Everybody knew the BARVES would be good in 2012. They were good in 2011 and, well, they’re good almost every year. Despite winning 89 games last season, they came into 2012 with some real question marks. Rumors swirled of potential trades centered around a package of Martin Prado and Jair Jurrjens. The outfield was a concern for the Braves as Jason Heyward remained a question mark after his disappointing 2011 season.
In leading the Braves to a very impressive 94 wins, any questions of their starting outfield were immediately answered. Jason Heyward and his repaired shoulder returned to the form that made him so dangerous as a rookie, hitting 27 home runs and posting a 121 wRC+ while playing terrific defense in right field.
Michael Bourn performed exactly as Atlanta hoped he would when they acquired him at last season’s trade deadline, playing terrific defense in center, getting on base and swiping bags at his leisure. And Martin Prado rebounded from injuries and batted ball misfortune in 2011 to post a .347 wOBA, much more in line with his career numbers.
The productivity, defense, and health of this outfield trio powered them to historic heights: they became just the second team in the modern era to have three outfielders post 5 rWAR or better.
Five WAR might be an arbitrary figure but it is a bar each of the Barves outfielders passes with ease. Prado’s 5.4 rWAR (5.9 fWAR) trails Bourn’s 6 rWAR (6.4 fWAR) and Heyward’s 5.5 rWAR (6.6 fWAR) but still ranks him third among left fielders in 2012.
The Braves are best known for the pitching staff and their octogenarian third baseman (who happens to own a career .300/.400/.530 career line NBD) but their outfield is the best in baseball. While it lacks the ceiling of any outfield helmed by Mike Trout, it also lacks the woeful depths plumbed by a Vernon Wells-type figure. With Bourn, Prado, and Heyward lined up 1-2-3 in the Barves batting order, this outfield is second to none in the history of the game.