The Atlanta Braves finished the first half of the 2012 season in second place in the N.L. East, 4 games behind the Nationals with a 46-39 record. Here is a look at the players who had the biggest impacts for the Braves in the first half of the season, in my opinion:
Team MVP: Michael Bourn & Craig Kimbrel - I never like to pick co-MVP’s but I couldn’t help it in this case. 29-year old lefty swinging CF Michael Bourn has been electric both at the plate and in the field for the Braves. He has played in 85 games for the Braves so far this year and he is 111 of 357 (.311 avg, .817 OPS) with 60 runs scored, 7 homers, 32 RBIs and 25 stolen bases. 24-year old righty closer Craig Kimbrel just keeps getting better for the Braves, and that’s scary for the competition. Kimbrel pitched in 33 games (0 starts) for the Braves in the first half of the 2012 season and he was 0-1 with 25 saves, a 1.36 ERA and a 0.70 WHIP.
Biggest Surprise: Jason Heyward - 22-year old lefty swinging RF Jason Heyward was awful in 2011 for the Braves, but he’s making up for it so far this year. Heyward has played in 82 games for the Braves so far this year and he is 80 for 294 (.272 avg, .837 OPS) with 45 runs scored, 14 homers, 41 RBIs and 11 stolen bases. The Braves hope that Heyward keeps up the good work with the bat in the second half of the 2012 season.
Biggest Disappointment: Mike Minor - 24-year old lefty starting pitcher Mike Minor was supposed to be a fixture in the Braves’ rotation for a long, long time. But, he has been awful so far this year for the Braves. Minor has started 16 games for the Braves so far this year and he is 5-6 with a 5.97 ERA and a 1.42 WHIP. He has given up an amazingly bad 19 homers in only 92 innings so far this year. The Braves need Minor to get his act together soon, or they are going to have to replace him in the rotation.