The Atlanta Braves season record may not have been pretty, but that doesn’t mean the team didn’t show encouraging signs. Who are the bright spots on the 2016 Atlanta Braves roster?
The Atlanta Braves struggled in 2016 until the last couple of months of the season, to be anywhere close to the team they hoped to be. Still this season had some very encouraging signs from their prospects and players who reached or went beyond expectations.
Freddie Freeman is the first name that comes to mind when discussing a Braves’ player going beyond expectations. The big first baseman cemented himself as the Braves best hitter this season, and as one of the best hitters in the game.
He finished this season hitting above .300 and had an impressive thirty game hitting streak where at times it seemed as if he couldn’t miss a pitch. He set new career highs in on base percentage, home runs, doubles, triples, and hits. When you consider the talent level that Freeman had around him for the majority of this season his stats become even more impressive. Freddie Freeman is the undisputed best player on the team and the face of the franchise.
The only player that could eventually challenge Freeman for that role is young shortstop Dansby Swanson. Swanson has surprised fans and coaches this season coming up after struggling offensively in the minors and putting together a great run through just under 200 at bats.
Swanson looks every bit the number one pick he was hyped to be and his defense looks much better than a lot of scouts thought. He has power and hustles on every play despite playing on a team that is playing for next season already.
His attitude and playing ability fit this team and their franchise. Braves fans have to be excited to see what Swanson is capable of over a full season as they head into their new stadium into 2017.
The whole Braves outfield has looked great since August with Matt Kemp, Nick Markakis, and namely Ender Inciarte all getting on base and hitting the ball well. Kemp has provided a much needed bat in the middle of the order and arguably was the difference maker for this team down the stretch.
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Ender Inciarte was my personal favorite to watch this season on the team. Freddie Freeman is a close second but there is something especially energizing and exciting about the way that Inciarte plays defense, runs the bases, and works the count at the plate.
He isn’t on the field for personal stats or to hit homers, he is out there to do everything in his power to help give his team their best chance to win. Players like Inciarte are vastly underrated. The Atlanta Braves may have pulled off one of the best trades in the history of the franchise when they acquired Dansby Swanson and Ender Inciarte for Shelby Miller.
While there are many other names worth mentioning an article on over achieving players wouldn’t be complete without discussing the changes and improvements that Adonis Garcia has made this season.
He has gone from a platooning left field option, to the minor leagues, to now playing into the Braves future plans. He has proven himself to be a great option at third and shown great work ethic improving his defense to an average level and most importantly has become a much better hitter.
Overall the Atlanta Braves team may have been disappointing in their record but their players improved. They spent this season learning which players they could count on and who is capable of being a key piece for the team as they head into the new stadium for the 2017 season.