Resilient. That's the word that comes to mind when I think about the first two weeks of the Braves' season. This team can bounce back from anything. So far the Braves have had a humiliating defeat at the hands of the Padres -- perhaps the worst hitting team in baseball -- to the tune of 17-to-2, but bounced back to win the next two games and win the series. Then the Braves got no-hit by the Rockies ace, Ubaldo Jimenez, but bounced back to win the final game and win the series.
That's two series in a row where the Braves could have crawled into a shell and said, "we give up," but they didn't. They came back fighting, and they took the field the next day with the confidence of a team that had won the night before. This team last year tried to act like they did that, but more often they would crumble and be susceptible to prolonged team slumps -- especially in the first half of the season.
It still might take a couple more weeks for the Braves to fully gel as a team and find their stride, but it looks like they should do that this year much faster than they did last year, and overcoming the crushing defeats they've had recently and still winning the series will go a long way towards helping their confidence on and off the field.
They still need to find someone to get on base in the leadoff spot. I like Matt Diaz there, though his ability to take a walk can be suspect at times. He did tie for the team lead in stolen bases last year, so he's got some wheels. If while hitting leadoff this year he can put up numbers like he did for the season last year, then he'll do just fine.
Another aspect of this team that's changed in the early going is the clutch hitting has spread to more spots in the order. Last year it was mainly Brian McCann and Yunel Escobar, but this year add back Chipper Jones to that list and put a big check mark next to the best number-7 hitter in baseball, Jason Heyward. You can also put Martin Prado on that list. That's five guys who are pretty darn clutch and have shown that they can come through in big situations. When guys like that comprise a majority of your team's lineup good things are bound to happen.
Most of all I'm just impressed at how resilient this team has been. The way they've lost games, and the tough travel schedule they've had these past two weeks, and they're still out there fighting until the last batter. It just can't be said enough, but to come back from the defeats they've had and still compile a winning record is impressive.
(Note: This post should in no way influence your vote in the Fan Confidence Poll later today... right.)