Bill Shanks

Braves on pace for 84 wins

The Braves are now at the halfway point in the 2012 season after the loss to the Cubs on Wednesday. They stand at 42-39, six games back of the first place Washington Nationals in the NL East and three games back in the NL Wildcard race.

This puts the Braves on pace for a final record of 84-78, so obviously they have to play better in the second half of the season for a shot in the postseason.

Let’s take a look at what the Braves players are on pace for, by simply multiplying the current stats by two.

Michael Bourn - .310 BA – 14 HR – 64 RBI – 46 SB - .359 OBP

Comment: He’s arguably the team’s MVP for the first half of the season, and Bourn is getting ready to get a big check from someone. The Braves are still hopeful they can get him to re-sign, but his price tag is increasing as he continues to play well.

Martin Prado - .322 BA – 10 HR – 70 RBI – 18 SB - .384 OBP

Comment: Quite a bounce back season for Prado, who struggled last year with injuries and the staph infection. He’s giving the Braves reason to wonder about a long-term contract for him as well, but they first have to figure out where he might play next season – left field or third base.

Jason Heyward - .270 BA – 26 HR – 78 RBI – 22 SB - .340 OBP

Comment: After a horrible May, Heyward rebounded with a strong June to get back on track. The Braves need him to be consistent in the second half to finish with those stats. It might help if he’s left alone in one spot in the batting order, instead of being bounced around.

Chipper Jones - .317 BA – 12 HR – 66 RBI – 92 games played - .392 OBP

Comment: Well we all know if Jones is in the lineup, he can still hit. So the question will remain: How much will he be able to play in the second half of the season? Jones is getting near the end of his career, so he’s going to want to play as much as possible. But can he survive a tough, hot summer?

Freddie Freeman - .256 BA – 20 HR – 94 RBI - .312 OBP

Comment: The batting average has taken a hit, and Freeman’s injuries and eye issues have not helped. So he’s got to be healthy in the second half and get the average and OBP up. Defensively, he’s still very good at first base.

Dan Uggla - .229 BA – 22 HR – 86 RBI - .359 OBP

Comment: Since June 1, Uggla is hitting only .150. Since his four-hit game on June 5, Uggla is hitting only .111. So he’s fallen back to his struggles of the first half of last season. The Braves must have him get on track, as he did last July after the All-Star Break, or they are going to struggle offensively.

Brian McCann - .225 BA – 18 HR – 70 RBI - .294 OBP

Comment: You don’t have to tell McCann how tough his first half has been. He’s better than this, and he’ll want to prove it after staying home during the All-Star Break for the first time since he came up in 2005. Like Uggla, McCann must have a strong second half.

Andrelton Simmons - .311 BA – 6 HR – 28 RBI – 2 SB

Comment: Obviously, Simmons has been up only one month, so his numbers are likely to be even better. Simmons has already made so much of a difference in the field that his offense has just been gravy. But he’s proving he’s more than just a defensive whiz.

And now for the pitchers…

Tommy Hanson – 18-10 – 3.70 ERA – 34 GS – 199.2

Comment: He’s slowly becoming the ace of this pitching staff. The Braves just need him to stay healthy, and those numbers are very realistic.

Tim Hudson – 12-8 – 3.87 ERA – 24 GS

Comment: Hudson has done OK since missing the first month of the season, but there has been some inconsistency that has worried the Braves. It’s put his future in Atlanta past this year in jeopardy.

Randall Delgado – 8-18 – 4.52 ERA – 32 GS

Comment: He’s done better than the record indicates, but Delgado has gotten awful run support from the Atlanta offense. The Braves still need more, so he’s pitching for his life every time out.

Mike Minor – 8-12 – 6.20 ERA – 30 GS

Comment: This may be the biggest disappointment of the first half, as the Braves believed Minor was ready to bust out and be successful. Like Delgado, Minor is auditioning for his Braves career with each start.

Craig Kimbrel – 1.50 ERA – 60 Games – 100 K in 60 IP - 46 SVS

Comment: The most impressive part of this stat line is the decrease in games pitched from last year, which should keep Kimbrel fresher in September. He’s the best closer in the NL.

 

 

Listen to “The Bill Shanks Show” from 3-6 p.m. weekdays on WPLA Fox Sports 1670 AM in Macon and online at www.foxsports1670.com.  Follow Bill on twitter @BillShanks and email him at thebillshanksshow@yahoo.com.

 

 

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