When looking at the successes that the Atlanta Braves enjoyed in 2013, it is easy to pick out the starting rotation and the awesome work by the bullpen. Jason Heyward had a great middle part of the season when the Braves took off and left the Washington Nationals in the dust. All of this is true but it forgets a key component to the success the Braves had in 2013; Chris Johnson. This season has not been as good for Johnson until this last month and the Braves need him.
Even with the team still searching for the right mix in the starting line-up, things are going to be a lot better with a hot-hitting Johnson in the batting order. When he is hitting over .300 like he has for the month of June, Johnson can hit well anywhere. He is capable in the four through six hole easily and could see success elsewhere. Home runs and RBI are good but not critical for the role that Johnson plays.
He keeps the inning going, puts good at-bats on any pitcher and is a very good clutch hitter when he is on. That is the way he has been this last couple of weeks and for most of the month of June. With the addition of Tommy La Stella regaining his momentum and a heating up Justin Upton and Heyward, this team could be difficult to beat if they put games together like they did in the double header sweep of the Philadelphia Phillies on Saturday.
That is especially true of how they played in game one offensively and all around good play from pitching and defense in game two. Add to that mix steady pitching from the bullpen and most of the five starters and things get better. With the improved hitting of Johnson to complete the offensive attack, this team will be tough for even the Nats to beat.