The Braves broke out of their seasonal malaise in July, posting their best record of any month this season at 16 wins and 11 losses. Those wins allowed them to get above .500 for the first time since early April and stay there. The team's turnaround can be attributed to an offensive resurgence, and the continued good pitching we've received all year.
Hitting MVP: The good part about July is that there were a lot of contenders for this distinction. Just about everyone in the starting lineup hit well. Do you choose the guy with the most homeruns for the month, Garret Anderson, the guy with the most total bases and the most RBI, Brian McCann, or the guy with the most runs scored, last month's MVP, Martin Prado? Even guys that struggled some like Chipper Jones and Nate McLouth had good enough offensive months.
The guy who had the best offensive month, though, was Yunel Escobar. Yuney hit a ripe .356 in July and made the most of every plate appearance. His .447 on-base percentage was also the best on the team, aided by 11 walks, versus just 6 strikeouts. He contributed 19 RBI and good power with a .616 slugging percentage. There should never be a doubt about how import Yunel Escobar is to this Braves team.
#19 / Short Stop / Atlanta Braves
Nov 02, 1982
|2009 - Yunel Escobar||87||331||50||101||20||1||11||58||28||35||3||3||.305||.370||.471|
Hitting LVP: There isn't anyone who really stands out this month as being deserving of LVP. Ryan Church didn't hit particularly well, only .222, but while Jeff Francoeur only hit .240 with zero walks, Church walked 9 times to the tune of a .375 on-base percentage, which produced 3-times the runs scored than Francoeur while they were each members of the Braves. Church contributed a more rounded offensive game that the Braves wanted, and it would seem kind of a mean parting shot to give the LVP to Frenchy.
The default for this award, then, goes to Diory Hernandez. As valuable as Escobar was, Hernandez sucked the air out of the shortstop position when he was in the lineup. A .179 average and not much power, the hitting of Hernandez made us yearn for Omar Infante to return from the disabled list. Don't get me wrong, I like Diory, but I'd like him more if he was hitting better. It's not entirely his fault, though, he's being forced into this role he's not quite ready for because of the injury to Infante and the nagging injuries that keep Escobar out of the lineup.
#27 / Second Base / Atlanta Braves
Apr 08, 1984
|2009 - Diory Hernandez||30||80||6||12||3||0||1||6||5||18||0||1||.150||.200||.225|
Pitching MVP: Javier Vazquez had another good month, winning 3 games, and posting an ERA under 3. Derek Lowe had a good month and a winning record, and several members of the setup relief corps had outstanding months -- Boone Logan didn't allow a run, and Eric O'Flaherty and Peter Moylan had ERAs around 3. You know who else had a really good month? Kris Medlen, who gave up some hits and walks, but he managed a 2.93 ERA and struck out 16 men in 15.1 innings, including one start -- that's a pretty valuable swing man, but not the MVP.
The MVP of July for the pitchers is Jair Jurrjens -- a pretty easy pick. In 6 July starts he was 4-and-1 with a team-high 38.2 innings pitched. He allowed only 25 hits in those 38.2 innings. The only knock against his July performance may be 14 walks issued. Even with the walks he only managed a 1.01 WHIP.
#49 / Pitcher / Atlanta Braves
Jan 29, 1986
|2009 - Jair Jurrjens||9-7||24||22||0||0||0||0||134.0||113||46||40||8||48||93||2.69||1.20|
Pitching LVP: There was a not-so-special bullpen performance from Manny Acosta, and many tough outings from Kenshin Kawakami, but the July pitching LVP goes to Mike Gonzalez. Gonzo's erratic month led to 3 losses, and several other ineffective outings. Mostly, though, the pitching staff held it together in July like they have all season.
#51 / Pitcher / Atlanta Braves
May 23, 1978
|2009 - Mike Gonzalez||3-3||53||0||0||0||9||5||48.0||40||22||16||4||20||63||3.00||1.25|