On May 5, in the second game of the series against the St. Louis Cardinals, the Atlanta Braves snapped their seven-game losing streak with a 2 – 1 victory. Looking to start a new winning streak, hopes of that were lost after the Cardinals knocked Mike Minor around for a 7 – 1 victory.
This is not new: Just last week, the Miami Marlins had fun tearing apart the Braves’ pitchers to get the sweep. Despite this, the Braves still have the lowest ERA in baseball, which is great. What is not great is their lack of runs scored.
There are two things make the Braves contenders: Pitching and home runs. As I said, the Braves have the lowest ERA in baseball at 2.77 and there are very few pitchers on the Braves’ roster that cannot pitch consecutive shutout innings. And starting the season with just two of your five starters returning with Kris Medlen out until 2015 along with Tim Hudson and Paul Maholm gone, that’s impressive. They are also blessed with a mostly reliable bullpen.
The Braves have a power-hitting team and currently rank fourth in the National League with 34 home runs. However, the Braves counter this with hardly any hits or runs.
Right now the Braves are the 5th- worst hitting team in the MLB. They rank even lower in runs, with the 2nd fewest runs scored in the MLB. Sure, the Braves’ pitchers keep runs from coming in, but the Braves’ bats need to back this up by getting some hits. Some hitters on their lineup can either perform much better, or just are not worth the time, and here are a few notables.
Jason Heyward has been the Braves’ leadoff man for a long time, but is a lifetime .256 hitter and is only hitting .209 this season. The leadoff man needs to be consistent and get on base, and while Heyward’s numbers in the minors are exceptional, his numbers in the MLB do not stack. Get a new leadoff hitter and put Heyward lower in the batting order.
Dan Uggla is both ineffective as a hitter and ineffective as a fielder. Uggla has committed more errors than any Brave this season and does not have the batting numbers to back it up. At this point, Ramiro Pena should replace Uggla at second, and while Pena only appeared in 50 games last year, his 2013 numbers look promising with a .278 average in 97 at-bats. I would definitely start Pena at second more to see how it pans out. Besides, would anyone be worse than Uggla at this point?
Now this is a weird case. B.J. Upton, unlike Uggla, is a good fielder. He has his speed, which helps him greatly in center field and stealing a base here and there – if he gets on base. And that is his kiss of death: he just cannot hit.
The Braves brought Chipper Jones to help B.J. with his batting for a bit, and all B.J. does is strike out. The Braves need more backup in center field, and with Jordon Schafer nursing his finger, someone needs to step up. The question is who?
Obviously the weight does not go to just these three, but with one being an ineffective leadoff man and the other two being instant outs, some changes have to be made. And with the Washington Nationals and the Miami Marlins now ahead in the NL East and both being among the top five most hitting teams in the whole National League, the Braves have to come in with bats blazing.