June 5, 2013; Atlanta, GA, USA; Atlanta Braves right fielder Jason Heyward (22) makes a running catch in the fifth inning against the Pittsburgh Pirates at Turner Field. Mandatory Credit: Daniel Shirey-USA TODAY Sports

ATL AM: Atlanta Sports News 6/13

What’s up everybody? Welcome to another edition of ATL AM where we take a look at some of the latest and greatest links dealing with Atlanta sports.

We also like to do a poll to gauge your opinions on popular topics. Today’s poll is on the Braves starting rotation.

Which starting pitcher has been the worst this year in your opinion?

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MLB–Mark Bowman talks briefly about the recent success BJ Upton has been having. Upton also talks about beefing up a bit more which is kind of interesting:

“I might need to get with the chef to see if I can get some more weight put on me or something,” Upton said. “I hit the one [Monday] pretty well. The one I hit [Tuesday] really well and it didn’t go. That’s just how it goes.”

Actually, things have recently been going much better for Upton. He entered Wednesday having hit .258 with two home runs and a .894 OPS in his previous 10 games. During this stretch, he raised his batting average from .145 to .163.

“I’m comfortable up there right now,” Upton said. “I said earlier this year at some point [that it was] going to turn around, and it’s been getting better. Right now, I like where it’s at. If I can keep it where it’s at, I should be good.”

TalkingChop–Franklin Robin discusses whether the Braves have the best defense in baseball or not. Fortunately, he didn’t delve into “defensive metrics” at all which means I actually believed what he said. For those of you who don’t know, I don’t really buy into defensive metrics:

Coming into this season, it was very difficult to figure out just how good theBraves‘ defense would be. On the one hand, they had two players who were inarguably the best at their position, in Andrelton Simmons and Jason Heyward. And they had BJ Upton, who was also near the top. Then they have a lot of guys who are somewhere between average (Freddie Freeman) and terrible (Chris Johnson). How exactly this was going to shake out was really anybody’s guess. Further, Jason Heyward was injured for a large stretch of the season, meaning we got to see Evan Gattis play the outfield a decent amount.

Now that Heyward has been back from injury for a decent amount of time, I thought we could take this opportunity to re-examine the Braves’ defense.

The first and foremost thing you look for in a team defense is simply converting contact in the field of play into outs. We can primarily see this simply through the lens of BABIP allowed. The league average for BABIP allowed is .299. We find the Braves are 2nd in MLB to the Pirates at .279 (the Pirates are at .273). In a slightly oversimplified way of thinking, this means that the Braves are essentially turning .300 hitters into .280 hitters, with defense alone. Given the sample size (1638 PA), it’s difficult to say that this is due to luck. Whereas a hitter by himself might run into bad BABIP luck, for a defense, over a sample that large, it’s a fairly reliable indicator of the true aggregate ability level of the team.

CBSSports.com–Pete Prisco talks about what Steven Jackson has been doing to try and get the most out of his NFL Career. It’s something you don’t normally hear of NFL players doing to get better–going gluten free:

So Jackson is doing something about it. He recently decided to try a gluten-free diet. He is bigger than he’s been at 245 pounds, with his huge arms making him look more like a defensive end than a running back. He does plan to get down to 237 for camp, but for now he is doing everything he can to ready for 30.

“The gluten-free helps with inflammation,” Jackson said. “It’s something I researched. I talked to a lot of the veteran guys and they said the thing that impacted them most late in their careers wasn’t the ability to keep playing, but the ability to get over the hits and play the next week. That’s why I am changing some things. I know my metabolism slows down when I turn 30. I won’t get over the aches and pains as fast.”

The Falcons signed him in large part because he’s a double threat. He can get the tough yards in the fourth quarter, something they need more of to burn clock, but he will also make them less predictable on early downs.

Tags: Atlanta Braves Atlanta Falcons

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