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MLB Atlanta Braves

Atlanta Braves’ 5 Most Criticized Players of Spring Training

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Atlanta Braves 5 Most Criticized Players in Spring Training

Atlanta Braves
Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

The Atlanta Braves entered last season with high expectations as they made a few key off-season moves, and they were poised to make a run at the World Series. The season did not end in a championship, but it was not a failure either. The Braves won their first National League Eastern Division title since 2005. Entering this season, the Braves have five players who are going to be criticized.

No. 5 - Evan Gattis

Evan Gattis
Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

No. 5 - Evan Gattis

Evan Gattis
Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

Evan Gattis burst onto the scene as one of the biggest surprises for not only the Braves, but the entire league. Gattis has the challenge of replacing All-Star Brian McCann full-time at catcher this season, and all eyes will be on him to see if he can be more than a one-hit wonder. Gattis has to prove that he can be an everyday catcher this season and get the job done just as well as McCann did.

No. 4 - Jason Heyward

No. 4 - Jason Heyward
Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports

No. 4 - Jason Heyward

No. 4 - Jason Heyward
Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports

Jason Heyward is still just 23 years old, but he already enters his fourth season in Atlanta this year. He had an outstanding rookie year, but has been up and down since then as he was plagued by injuries last year as he batted just .254 with 13 home runs. For the Braves to be a World Series contender Heyward has to play well and stay healthy.

No. 3 - Justin Upton

No. 3 - Justin Upton
Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

No. 3 - Justin Upton

No. 3 - Justin Upton
Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

Justin Upton was a huge addition to the Braves last season, and he got off to a hot start, but he struggled down the stretch with strikeouts. His season was not bad as he hit 27 home runs and batted .263, but he has to eliminate the strikeouts and become a most consistent and well-rounded hitter in 2014.

No. 2 - Dan Uggla

No. 2 - Dan Uggla
David Manning-USA TODAY Sports

No. 2 - Dan Uggla

No. 2 - Dan Uggla
David Manning-USA TODAY Sports

The only reason Dan Uggla is not No. 1 on this list is because everyone has pretty much criticized him as much as they can. Yet, with all of the criticism he has faced in Atlanta so far, Uggla will still be under a microscope again this year. Uggla hit a measly .179 last season and also recorded a career-high 171 strikeouts this season. Uggla’s time in Atlanta has been a waste of time and money, and he will be criticized heavily again this year.

No. 1 - B.J. Upton

No. 1 - B.J. Upton
Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

No. 1 - B.J. Upton

No. 1 - B.J. Upton
Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

B.J. Upton is easily going to be the most criticized player this spring and one to watch for moving forward. Before his season last year, I had never seen a player fall apart so much during one season like Upton did last year. Upton batted an amazing .184 with 151 strikeouts in just 126 games. B.J. produced nearly nothing for the team last year, and if he can play half as good as his contract pays him then maybe he will be back in 2015.