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Here's a quick primer on the Wild Card-winning Braves, who face the Cardinals in a single winner-take-all contest.
Yes, you already know that Kris Medlen is really, really, really good. But here are some things you might know about the 2012 Atlanta Braves, unless you've really, really, really been paying attention for most of these last six months ...
- The pitching-rich Braves employed, at various times this season, both 37-year-old Livan Hernandez and 41-year-old Miguel Batista. Does that need any further editorial comment?
- Brian McCann, the Braves' big-star catcher, is currently the Braves' back-up catcher. Seriously. Right-handed Kyle Lohse is starting for the Cardinals in the Wild Card game, and lefty-hitting McCann is on the bench while righty-hitting David Ross plays instead. McCann, who entered this season with a career .286 batting average and a 122 OPS+, finished this season at .230 and 87. He's been particularly ineffective since the All-Star break, with a .219/.298/.355 line.
- Eric Hinske got 147 plate appearances with this team.
- The Braves ran through three every-day shortstops this season: rookie Tyler Pastornicky, rookie Andrelton Simmons, ex-Red Paul Janish, and now Simmons again. Which is good for the Braves, because Simmons is the best of the group and might be, right now, the best fielder in the whole National League.
- Tim Hudson hasn't won 20 games in one season since 2000, his first full season in the majors. But with another two or three good seasons, he should be on his way to the Hall of Fame. Among pitchers with at least 300 career decisions, Hudson's .654 career winning percentage ranks sixth all-time, behind only Whitey Ford, Pedro Martinez, Lefty Grove, Christy Mathewson, and Roger Clemens. Granted, that's stacking the deck a little; Hudson has only 301 decisions, and his percentage is almost certain to drop as he (almost inevitably) declines. But he's rarely mentioned among this era's great pitchers, which isn't really right.