Will the Upton brothers be able to play together in the same outfield?
Sibling rivalry can bring out the very best of any competitor. It can also bring out the worst. With Justin and BJ Upton now on the Atlanta Braves it’s hard to tell which it will bring. If they are smart they will feed off of each other and focus on their individual games. If BJ starts swinging for the fences trying to hit a 475’ home run and show up his brother every at bat, it’s going to be a long season for him and his owners. If Justin tries to cover too much ground in the outfield it will cause major confusion and frustrate both players. Justin is the better fantasy option by far but look for BJ to have a nice increase in his RBI total. He is expected to bat in the middle of the order, maybe even behind Justin, which will only increase the value of both players.
Can Kris Medlen live up to the hype?
Coming into the 2013 season, it looks like Medlen is on everyone’s sleeper radar. He did a fantastic job last year after being converted to a starter. Medlen put up numbers worthy of being an ace; in his 12 starts he posted a 0.94 ERA and struck out over 80 batters, well on pace to over 200 over the course of a full season. He hasn’t been used as a starter his whole career but the fact that he threw 138 innings last year with no problems bodes well for 2013. He might not reach the 200 inning plateau this year but he has the ability to put up a low ERA and WHIP to go along with a solid strikeout rate. He may not be an ace but he can easily turn in to a viable number two in your fantasy rotation.
Can Andrelton Simmons produce hitting in the leadoff spot?
Hitting leadoff is no easy feat, especially when you are 23 with only 166 major league at-bats tied to your name. If Simmons can hold on to his spot at the top of the order for the entire season he can be very valuable. He is fast, makes contact, and will force pitchers to worry about him running thus leading to more fastballs for Jason Heyward and Justin Upton. Simmons reached base more than 35% of the time last year between AA and the majors and if he can keep getting on he will stay in the leadoff spot.
Will the Braves be able to survive if Brian McCann is out for an extended period of time?
Start Gerald Laird. They really don’t have any other options. No one in their minor league system is MLB ready and unfortunately the aging Laird is all they have. As of right now, McCann is expected to start the season on the DL and hopefully be back sometime towards the end of April. McCann is still young (29) so don’t expect this shoulder injury to end his career as a power hitting catcher but remember he isn’t the stud he once was. His batting average has gone down the past two years and saw a 40 point drop between 2011 and 2012. With all of the new power at the top of the order the Braves should miss him too much but they are much better when he is in the lineup.
Can Mike Minor put together a full season that resembles the second half of 2012?
Last year was a tale of two halves for Mike Minor. In the first half he had an ERA of nearly 6.00 and was giving up home runs left and right. The second half of the season was a completely different story. He posted an ERA of 2.16 with a WHIP of 0.87 and gave up 12 less home runs. Minor became aq completely different pitcher, keeping the ball down and throwing more strikes. His SO/BB ratio jumped up over two points and he was beginning to show everyone what his true potential is. Minor, 25, has a very high ceiling and if he continues to pitch anything like the way he did in the second half of last season he could possibly end up having the best year out of any Atlanta starter.