MLB 2013 Preview: Atlanta Braves

It's going to be a close race between the Braves and Nationals. Photo: Jason Heyward, B.J. Upton (center), and Justin Upton/AP David J. Phillip

LOS ANGELES, March 19, 2013 — The Atlanta Braves finished the 2012 regular season with a 94-68 record before losing to the St. Louis Cardinals in the wild card game. This year they will again be competing with the Washington Nationals for the National League East pennant with the Phillies nipping at their heels.

The Atlanta Braves made some major changes to their outfield over the winter by bringing in the Brothers Upton via trade for Justin and signing B.J. Together with 2012 Gold Glove winner, Jason Heyward, they should form one of the best outfields in baseball.

Top prospect Julio Teheran will take the fifth spot in the rotation while the Braves wait for Brandon Beachy to recover from Tommy John surgery. Even without Beachy, Atlanta has an excellent rotation that should keep the Braves in most games and lockdown bullpen that should help them keep their leads late in games.

The J-Hey Kid, Jason Heyward/AP John Bazemore

Projected payroll: $82,765,583

Notable Players Out: CF Michael Bourn, LF Martin Prado, 3B Chipper Jones, C David Ross, RHP Tommy Hanson

Notable Players In: LF Justin Upton, CF B.J. Upton, C Gerald Laird, 1B Chris Johnson, OF Jordan Schafer, RHP Jordan Walden, LHP Paul Maholm

Prospect Watch: C Christian Bethancourt and LHP Sean Gilmartin

Highlight Hitter: RF Jason Heyward (ZiPS 2013 Projections: .265/.342/.472 24 HR/81 R/72 RBI/16 SB)

Highlight Pitcher: RHP Kris Medlen (ZiPS 2013 Projection: 10-6, 3.35 ERA, 7.01 K/9, 145 IP)

Projected Lineup: C Brian McCann, 1B Freddie Freeman, 2B Dan Uggla, 3B Juan Francisco, SS Andrelton Simmons, LF Justin Upton, CF B.J. Upton, RF Jason Heyward

Projected Rotation: RHP Tim Hudson, RHP Kris Medlen, LHP Mike Minor, LHP Paul Maholm, RHP Julio Teheren

Projected Closer: RHP Craig Kimbrel

Manager: Fredi González

Projected 2013 Finish in NL East: 1. TBA  2. Atlanta Braves   3. Philadelphia Phillies  4. New York Mets  5. Miami Marlins

Kevin J. Wells writes about Major League Baseball and punk rock music.  Follow him on Twitter @WellsOnBaseball

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Kevin J Wells

Kevin J. Wells was born and raised in the Los Angeles area in a town called Montrose.  He currently plays guitar for and is a founding member of the Los Angeles punk rock band Emmer Effer.  He has worked in a number of different career fields including Behavioral Therapy, Commodities, Insurance, and most recently a food cart in Portland, OR. Kevin has been both a sports and entertainment columnist and editor for The Washington Times Communities since January 2013.

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