Originally written on The Victory Formation  |  Last updated 11/15/14

Twenty-twelve was probably a year the Atlanta Braves would like to forget. Their late season slide that seemed to contain a Whitman’s Sampler of ways to lose. We’ve seen the story. It opened a spot for St. Louis, who went on to win the whole damn thing. Oh, what could have been Atlanta. But that is the franchise in a nutshell. What does 2012 hold?

The onus on last year’s rough September shifted at camp when Chipper Jones announced that he’d be hanging his cleats this offseason. That lasted about 3-4 days and then Chipper shredded his knee, and will be out for a couple of months. Look for Martin Prado to play 3B in his absence. Prado is as utility as it gets, and while his bat is nowhere near a sexy as Chipper’s sounds, he should be able to put up similar numbers. Prado’s outfield duties (where he saw the majority of his playing time in 2011) will be handled by some combination of Eric Hinske, Matt Diaz, and Jose Constanza (All three together = one hell of an awful player). The biggest thing about a missing Chipper? The presence he brings to a lineup and clubhouse. It will be tough to replace it while he’s out.

Yeah, there is more than an aging Chipper Jones on this squad! Pfffft. This guys named Jason Heyward should really improve on his numbers from 2011. He’s so ripe, young, and athletic with an incredibly high upside that makes the sky the limit. Elsewhere, Freddie Freeman and Dan Uggla should both be better now that they have spent more time with the Braves. I really like Freeman, as long as Fredi Gonzalez doesn’t screw with the kid ala last September, he should be very good in the lineup and at first.

On the pitching side of things, Mike Minor has had a huge spring and looks poised to take the next step forward and could become one of the league’s best young lefty starters.  Tommy Hanson and Jair Jurrjens are both very good pitchers if they stay healthy… healthy being the key term. Brandon Beachy is very underrated and can really miss bats with his stuff, he just needs some help from the bullpen. Somehow he started 25 games last year, and finished with 10 decisions. Then there is the ever consistent Tim Hudson, who is like 207 years old and the only guy remaining from the Frat House in Oakland (oh, you say Barry Zito still pitches? I call that batting practice. HAHAHAHHAHAHAH). Julio Teheran and Randall Delgado have big upsides, but they are still so young it’s tough to completely count on them for this year.

The Marlins really spent some money this offseason, but in the garbage known as the AAAA National League, the Braves should still be one of the top teams. Prediction: 90-72. Wildcard. *******.

MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Michael Vick: Jameis Winston is the future of the NFL

Report: No NFL team is moving to Los Angeles in 2015

Report: 49ers looking for young, offensive mind as next coach

Sheldon Richardson: I'm on the same level as JJ Watt

Kendrick Perkins: Rajon Rondo wanted out of Boston

Report: Jim Harbaugh being encouraged to take Michigan job

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Three quarterbacks who could be traded this offseason

Wolves trade Corey Brewer to the Rockets

Yankees trade Prado to Marlins for Eovaldi in 5-player deal

Brandon Browner fined $8K for throwing Brandon Gibson to turf

Report: Sharper, NFLers called spiked drinks 'horny juice'

Rex Ryan: My wife could coach Tom Brady

Steve Alford: Kentucky is best team I've coached against

Peyton Siva jokes that Rick Pitino is in the mob

WATCH: Montrezl Harrell ejected for throwing punch

UNC wearing Jordan-era throwback uniforms

Brian Kelly: Justin Brent gets 'distracted,' is in my doghouse

Five free agent signings that should happen in 2015

Reporter asks Rajon Rondo awkward question about trade

Video: Swaggy P elbows Steven Adams in throat, gets ejected

Video: Grizzlies buy car for assistant who had his stolen

Video: LeBron takes pass to the face from Dion Waiters

New video of Ray Rice incident emerges

President Obama calls James Franco “James Flacco”

MLB News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.

Vick: Winston is the future of the NFL

No NFL team in LA next season?

UNC rocking Jordan-era throwbacks

Reporter asks Rondo awkward question

Three quarterbacks who could be traded this offseason

Jon Lester and the Cubs

Report: NFL players used 'horny juice'

Top 10 worst NBA related commercials of all-time

Phelps gets probation for DUI

NFL coaches on hot seat in Week 16

The Roy Williams-Terrell Owens horse collar turns 10

Most underpaid NFL players in 2014

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
Help
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.