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Atlanta Braves: Who are they, and where are they going?

The Atlanta Braves entered Tuesday night 35-35. They are the definition of average. To this point, Atlanta has too many good performers to completely crater in the standings, but not enough punch to make a run at the National League East.

For most teams, that would be a massive disappointment, especially for a franchise that won what felt like 56 consecutive division titles under former manager Bobby Cox. As a 26-year-old, it is still weird to watch the Major League Baseball postseason and not see Turner Field with the tomahawk chop breaking out every inning.

This year, the Braves have to be thrilled with a .500 record. Coming out of spring training, most thought Atlanta would at least lose 90 games, finishing a distant fourth place only ahead of the woeful and disturbingly-bad Philadelphia Phillies. While that could still happen, it appears the Braves are going to keep interest going for at least a few more months before fading down the stretch.

Ultimately, Atlanta is not a team that can compete for anything more than respect. Why? The pitching. Only the San Diego Padres, Colorado Rockies, Milwaukee Brewers and Philles have allowed more runs in the National League. All of those teams are at the bottom of their respective divisions except for San Diego, which is fourth in the NL West. The Braves have a middling rotation and a poor bullpen, one that has held the team back from a winning record.

In the starting staff, the leader is unquestionably Shelby Miller. Miller, who was acquired from the St. Louis Cardinals in exchange for outfielder Jason Heyward this offseason, has been fantastic. Without a doubt, Miller will be in the All-Star game with a 1.99 ERA and 1.05 WHIP, despite only a 5-3 record. The only knock on Miller is his control, which shows in 28 walks against 65 strikeouts.

Beyond Miller, the rotation is average. Alex Wood has a 3.40 ERA but that hides his impending issues. Wood has an ugly 1.42 WHIP and only seven quality starts in 13 chances. At some point, the roof is caving on. Additionally, Juliop Teheran has been a tire fire. Teheran was supposed to be the next great ace for the Braves, but has turned into a back-of-the-rotation starter at best. In 2015, Teheran has a 4.69 ERA and a -0.3 Wins Above Replacement.

Offensively, the lineup is solid. The main man is first baseman Freddie Freeman, who is hitting .299 with 12 homers and 41 RBI, leading the team in all categories. Outfielder Nick Markakis is also playing well with a .293 average, .386 on-base percentage and 16 doubles.

Yet, the power is insanely lacking with the Braves accounting for exactly 41 home runs all year, dead last in the major leagues.

In summation, Atlanta is going to become an afterthought after the All-Star break. Still, give the Braves credit for keeping this boat floating for so long.

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