Rolling into the second half with a four game lead over the New York Mets, the Atlanta Braves find themselves back in familiar territory. Which Braves are most responsible for their team's success? Read on to find out.
1. Martin Prado
Previous Ranking - 2
Prado leads the majors in hits and has been the only Atlanta hitter that has been locked in from opening day. Simply put he's having a beastly season - we're talking borderline MVP numbers. Prado hit another moonshot today and is also among the league leaders with 25 doubles. As if this isn't enough, he plays the game the way it's supposed to be player - there is never a lack of hustle, determination or focus from Prado - and those are the type of players everyone wants to root for.
2. Tim Hudson
Previous Ranking - 3
Remember when the Braves traded for that ace pitcher from the Oakland Athletics? This is the guy that we traded for - Hudson wasn't the consistent hurler Braves fans expected in his first four years, but he's making up for lost time now. He's clearly established himself as the staff ace and leads the team in innings pitched, wins and quality starts.
3. Billy Wagner
Previous Ranking - 4
I think we need to start a grass roots campaign designed to keep Wagner in Atlanta for another year of two - we could start small, maybe some billboards and those planes with the banners that you can't really read but stare at anyway. Guys with this kind of dominant stuff just don't walk away from the game very often - he's been Bobby's flaming sword of retribution at the end of the bullpen. Wags is striking out 13.5 per 9 innings and often times barely looks challenged as he steps on the opposing offenses jugular.
4. Jonny Venters
Previous Ranking - 5
Is there a more enjoyable pitcher to watch on the Braves team than Mr. Venters? He's come out of nowhere to bedazzle National League bats with a combination of power fastballs and diving sinkers. His numbers are nearly as dominant at Billy Wagner's and the two of them have formed an explosive late inning duo.
5. Kris Medlen
Previous Ranking - 7
Medlen just keeps doing his thing - bullpen or rotation - the guy just seems to give a solid effort every time out. He's gone at least six innings in each of his last five starts and the Braves won each of those outings.
6. Brian McCann
Previous Ranking - NR
Fresh off leading the NL to an All-Star game victory, McCann looks to take off in the second half. His bat started coming around before the break and we all know what kind of damage he can do when he's locked in. His .380 OBP and 26 extra base hits shouldn't be overlooked.
7. Tommy Hanson
Previous Ranking - 8
The young gun has bounced back nicely from two terrible outings, even with some inconsistency Hanson is on pace to throw 200 innings and win 16 games. He's generating impressive strikeout numbers with 9.15 K/9.
8. Troy Glaus
Previous Ranking - 9
After a torrid month and half of play, Glaus limped into the All-Star break with a balky knee and a cold bat. Still, the contributions from his right-handed stick can't be ignored and he's one of the biggest reasons that the Braves have played themselves into first place.
9. Peter Moylan
Previous Ranking - NR
Workhorse - Moylan's elbow gets pumped up more often than any other Braves reliever and more often than not he delivers. Stunningly, the side-winding Aussie is on pace to appear in nearly 90 games this season, which isn't terribly different than his workload in previous years.