As we all remember, the Braves collapsed in the dog days of 2011. For 2012 most of the pieces are still in place to compete in 2012. One concern though is the starting rotation, which in the past has been their most solid foundation. Hanson is going back from a torn rotator cuff; Hudson with his back surgery may start the season on the DL. Their greatest asset is the absolutely shutdown back end of the bullpen with Venters and Kimbrel. Veteran leadership should take this team well into contention down the stretch. Come the trade deadline they should make a move for another bat because they have all the pitching in the minors to either bring up or trade away.
Jason Heyward OF
Following his rookie season he was a hyped top 10 fantasy outfielder going into 2011. Now this year he is off most people’s radar. Especially taking his BA last year near .220 through most of the season. Some of the problems he had last year were definitely due to his shoulder injury/numbness. Remember Chipper telling the sophomore he needed to play through the pain? I do, and his swing was affected dramatically. He had one of the highest pop out rates in the bigs. He now has been rested this off season, matured more, and work with new hitting coach Greg Walker a bonus. I expect more than just a bounce back season. Going as late as a 15th round pick he is a bargain. My projections are: 75/23/75/.255/12
Brian McCann C
I not saying pass on the best power hitting catcher in baseball. Well actually I am. He has been drafted as high as 31st overall at MDC, which absurd for a catcher with his ability. Catcher is a much deeper position than most think this year. Last week I wrote about elite catchers at the top, more than serviceable catchers mid tier and great prospects to gamble on. If you are in a single catcher format do not take McCann, or any catcher before the double digit rounds, there are many other options. Another aspect that most have not realized is McCann’s back up, Davis Ross would start on a majority of other MLB teams. I expect Ross to take away many ABs from McCann this year. Atlanta will want to keep him fresh for those oppressively hot days in Atlanta come summer. McCann only had 35 hits after the All-Star break and hit .204 down the stretch. Atlanta in the summer will zap the energy out of anyone.