ATLANTA — With March comes a national infatuation with brackets. That much is clear.
But as the NCAA tournament kicks off, baseball still lurks right around the corner–and the Atlanta Braves’ and their explosive offense are tearing up Grapefruit League pitching. So the Chopcast team (Zach Dillard, Jay Clemons and Cory McCartney) thought to combine the two infatuations into one by creating a Braves Bracket.
The premise is simple: Piece together a bracket to whittle down the team’s MVP candidates for the 2013 season until just player is left standing. Instead of using directional monikers for the regions, the bracket is broken down into four groups: Starting Pitchers, Starting Lineup, Bullpen and Bench players. Here’s how the top four contenders shake out:
Starters: Kris Medlen (1-seed), Tim Hudson (2), Mike Minor (3), Julio Teheran (4)
Bullpen: Craig Kimbrel (1), Jonny Venters (2), Eric O’Flaherty (3), Jordan Walden (4)
Bench: Chris Johnson/Juan Francisco (1), Gerald Laird (2), fifth and final bench spot (3), Reed Johnson (4)
From there, the Madness unfolds. Here are the highlights:
— If the Braves were to be thrown into another one-game Wild Card today, which starter would manager Fredi Gonzalez hand the ball to? Would it be Medlen again, or would Hudson (or a healthy Brandon Beachy) get the nod?
— How good can Teheran be in his first full major league season?
— Is an Upton brother the most valuable piece to the Braves lineup or could incumbants Jason Heyward and Freddie Freeman steal the spotlight?
— Craig Kimbrel is the best reliever in baseball. So, truthfully, is there any reason to even play out the Bullpen region?
— As spring training winds down, the Bench region holds some of the most intrigue around. Will the third base platoon provide the most valuable player off the bench, or could another newcomer (cough, Laird, cough) prove his mettle?