The 2013 Atlanta Braves won 96 games, Nintey-six wins is nothing to scoff at, but their fans fell the disappointment.
Record: 96-66 (First place in N.L. East)
What went right?
1. Freddie Freeman: The 24-year old first baseman continues to improve year after year. Freeman smashed 23 homers and knocked in 109 runs. With a .319 batting average, Freeman has established himself as one the most well-rounded hitters in the National League. He finished 5th in the MVP voting and also made his first All-Star Game appearance. Freeman is arbitration-eligible this offseason and is projected to receive $4.9 million in 2014. Freeman will be counted on by the Braves to lead them in the seasons to come and Freeman isn’t free agent eligible until 2017.
2. Evan Gattis: While he only started 90 games in 2013, Gattis made a huge impact on the Braves’ season. With the departure of Brian McCann to the New York Yankees, Gattis will most certainly get more starts at catcher in 2014. The 26-year old rookie hit 21 homers and knocked in 61 for the division-winning Braves. Gattis did strikeout a lot, but so did most of the Atlanta lineup.
3. Pitching: The Atlanta pitching staff bailed out the inconsistent lineup on multiple occasions in 2013. The staff recorded a league-leading ERA of 3.18 and the bullpen was remarkable also. Starters, Mike Minor, Kris Medlen, Julio Teheran, and Paul Maholm anchored a solid rotation who all made at least 26 starts. Tim Hudson, who only made 21 starts, was granted his free agency in October and has since signed with the San Francisco Giants.
The bullpen was once again one of the league’s best. Closer Craig Kimbrel saved 50 games while Luis Avilan, Anthony Varvaro, and David Carpenter did a great job in getting the game to their star closer.
What went wrong?
1. B.J. Upton: This offseason acquisition could not have done any worse. A .184 batting average, 9 homers, and 26 RBI in 446 plate appearances is arguably one of the worst offensive performances in a season ever. The Braves highest paid player, $13.45 million in 2013 and $14.45 million in 2014, appears to one of the worst acquisitions ever. There is not much else to say about him.
2. Dan Uggla: What happened to Dan Uggla? His numbers have fallen every season since his career year in 2010 with Florida where he hit .287 with 33 homers and 109 RBI. This season Uggla hit rock bottom: .179 average, 55 RBI, and a .671 OPS. In fact, Uggla lost his starting second baseman job in the playoffs against the Los Angeles Dodgers. Uggla has two years left on his five-year, $62 million contract and with each season that goes by, his value continues to plummet.
3. Inconsistent Lineup: The Braves came into 2013 with high expectations for their offense following the acquisitions of the Upton brothers. However, from top to bottom the offense could not be counted on to provide regular production. The Braves led the league with 1384 strikeouts and only hit .249 as a team (8th in the league). A league-leading 181 homers was not enough and while the Braves 96 wins were enough to win the East, in October the Braves offensive woes caught up with them.
Overall Team Performance
Nintey-six wins is nothing to scoff at, but Braves fans will certainly say the season was a disappointment. A good pitching staff, an unpredictable offense, and questionable front office moves doomed the Braves to an early exit from the postseasons. One could expect that the Braves could have easily won more than 100 games if just a couple things had been different.
As mentioned before the Braves were unable to hang on to their star catcher, Brian McCann. However, with Gattis still on the roster, finding a replacement is not a top priority.
The Braves are trying to move Uggla, but it is going to be tough. Obviously, Uggla is more affordable than Robinson Cano, but of course, Cano has shown to be much more productive than Uggla. The Braves would probably have to pay at least a quarter of Uggla’s salary. While the Braves have several second basemen in their farm system, signing a more established one will likely be a goal.
Looking Ahead to 2014
The Braves still have a lot of talent on their team and while the Phillies and Nationals are not going to roll over and play dead in 2014, the division is still the Braves to win. Another 90+ win season is likely.