Because this worked so well last year, here's my second annual assessment of the gentlemen of the Braves. It's just six this year, mainly because I had too many for a "top five" and didn't feel like putting in the extra effort to carry the list out to ten. Besides, it's either this or another post about moving McCann to shortstop. You'll thank me later.
6. TIM HUDSON (SP - 3-1, 3.03 ERA)
Huddy falls from last year's fourth place, not because he's degraded in any way, but because of the ascension of Beachy and Kimbrel into higher slots. His much-anticipated return this season hasn't disappointed. He's a ground ball specialist, and his rate this season is remarkably close to his career average. He's got confidence. He's got swagger. He's got my vote.
5. BRANDON BEACHY (SP - 5-2, 1.77 ERA)
Vaulting from number nine last year to fifth this year is a testament to the power of Brandon Beachy. The Indiana native is something like a stereotypical '50s superhero, mild-mannered actuary by day, devious strikeout artist by night. His face is genetically programmed to display "unflappable." Plus, I like his eyebrows. Those are some honest eyebrows. He walks up to you and asks you to write a check for 500 bucks, you do it. Because of those eyebrows.
4. CRAIG KIMBREL (RP - 13 SV, 2.25 ERA)
Ah, Craiggers. A fellow son of the Yellowhammer State, Kimbrel's been his usual self this season, which is to say outstanding. Major points for being a redhead, too. A cursory check of various statutes tells me being as handsome as Kimbrel is considered a misdemeanor in five states. Also, he struck you out while you were reading this paragraph.
3. DAVID ROSS (C - .270/.341/.514)
A lovable goofball if ever there were one. In the offseason, Ross added talk show host to his CV, right below singer, dancer and excellent backup catcher. He and McCann make a great duo. Carson and McMahon. Paar and Downs. O'Brien and Richter. Meet the next king of late night.
2. DAN UGGLA (IF - .262/.361/.415)
Though the judges deducted points for his tobacco habit, Danny retains his second-place spot on the list. He's still eminently huggable, as Freddie and Chipper know firsthand. May America's resolve be as solid and reassuring as Dan Uggla's butt. If the Axis powers had seen that weapon, the war would have been over in weeks.
1. BRIAN McCANN (C - .254/.333/.423)
Damn those eyes. Brian McCann should be elected Prime Minister of Georgia. The state and the country. His would be a land of peace and prosperity, where hits are currency and the only crime is trying to steal a base while he's on patrol. Science struggles to explain his beauty; mortal sportwriters struggle to give him enough credit. My Brian, I think I'll keep him.
RECIPIENT OF THE INAUGURAL CHIPPER JONES AWARD FOR MERIT: CHIPPER JONES (IF - .307/.372/.485)
He may not be my cup of tea, but Chopper's right. The team owes Mr. Jones a mountain of gratitude for his years of service to the franchise. His dependability, hard-work and dedication are unparalleled, and Braves fans aren't the only one who feel that way. Witness the farewell tour being thrown by teams all over the country as the Braves come to town. As Samuel Pepys once wrote, "His face isn't that great, but he has an okay body."