Originally posted on The Outside Corner  |  Last updated 2/21/13
What else can baseball fans do in January but dream of October? In You May Say I'm a Dreamer, the Outside Corner staff will imagine the route to a World Series in 2013 title for all 30 teams. The Braves couldn't win a World Series to say goodbye to Bobby Cox, and they couldn't win a World Series to say goodbye to Chipper Jones. But the new era of Braves baseball, the Upton era, has begun with a championship. Atlanta was carried in 2013 by their outfield of Justin Upton, BJ Upton, and Jason Heyward. Heyward played the best of the three, winning the NL MVP award after bashing 28 homers, stealing 26 bases, winning his second Gold Glove, and posting a .931 OPS on the season for the Braves. The Upton brothers complemented Heyward perfectly, as BJ stole 43 bases and hit 22 homers and Justin hit 34 homers and stole 14 bases. Atlanta's lineup was also fueled by a resurgent Dan Uggla (37 homers) and an emerging Freddie Freeman (.871 OPS and 25 homers). The starting rotation, an Atlanta institution for years, wasn't nearly as good as it had been in the past. But due to a lights out bullpen, the Braves didn't need a dominant performance from their starter every night. Kris Medlen led the rotation with a 3.05 ERA in 189 innings, while Tim Hudson, Paul Maholm, and Mike Minor all performed admirably most of the time behind Medlen. Rookie Julio Teheran was dominant in 20 starts and 114 innings, pitching to a 2.76 ERA before being shut down for the stretch drive and replaced by a fresh Brandon Beachy. In Atlanta's bullpen, Craig Kimbrel built upon a historic 2012 season and started carving out his niche as one of the most dominant relievers of all-time. Over 65 innings, Kimbrel struck out an absurd 120 hitters, falling just shy of his record 16.66 batters per nine innings last season. However, he did manage to lower his ERA to 0.96 in 2013, further setting the bar higher for himself. His main setup men, Jordan Walden and Jonny Venters, each struck out ten batters per nine innings with fastballs that sat at 95 over the course of the season. Against the Braves late game trio, the best course of action was to just stick your bat out there and hope that someone misplayed the ball if you made contact. The Braves finally returned to the top of the NL East in 2013, winning the division by two games over the Nationals. Atlanta faced the Cardinals in the NLDS, and returned the favor from a year ago, knocking the Cardinals out of the playoffs in four games. In the NLCS, the Braves and Nationals squared off, and the NL East champions won a thrilling seven game series. Finally, in the World Series, the Braves marched into Toronto and beat up the Blue Jays over five games, defeating the team that beat them in the 1992 Fall Classic and bringing a championship home to Atlanta. Braves on TOC End of Season Postmortem 2013 Season Preview You May Say I'm a Dreamer 2013 Burning Question (12:45 PM) This Is My Nightmare (2:00 PM) X-Factor (3:15 PM) Top Ten Prospects (4:30 PM) [follow]
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