KFFL answers important fantasy baseball questions about each Major League Baseball team as spring training approaches. What must fantasy baseball players know about the Atlanta Braves?
With the brothers Upton in town, what's the potential of this lineup?
Well, Turner Field's wind chill stands to increase. (Hint: oodles of strikeouts.) The Bravos ranked seventh in the bigs last year, far above the eighth-place squad, and they'll probably move closer to the top. A decrease in productive outs casts a shadow over any slate, but the penalties, at least for fantasy players, should ease up thanks to their elite trio of mash-and-dash bats. Fredi Gonzalez has plenty of permutations for this lineup.
Medlen with markets
You'll get a productive homers-steals combination from both B.J. Upton and Justin Upton. The elder bro will contribute more on the swipes side, as well as punchouts; he's an ideal complement if you build up batting average with three players before him in mixed leagues.
Justin ... well, his 2012 cost many players, but accentuate the positives - in other words, the pace of his six-homer run in the final month-plus last year, when it looked like his thumb was healed. His cume line, which reflects that he suffered while playing through the malady, might scare others away.
Their new domicile isn't kind to right-handed power, but that chiefly applies to those who need immense help. Per ESPN's Home Run Tracker, all of Justin's 2012 homers would've cleared the Turner Field dimensions anyway. Only one of B.J.'s didn't surmount the virtual fences.
Justin was a bit more dependent on his home digs, and some might fear this move will hurt him. It's a small sample size, and he hit only one homer during it, but the 67 plate appearances he's had in Atlanta registered a .293 BA and a .871 OPS. It's not as if he's going to PETCO Park.
Their presence, of course, secures the potential of the other swatters, notably two heart hitters that ooze of a breakout. Well, Jason Heyward already has arrived, sort of, but these acquisitions cement his ludicrous counting-category ceiling. Freddie Freeman, the likely cleanup hitter, has to be drooling over his new cast-mates.
Dan Uggla was whiffing before it was cool in The A, but if he falls to middle infielder territory, where one's domination of a single category can lift your squad, you're more willing to forgive him.
Brian McCann (shoulder) should remain on the productivity periphery regarding the impact of the new arrivals. He probably won't start the season on time, but even if his power doesn't come back immediately and batting-eye woes persist, he'll be a decent two-catcher speculation if you have a backup plan(s).
Will Andrelton Simmons settle into an advantageous spot? The 23-year-old's proximity to the top of the order will go a long way in determining his mixed relevance, especially since his skills, while intriguing, remain incomplete.
Though stuck in a hot corner platoon with the streaky Chris D. Johnson, at least likely seven-hole clubber Juan Francisco is on the majority side. When he connects, he connects: plenty of liners and titanic power potential. Contact problems will restrict his upward mobility without outlandish luck, but when you're scrounging for bench-filling thump, bold his name. He could pelt the bleachers 30 times in full-time work.
How will Kris Medlen follow his brilliant 2012 run?
About Tim Heaney
Tim's work has been featured by USA Today/Sports Weekly, among numerous outlets, and recognized as a finalist in the Fantasy Sports Writers Association awards. The Boston University alum, who competes in the prestigious LABR and Tout Wars, has won numerous industry leagues in both baseball and football.
He appears frequently, including every Sunday, on Sirius XM Fantasy Sports Radio, as well as every Wednesday on 1570 AM WNST in Baltimore.
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