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MLB Atlanta Braves

Opening Day 2014: Atlanta Braves Season Outlook

Opening Day 2014: Atlanta Braves Season Outlook

Evan Gattis
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The Braves were bounced in the NLDS once again last season and hope that after locking up several key players long term they can advance even further in 2014. With all of the talent they have on their roster, that certainly isn't out of the question. Here's a look at how their roster figures to shake out and fare in the upcoming season.

Top 5 Hitters

Freddie Freeman
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Top 5 Hitters

Freddie Freeman
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1. 1B Freddie Freeman
2. OF Jason Heyward
3. OF Justin Upton
4. 3B Chris Johnson
5. C Evan Gattis

Even though they lost catcher Brian McCann from the middle of this order, it's still very formidable. Freeman looks like an early MVP favorite and Upton is capable of getting hot at any time. It will be interesting to see if Johnson can duplicate his career year from 2013.

Top 5 Pitchers

Julio Teheran
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Top 5 Pitchers

Julio Teheran
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1. Julio Teheran
2. Craig Kimbrel
3. Ervin Santana
4. Alex Wood
5. Freddy Garcia

Teheran was locked up long term as the team sees him developing into an ace. Kimbrel is probably the best closer in baseball and is extremely consistent. Santana helps out their injury depleted starting rotation, and Wood looks to take the next step in his progression this season.

Key Newcomers

Ervin Santana
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Key Newcomers

Ervin Santana
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1. Ervin Santana
2. Gavin Floyd

The Braves didn't make a whole lot of moves this offseason, but they did bring in Santana who will greatly help their starting rotation that is depleted by injuries. One of those injured players is Floyd, who could be a solid back-end starter when healthy.

Top 5 Prospects

Christian Bethancourt
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Top 5 Prospects

Christian Bethancourt
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1. RHP Lucas Sims
2. C Christian Bethancourt
3. RHP J.R. Graham
4. RHP Jason Hursh
5. Mauricio Cabrera

Clearly, the Atlanta farm system is full of pitching talent. Perhaps if certain guys in the rotation can't return from injury, some of them will be forced into major league duty more quickly than initially expected. Bethancourt is also expected to be a stud behind the dish and could be the team's catcher in the future.

Final Record/Divisional Prediction

Justin Upton
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Final Record/Divisional Prediction

Justin Upton
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Final Record: 94-68
Division Standing: 1st Place

While the Phillies improved and the Nationals are fully healthy, the Braves are still the most talented team in this division from top to bottom. Lingering injuries in the rotation could really hurt them, but as long as a couple guys step in nicely, Atlanta is looking at yet another NL East division crown.