Atlanta Braves Most Important Player 2014

Julion Teheran Braves Pitcher

Julio Teheran

The Atlanta Braves have some very good players that you could consider their most important player in 2014. Closer Craig Kimbrel, based on his career statistics, can very easily be considered a great player.  Other top candidates for Atlanta Braves most important player 2014, depending upon your criteria, include Andrelton Simmons, Freddie Freeman, Julio Teheran, Brandon Beachy and Kris Medlen.

We’re not talking most valuable player here, we are considering who is the most IMPORTANT Braves player in 2014,  My criteria is based on which player has the potential to bring an ingredient that was missing in 2013 and is needed in 2014 to win another division championship and take the team deep into the playoffs.

The ingredient the Braves need in 2014, that was missing in 2013, is a top of the rotation starter.  Every great team has one and nearly every World Series champion not only has one, they often have two or more.  Teams win championships without great hitting and they can get by with bullpen by committee.  But you must have that stud at the top of the rotation to get the expensive champagne flowing.

Braves GM Frank Wren attempted to acquire an established number one in the off-season.  Pitchers of that caliber come with a lofty price tag and Wren was not able to find the right deal.  Fortunately, the Braves have a player in their midst that has true number one potential.

Mike Minor and Kris Medlen are very good pitchers, but they are not guys who strike fear into the opponent and blow away opposing hitters.  Brandon Beachy, when healthy, has better stuff than Minor and Medlen, but in reality does not meet the true definition of a number one.

The guy who I think is the most important Atlanta Braves player in 2014, is Julio Teheran.  Teheran has the potential to be one of the best pitchers in baseball.  He’s not a nibbler who needs the umpire’s help to throw a great game.  He has the stuff to  blow away hitters and carry a team a long way in the playoffs.

Teheran’s fastball explodes into the strike zone and his breaking stuff can be electric.  Last season in early June, Teheran displayed his potential.  Featuring his fastball, the 22-year old Teheran came within four outs of pitching a no-hitter against the Pittsburgh Pirates.  Only a single by pinch-hitting journeyman Brandon Inge, with two outs in the eighth inning, kept Teheran from entering Braves history.  Teheran struck out 11 in the dominating performance.

The pride of Bolivar, Colombia had a very good rookie season in 2013, winning 14 games and losing only 8, in 185 innings pitched.  He compiled a very solid 3.20 ERA, and after a slow start in April, had a sub-3, ERA in May through August.  Teheran tired in September and wasn’t sharp in the playoffs.

The key for the wiry Teheran is to develop his physical maturity so he can stay strong throughout the 2014 season, including the playoffs.  If Teheran can take the next step, he could be in the lead car in October, riding down Peachtree Street in the ticker tape parade.

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About Jim Hart

Jim has covered the Atlanta Braves since 2008 for local and national broadcast news organizations. He also appears regularly talking Braves baseball on WCCP-FM in Clemson, South Carolina, and the ESPN Radio affiliate, 1420 Sports in St. Augustine, Florida.

Comments

  1. Wayne Canon says:

    So what you’re saying is that Teheran has the potential to be the Braves most ‘important’ player somewhere down the road. I could agree with that.
    I see Heyward was noticeably absent from your list. He is the Brave that usually wears the tag of “future superstar”. And I could agree with that also.
    To me, the most ‘important’ Brave, who has actually proven how important he really is falls to Kimbrel, with Freeman a distant second.
    My personal pick for future ‘most important Brave’ would be Beachy. When he is healthy and ‘on’ he is as nasty a pitcher as there is in baseball.

    • Beachy is a very good pitcher, but his “stuff” takes a backseat to Teheran, I’m hoping he is able to come all the way back from his arm injury and maximize his potential. The Braves seem to score about the same amount of runs no matter who they have in the line-up. At least that is how it has seemed over the years. Their offensive production usually ranges from average to above average without a lot of variance. So I don’t consider any of their everyday players in the running for “most important.” Even though Kimbrel is great, I don’t think you can compare a top of the rotation pitcher to a closer in a seven game series in relation to importance.

    • LameDuck says:

      Sorry, but your most important player isn’t a closer, regardless of how dominating he may be.

      • Mike Crowe says:

        A closer might pitch five to seven innings in a seven game postseason series and an ace starter twenty-one innings or better. Would you rather have Teheran go 3-0 with 24 innings pitched or Kimbrel with three saves in three innings. A closer doesn’t help you win by definition, in their usual role, they keep you from losing. A good starter can keep you in a game as long as he is on the mound. It’s his job to hold any lead, do damage control when behind, and eat up innings in the process. The closer’s job is not to blow the lead over three outs, and for that he gets a save, even if he has a three (or is it four) run lead. No comparison. Kimbrel is great and worth the pay extention for sure, but there are a couple others in the pen who could also close well if called upon. I’ll take an ace atop my rotation anyday over the best closer in the game.

  2. Mike Crowe says:

    I agree. Teheran is the Braves #1 starter IMO and has the makings of an ace, potentially. The Braves may not have a legit #1 yet but could by the Allstar break, and if Beachy can get back to where he left off and turns out to be the real deal then anything is possible for this team. Ace at the top is the missing link, and if the Braves organization is bent on raising their own rather than score a FA these days then Teheran is your best bet. He’s my MIP going into the season also.

    • Mike, Medlen has the second best ERA in the NL the past year and a half. Why do you think we discount him as an ace? Is it form over style?

      • Mike Crowe says:

        I’m aware of that and I’m still one of those that overlooks him too sometime. I believe he has a lifetime ERA under .300 to and some fifteen games over 500. But he still lacks the experience to be called an ace. He’s like 35 and 20 over five years, has won 15 games only once, only 61 games started over five years (never started more than twelve games in a season until last season), still relieves sometimes, isn’t flashy, has average stuff, and isn’t the tall power pitcher like Smoltz. He wins with smarts, command and savy, and is just one of those guys that flys under the radar. His day will come if he remains consistant. He’s also a guy I take for granted for some reason. I expect him to have a good game when he goes out, and he even reminds me of Greg Maddux a bit. He’s a good number two and a solid number three at this point I think. What do you think Jim? Medlen is one of my favorites on this team and has been since his arrival.

        • I’m biased about Medlen ’cause he is great with the media. Dave O’Brien gushes when he talks about Medlen and that is the reason why. I think he’s a great number three and a very good number two. You can even feel sorta good with him at number one during the regular season. It is the playoffs that concern me.

          • Mike Crowe says:

            Me too. The suits must have faith in the farm, Teheran, or there just wasn’t a number one FA available over the last couple of years at the right price. Power atop the rotation is still the thing in postseason I think. Even Maddux wasn’t the best in postseason. Smoltz was.This team has already gotten to postseason now it’s the next step and that’s why I like Teheran as the MIP.

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