The 2010 Atlanta Braves won the NL Wildcard only to lose in the first round of the divisional series to the eventual World Series Champion San Francisco Giants. Although the Braves played well against the Giants, costly errors and poor hitting by second baseman Brooks Conrad ended up costing the club the series.
To address this issue, the Braves traded Omar Infante and a few prospects to their NL East rival Florida Marlins in exchange for Dan Uggla. In addition to being a solid fielder, Uggla is the only second baseman in Major League history to hit 30 homeruns or more in four straight seasons.
Perhaps biggest asset for the Braves is the club’s collection of young talent, including 2010 rookie of the year runner-up Jason Heyward, starting pitchers Tommy Hanson and Mike Minor, and 2011 rookie of the year candidate Freddie Freeman.
While most baseball writers have anointed the Philadelphia Phillies and their all-star pitching staff as the lock to win the NL East, I believe that the Braves are a more complete team and will win the division.
Dan Uggla, George Sherrill
Billy Wagner, Melky Cabrerra, Matt Diaz, Omar Infante, Derrek Lee, Takashi Saito
Who to Target
Dan Uggla is the highest ranked Brave on our top 200 list and is the fourth ranked second baseman behind Cano, Utley and Pedroia. With the recent news of Chase Utley’s knee injury, I believe Uggla may be the safer option of the two. As mentioned above, Uggla has been the model of consistency by hitting 30 plus home runs in a record four straight seasons.
Brian McCann has become a mainstay at the top of fantasy baseball catcher rankings, averaging 24 home runs a year in his six year major league career. In addition to hitting for power, McCann has an excellent .283 career batting average.
Jason Heyward quickly made a name for himself by hitting a homerun in his first major league at bat. His hot start eventually fizzled out as he was hampered by injuries for most of the season. Now that he is healthy, I believe he is poised for an excellent season and will be a solid number two outfielder in all formats.
Although he is currently listed as the team’s number three starting pitcher, Tommy Hanson is the top pitcher to draft from a fantasy baseball perspective. He has the highest strikeout average in the rotation and has an excellent 3.16 career ERA through two seasons.
Despite his eerie resemblance to the kid from the movie About a Boy, Freddie Freeman is an excellent first baseman that should be included every sleeper cheat-sheet this spring. In 2010, Freeman batted an impressive.319 with 18 home runs and 87 RBI for AAA Gwinnett. In addition to his excellent hitting prowess, Freeman is also an accomplished fielder who may eventually win a gold glove. Former first baseman Derrek Lee’s off-season signing with the Orioles has opened the door for Freeman to step in as the team’s starting first baseman. Fantasy owners should take a late round flyer on Freeman, especially in keeper league formats.
Andrew Swanson is the founder and president of Kramerica Sports LLC, the home of free fantasy news, rankings and advice. In addition to his work as the featured writer for Kramerica Sports, Andrew has a weekly fantasy football segment on ESPN radio 101.7 The Team.. You may contrat Andrew through his website or Twitter @ KramericaSports
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