FanPost

Looking shallow, mid, and deep at the season thus far.

Catchers:

Shallow - Evan Gattis has clearly won the starting job at 2 (for the Mac-less time being) by killing the ball. In 9 games he's hitting .324 with 4 HRs (off Halladay, Strasburg, Sanabia and Leblanc) and 10 RBIs.

Mid - For anyone who really appreciates how difficult it is to hit major league pitching, and further understands how good Strasburg's stuff is, seeing Gattis hit his 426 shot over the bullpen in Washington was a thing of beauty. You're just not supposed to hit a 96 mph heater at shoulder level at all. To hit it out of the park is certainly out of the question.

Deep - Looking deep at all the things Gattis was expected to do (and not do) when he came up, I'm incredibly impressed with his handling of the pitchers. Everyone preached that you couldn't expect too much since he hadn't faced major league pitchers, but more than that we were warned that he was going to be a defensive liability. So far, the Braves have not allowed more than 2 runs in any game El Oso Blanco started behind the plate, he's gotten rave reviews from Braves hurlers, and he's caught 3 shutouts. Small sample size or not, you couldn't ask the guy to do any more than he's done so far at the plate or behind it.


Corner infielders:

Shallow - Freddie Freeman was off to a hot start before he got hurt. He could be turning into one of the NL's best first basemen at a still young age.

Mid - I have to admit, I wasn't happy when I got the text message (sitting in church) saying FF was going to the DL, and thought 8-4 without him would have been amazing... A best case scenario type record. Happily, a little over a week later they're only only one win away from reaching 8 wins without him.

Deep - The Braves wisely had 2 guys tasked with trying to replace a franchise legend at third base. Rather than having one guy handle all the pressure of being "the guy after Chipper" they had two pretty evenly matched players only battling to beat out Chris Johnson/Juan Francisco. Nobody compares them to Chipper, they only compare them to each other, and that's worked out fantastically. Neither are trying to do too much, and that environment has resulted in Johnson and Francisco starting the season off 14-42 with 2 homers and 6 RBIs while playing third (not including Johnson's numbers at first base). Ramiro Pena has also homered while playing third base.


Middle infielders:

Shallow - A disappointing season so far on the surface for Andrelton Simmons and Dan Uggla, since they've combined to hit .215 through 12 games.

Mid - It's past time for even the most stubborn optimist like me to drastically reduce production expectations from Uggla. Last season broke a 5 year streak of 30 HRs and 80 RBIs from Uggs, and at 33 the time for that level of production may be gone. But he can still be a productive player, because he gets on base. Despite hitting 5th and 6th this year he's second on the team in runs scored (J. Upton is first). By not expecting him to drive in runs and accept the production he does provide, he becomes a much less frustrating player.

Deep - Maybe it's just me, but I would never sit Andrelton Simmons based on his production at the plate. The guy is just too good a fielder to take his glove off the field. If he hits .240 this season, he'll still be one of the most important pieces of the ballclub's success based purely on the runs he saves by playing the best defense in baseball at shortstop.


Outfielders:

Shallow - Sweet mercy, Justin Upton is on a tear. When you have a start that only Eddie Mathews and Dale Murphy can match, you're locked in.

Mid - BJ and Heyward have hit for averages that would be disappointing if you added them together. BJ has been much better hitting 1st than he has been hitting 5th (all of his hits have been from leadoff spot), but their difficulties getting on have kept Justin's RBI totals down.

Deep - Jason Heyward is about to break out. Despite his 2 for 11 series in Washington, the encouraging sign for me was 3 balls hit at least 380 feet to center field. He put 11 balls in play in the series, with 6 being pulled to the right field third, and 5 hit to CF or LF. Jason is always best when he hits line drives all over the field, and he's getting very close to being the hitter he's expected to be. It's also important to note that he hasn't struck out since April 7th.

Pitchers:

Shallow - The Braves lead MLB in ERA by more than half a run.

Mid - How good have the Braves been? Eric O'Flaherty has a pretty darn good 2.70 ERA. That ERA is good for 3rd worst among all pitchers who have appeared for the Braves this season. Five guys have pitched at least 4 scoreless innings.

Deep - 9 of the Braves 22 earned runs allowed were conceded by rookie starter Julio Teheran, who did not allow a hit in his last 4 innings pitched against the Nationals.

TL;DR synapsis: The Braves are really good right now.

This FanPost does not express the views or opinions of Talking Chop.

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