MLB Atlanta Braves

Atlanta Braves’ Top 5 Breakout Players

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Atlanta Braves: Top 5 Breakout Players

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When the 2014 season begins, each team will have players that perform just as the organization believed it would. There will be players who underachieve and then there will be players who play better than they have in their careers. For the Atlanta Braves, they are hoping that they have plenty of guys that can perform better than they have in the past.

The team has the players like Freddie Freeman and Andrelton Simmons who have the potential to perform well every season that they play, and those two have definitely done that. But last season, they saw Chris Johnson hit for a career-high average and almost won a batting title. They also saw Mike Minor take over as the “ace” of the rotation and give the team 200-plus innings while striking out 181 batters.

However, the Braves have seen their share of disappointments over the past few seasons. Dan Uggla hasn’t been able to hit like he did as a member of the Florida Marlins and B.J. Upton was terrible in his first season with Atlanta. Brandon Beachy went down with an elbow injury in 2012 and Tyler Pastornicky suffered a torn ACL last year.

The team, as all do, just hope that the positives in players overshadow the players that may not perform as well as the organization hoped they would. With a team that is run as well as the Braves are, they tend to see more players succeed above what they may have been projected to be. 2014 should be no different for the Braves with ups and downs, but here are the ones that will be trending up.

Steven Whitaker is an Atlanta Braves writer for Follow him on Twitter @CoachStevenWhit, "Like" him on Facebook or add him to your circles on Google

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5. Brandon Beachy

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Beachy was once an ace of the staff for the first half of the 2012 season. After Tommy John surgery, he won’t be the same pitcher as he was before, but he will perform beyond what has been projected for him. Steamer projections see him going 10-10 with a 4.01 ERA. Look for Beachy to win 12-14 games and maybe keep his ERA down around the 3.70 area.

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4. Evan Gattis

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It doesn't seem like Gattis should be on this list due to his performance in 2013. However, you should expect him to put it together a little better this season. Gattis can hit 25 home runs while hitting .260 when he is playing full time. If he can do that, the Braves will consider putting him behind the plate a “win”.

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3. Alex Wood

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Wood had a pretty good 2013 season. Chances are he’ll be on the Braves’ roster from day one this year. He will get spot starts and come from the bullpen with his funky left-handed delivery. Look for him to keep an ERA around 3.20 and be a high strikeout pitcher when he’s out there.

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2. B.J. Upton

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Well, this is hoping for the best. Upton needs to be better than he was in 2013 and he knows it. Projected to hit around .225 and 13 home runs this season, he will look to prove those people wrong. For the Braves to consider him a success, he may hit .240 and 20 home runs. As long as he gets on base more than last season and can use his speed, he can be a “breakout” player.

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1. Julio Teheran

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He’s projected by Steamer to go 11-10 with a 3.48 ERA and 140 strikeouts. In 2013, he won 14 games and struck out 170 batters while finishing fifth in the Rookie of the Year voting. If people didn't know he was here by the end of last season, they will in 2014. He will win 15 games this year and while I agree with the ERA around 3.40 or 3.50, he will get a lot closer to 175 strikeouts than he is projected. Let’s just hope he doesn't hit a sophomore slump.