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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