagner, who comes to the Atlanta as a free agent from the Red Sox, had elbow surgery in 2008 that took him out of much of the 2009 season. He’s said to be healthy and if that’s the case then the Braves will have a hard throwing closer who can dominate hitters. Former closer Takashi Saito (3-3, 2.43 ERA, 52 SO) is a setup man who throws strikes and keeps the ball in the park.
The offense will look to Chipper Jones (.264 BA, 18 HR, 71 RBI) and Troy Glaus (.172 BA, 0 HR, 2 RBI) to pound homers and drive in runs. Both are injury concerns. Backstop Brian McCann (.281 BA, 21 HR, 94 RBI) offers an accomplished bat and behind the plate skills that are solid. Shortstop Yule Escobar (.299 BA, 14 HR, 76 RBI), second baseman Martin Prado (.307 BA, 11 HR, 49 RBI) and left fielder Matt Diaz (.313 BA, 13 HR, 58 RBI) can all hit for average. Escobar and Prado are solid position players. Leadoff batter Nate McLouth (.256 BA, 20 HR, 70 RBI) has a quick bat and decent speed. He plays a fine center field.
GM Frank Wren has defined himself as a front office guy who is aggressive and determined to make certain moves. He’s strong willed and pulls no punches, which means right or wrong he’s going to go for it. That attitude has resulted in a deep starting rotation that is, in some quarters, overpaid. Still, he has created a competitive team. Manager Bobby Cox is looking for one more post-season. If anyone deserves it, he does. What will the Braves do without him?
This Atlanta club could finish second and earn a wild card bid.
However, they need to find a healthy closer and the Braves must
be able to produce runs. It will help if Chipper Jones can have
one more career year and newcomer Troy Glaus can stay healthy
and productive. Manager Cox knows baseball inside out and that
gives this team a decided advantage.
For more info on the Braves check out the MLB official page for Atlanta.