FOXSportsSouth.com checks in with play-by-play announcer Chip Caray to discuss the latest surrounding the Braves.
FOXSPORTSSOUTH.COM: During Thursday’s game you mentioned Justin Upton and the National League MVP race. Do you believe he’s not getting the attention he deserves?
CHIP CARAY: I think that’s part of it. I think that we all look at the individual numbers and we don’t look at what a guy means to a team.
Justin’s been there virtually every day for the ball club and he’s been a much more consistent performer offensively for the Braves this year than he was last year. He had great April and Augusts last year and he’s had more of a consistent run this year.
But yeah, I think he’s putting up good numbers, he’s anchoring the lineup and he’s the guy that nobody wants to pitch to right now. We’re seeing him step up in these big games and when the Braves offensively need him the most.
That’s what an MVP does. He anchors the lineup, he drives in big runs, he hits home runs, he plays good defense and he helps his club potentially get to the playoffs.
Justin’s done all those things and I think his case is helped, honestly, by the fact that there really isn’t one guy that has jumped out in front from an offensively standpoint in our league. The Marlins’ Giancarlo Stanton is probably the closest guy. He has more homers and a couple more RBI, but the Braves are ahead of the Marlins in the standings.
This might be a year when a pitcher wins the MVP and if that’s the case I don’t see anybody beating the Dodgers’ Clayton Kershaw.
I think Justin’s got as good a shot as anybody and we’ll see this last six weeks if he can keep rolling along just as he is now.
FSS.COM: As hot as Upton has been, the Braves now have six regulars hitting over .270. Has the offense turned the corner or is this just one of those rare periods where everything is clicking?
CC: The hopeful person says that they’ve finally figured it out and are going to keep doing it.
The old saying that if you ignore the past you’re condemned to repeat it is worth thinking about here. It’s a very streak team, and while there are flashes that they really have clicked for an extended period of time, then for whatever reason they go into a funk.
I’d like to say it’s a product of them figuring it out and playing with a sense of urgency, but that means that they haven’t been playing with a sense of urgency all year, which isn’t the case. It just seems that this group is very much in sync and when they go bad they all go bad at the same time and when they get hot they all get hot at the same time.
Is it a product of who they’re playing and when they’re playing them? Maybe. Is it a product of the games are starting to dwindle down and we’re getting through the dog days and we’re starting to cinch it up and get after it? Maybe. Is it that these guys are really good players and they’re figuring things out? I think that has a lot to do with it as well.
But whatever the reason or the motivation, I’m sure Braves fans are more than happy to see it. I know I am and hopefully it continues.
FSS.COM: Since his move to the starting lineup Phil Gosselin is hitting .321. Do you believe manager Fredi Gonzalez is just riding the hot hand at second base or is this the start of a platoon at the position with Tommy La Stella?
CC: I don’t know if there’s going to be a platoon.
I think that Fredi has the ability now to use two players that can be very useful players and you don’t really have to platoon with La Stella because it hits lefties so well. That’s an advantage I think he has over Gosselin, who bats right-handed.
I think if you’re going to give Phil an advantage, it’s his versatility defensively that gives him a leg up on Tommy.
This is an evaluation time for a manager as well. A lot of teams are bringing up young players to find out what they can do. Rosters will expand in September and offer more flexibility for late-game situations, but I think the Braves need to find out what they have.
Both guys had terrific years in the minor leagues and both have done a good job here at the big-league level and the only way to find out what a guy can do is to play him and I applaud Fredi for getting both of those guys in there and trying to split the playing time as evenly as they can.