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Backing the Braves

The Atlanta Braves had recorded 14 straight NL East Division titles heading into last season.
They left me no reason to believe they wouldn't get number 15 in 2006 as the NL East has traditionally been one of the weakest divisions in baseball.
The New York Mets got off to a fast start and I thought the Phillies could hang around for a while, but both teams are notorious for choking down the stretch, and that's what I thought would ultimately happen.
However, the Mets went on to have their best season in quite some time and Philly just did survive a late push from Atlanta.
The Braves are one of the best coached teams in Major League Baseball and they are able to beat you a number of ways.
Their versatility, being able to play small ball or hit the long ball, has helped them continue their success while their pitching staff hasn't been quite as dominant as it was in the 90's.
With that said, I expect their starting pitching to be very solid this season.
In fact, the biggest reason the Braves have been the most dominant team in the National League for over a decade has been their consistent starting pitching.
They might not have quite the staff that they once had with Maddux, Glavine, and Smoltz leading the way, but Smoltz is still around to get the job done and Tim Hudson gives the Braves another dominant ace.
I also like Chuck James to have a breakout year.
Andruw Jones has been one of the best defensive center fielder's in baseball since he entered the league and in 2005 he showed that he can also swing a big bat as he tallied an unbelievable 51 homeruns.
He still slugged 41 homeruns and drove in 129 runs last season and in a free agent year, I expect him to reach the 50 homerun mark yet again.
Let's get right to it.
You can expect the 2007 Atlanta Braves to make their backers money.
Prior to last season, Braves backers had gained an impressive 57 units over the past 4 seasons.
Last season's struggles will undoubtedly have this team showing great value once again.
One thing to really keep an eye on is Atlanta's ability to destroy left handed pitching.
With a solid right handed hitting lineup led by Andruw Jones' newly found pop and Chipper Jones' ability to switch hit, the Braves will once again dominate left handed starting pitching just as they have the past 7 years.
They are especially good against lefties within their usually weak division.
The only exception to the rule would be when the Braves are facing interleague opponents as often times they don't put as much emphasis on these games and as a result they haven't dominated left handed pitching in the same way.
Atlanta will be better in 2007, and I wouldn't be surprised if they get back to second place in the East, but they will likely finish third once again behind the Mets and the Phillies as baseball's once weakest division continues to get stronger.


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