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Braves 2nd half preview: The "Experts"
Atlanta Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman has been the team's most clutch hitter going into the all-star break. - photo by MCT

The Forsyth County News sports staff debates a few key topics about the Braves’ first half and what to expect after the all-star break.

Who is the Braves’ first-half MVP?

John McWilliams, staff writer: It’s going to a host of players: the bullpen. The Braves tout a league-leading 2.62 ERA and opponents are hitting .213. Craig Kimbrel has allowed one run since May 8.

Brian Paglia, sports editor:  Freddie Freeman. He leads the team in hits and RBIs despite missing 15 days with an oblique strain. No one’s been more clutch than the all-star first baseman.

What was the Braves’ biggest moment of the first half?

McWilliams: Atlanta trailed 4-0 against the Nationals on April 12 entering the seventh, but tied the game and forced extras. Ramiro Pena hit a two-run homer to win the game.

Paglia:  The Upton show on April 6. Atlanta trailed the Cubs 5-4 in the bottom of the ninth. B.J. tied it with a home run. Justin followed two batters later with a walk-off home run.

What is the one piece the Braves could still use?

McWilliams: Atlanta needs to dump B.J. Upton, but it won’t happen. Frank Wren has invested too much money in the struggling .177 outfielder. Instead, the Braves will look for a reliever.

Paglia: It sounds inconsequential, but the Braves could use an upgraded utility infielder. Losing Ramiro Pena, who could play three positions, for the season was a big loss.

The Braves’ season ends with a ...

McWilliams:... postseason loss in the NLCS. The Braves have what it takes to win the pennant and the divisional round, but the amount of strikeouts will catch up to them.

Paglia:  ... postseason loss in the NLDS. No doubt, this is a playoff team, but it’s tough to picture Atlanta matching the power pitching of a St. Louis or Cincinnati in a best-of-five series.