Preseason Prediction: 2nd in NL East
Regular Season Outcome: 2nd in NL East, NL Wild Card
The 2010 season featured many highs and lows for the Braves. They had a ton of late inning victories,
many of which ended in walk-offs. After a nine-game losing streak early in the year, the team got hot
and launched itself into first place for much of the summer. Off-season acquisition Troy Glaus had a
month or two of good baseball in him, but was otherwise unspectacular. Midseason injuries to Kris
Medlen, Jason Heyward and Chipper Jones slowed the team down, and eventually they were passed by
the Phillies around when Martin Prado landed on the DL.
Late season acquisition Derrek Lee played well and Derek Lowe finally pitched up to his huge contract in
September. With a strong pitching staff, the Braves were able to clinch the NL Wild Card on the final day
of the season, making the playoffs in Bobby Cox’s final season at the helm. Although they weren’t able
to keep up with the Phillies, the Braves put up more of a fight than most expected.
In the playoffs, the Braves played the Giants as well as anyone. Had it not been for a horrendous call
at second base on a stolen base attempt by Buster Posey and a terrible defensive game from Brooks
Conrad, the Braves might have gotten a chance to send Bobby Cox out on top.
It’s hard to pick a single high point for the Braves in 2010. They had a number of walk-off wins, strong
individual performances from Martin Prado and Tim Hudson and made the Playoffs to send Bobby Cox
out in style.
While making the playoffs may have been more of an accomplishment, the Braves moment of the year
came opening day when Jason Heyward stepped up to the plate for the first time. Already a legend
for his car-damaging homeruns in Spring Training, Heyward quickly worked a 2-0 count from Cubs
Opening Day starter Carlos Zambrano. On the first swing of his Major League career, Heyward deposited
a ball into the right field stands, giving the Braves a three run lead and adding to his legend. Despite it
happening over half a year ago, every Braves fan remembers hearing “Swing and a drive, belted right.
Welcome to the Show!” and jumping in celebration.
A nine-game losing streak to close out April was the Braves’ lowest point as a team. Individually, Nate McLouth proved the biggest disappointment for the Braves.
Acquired midway through the 2009 season, McLouth had one of the worst seasons of any major league player, hitting just .190 in 242 at-bats. Only pitcher Kenshin Kawakami came close to McLouth’s
awfulness, going 1-10 with a 5.15 ERA before spending the majority of the second half rotting away in the bullpen or down in AAA.
The Braves should be a playoff contender in both 2011 and the foreseeable future. Freddie Freeman is
set to join Jason Heyward at the Major League level, and the pair should develop into one of the more
feared middle of the lineup combo’s in the league. Dan Uggla, who was acquired from the Marlins
earlier this offseason will give the Braves a much needed power boost while Heyward and Freeman
continue to develop.
But the Braves’ future success will revolve around its pitching staff. In 2010, the Braves allowed the third
fewest runs in the National League and will look to get even better in 2011. Cy Young candidate Tim
Hudson and veteran Derek Lowe will provide experience. Young guns Tommy Hanson and Jair Jurrjens
will look to continue developing into aces. Jonny Venters, Craig Kimbrel, Mike Minor and Brandon
Beachy will look to build on solid debut seasons.
Julio Teheran, who has the potential to be better than any of the guys on the Major League staff, could
get called up at some point in 2011 if things go according to plan. With guys like Randall Delgado and
Arodys Vizcaino following in the minors, the Braves should have a terrific pitching staff for years to
With a solid pitching staff and improved offense, the Braves will look to challenge the Phillies for the
division and should be the Wild Card favorites in 2011.
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