Sitting in last place in the National League East at 17 games below .500 at the All-Star Break, the Braves have expectedly relied on their anchors -- Freddie Freeman and Julio Teheran -- as they try to find their footing. Taking stock of the Braves -- position by position -- with half of 2016 in the books. -- Cory McCartney
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A.J. Pierzynski is only the fourth catcher in history with 400 doubles and the 10th at the position with 2,000 hits, both milestones he hit this season. It's been a rough year overall, though, as he has a -19.5 offensive WAR and is hitting .205 after a .300 average in 2015. Tyler Flowers has caught two of 37 would-be-base-stealers (making him tied for seventh-most in steals allowed), but has been an upgrade at the plate with seven homers and nine doubles. Unfortunately, he's out six-plus weeks with a broken hand. Triple-A catcher Anthony Recker is expected to be promoted to take his place. Photos: USA TODAY Sports
Freddie Freeman had an All-Star case with the fifth-best WAR at the position (2.6) and is sixth at 132 wRC+ and leads the team in homers (16), and batting average (.286). He's also been strong with the glove in saving three runs despite a -3.8 defensive WAR (a metric that has never liked Freeman). The only thing Freeman can be penalized for is an average that sat at .163 back in late April.
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Seven different players have manned the position, with the Braves ranking 18th in collective OPS (.743) and are 29th in defensive WAR (-4.1) and 30th in DRS (minus-9) here. Jace Peterson has the most starts at 35, and since his return from a Triple-A sabbatical, he's hitting .320/.388/.495 with six double and four HRs. This group's overall numbers aren't strong, but a revitalized Peterson has been a steady improvement.
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Erick Aybar has been the main piece here -- with 64 starts -- and as of June 16, he was still hitting under .200. The 32-year-old still has a .212 average, but he's been trending upward and is at .240 over the last 22 games. Defensively, the position has been an issue at times as the Braves are 26th in DRS (minus-7) and are 24th (minus-1.1) in defensive WAR, with Aybar responsible for minus-4 DRS and minus-2.2 dWAR.
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Chase d'Arnaud (14 starts) and Gordon Beckham (12) have been factors here, but it's been largely Adonis Garcia at third with 56 games. He's done exactly what he was expected to do: provide some power with five homers and the good comes with the bad defensively. The advanced metrics though -- he has minus-5 DRS and a minus-3.4 dWAR -- don't seem to tell the whole story as Garcia has been a much steadier presence than a year ago.
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While Freeman is the lynchpin of this offense, it's the outfielders who have been the biggest cogs defensively. The Braves are fourth in the majors with 19 DRS among their outfielders as Ender Inciarte has six, Mallex Smith (who is out with a thumb injury and has given way to Jeff Francoeur) five and Nick Markakis four. This group also provides Atlanta's leaders in RBI and doubles (Markakis with 47 and 22, respectively) and steals (Smith with 14). Photos: USA TODAY Sports
Anchored by the team's All-Star in Julio Teheran and his 2.96 ERA and 0.969 WHIP that's fourth in MLB, this ultra-young group has shown flashes. That's included Mike Foltynewicz's 10-strikeout game, Matt Wisler's eight-inning gem vs. the Mets, but consistency in both makeup (12 players have started a game) and performance (Teheran and Wisler are the only players in the NL's top 50 in quality starts) are badly needed. Photos: USA TODAY Sports
Arodys Vizcaino was making his own All-Star bid with a 0.87 ERA through his first 11 appearances. His last 25 games, though, have included a 3.04 ERA and three losses and a blown save. The arrival of flamethrower Mauricio Cabrera could have an impact on Vizcaino's role and his place on the team as the trade deadline hits. Atlanta may have found something in left-hander Dario Alvarez, who has a 0.93 ERA in 10 games, and Jim Johnson (1.04 ERA since June 3) and Chris Withrow (0.79 the last month) have rebounded. Photos: USA TODAY Sports