|Freddie Freeman is leading a team that knows how to win.|
The Atlanta Braves showed why they are a team that is winning their division by a robust 10 games. The Braves are a team that pitches well, they hit well, and they lead the league in come-from-behind wins. They play with an edge that almost makes them scarier when they are losing.
Atlanta is packed with talent, but one player seems to enjoy playing the Rockies slightly more than the rest of the bunch. Freddie Freeman continued his tear against the boys in purple. On Tuesday night he drilled a 1st inning home run off of Juan Nicasio, then hit a three-run shot off of Edgmer Escalona in the 7th inning to bury the Rockies.
Freeman has hit 10 home runs in 20 career games against the Rockies. That ties the Rockies with the Mets for the team that he has hit the most bombs off of. The Mets, however, have played 48 games against the All-Star slugger.
As good as Freeman is, the Braves have a myriad of other players who can do damage. Jason Heyward, Justin Upton and Dan Uggla may not have the most desirable batting averages, but they certainly can hurt a team in a hurry. That isn't to discredit Brian McCann, who has been an All-Star in the past, and Evan Gattis, who is a National League Rookie of the Year candidate.
On top of their hitting, the Braves starting rotation gets the job done. They are efficient, they throw strikes, and they get outs.
With all the talent that the Braves possess, is it really that far of a stretch to think that the Rockies really aren't that far behind Atlanta as far as talent goes? The Rockies may not be as refined, but name a player who the Braves have, and try to suggest that the Rockies don't have someone of equal talent. The Braves have the Rockies beat at first base, where Todd Helton simply isn't the Helton of old and Freeman is blossoming into a star for years to come, however, beyond that spot, the Rockies are as good, or better talent-wise than the Braves.
So why can't the Rockies compete with the Braves, or with the Marlins for that matter?
The Braves have a swagger that hasn't been seen from the Rockies since early April. They not only look like they aren't going to quit scoring runs, they also have a demeanor on the mound that they aren't going to let the opposition back into the game.
On the other side of the field, the Rockies look like don't know what to do with a lead. They don't take good at-bats, and they hope that their starting pitcher can shut down the opposition.
The Rockies lack a winning mindset. They lack a mentality in their clubhouse that demands excellence. They don't play baseball with a mentality that suggests they are only satisfied with winning. They play baseball with an attitude that looks like they are hoping to win, but if it doesn't happen, they have another shot the next day. That attitude is reflected in interviews from the top down.
The Rockies All-Stars all suggested publicly that they don't want the team to be sellers at the trade deadline, which is approaching on Wednesday at 2 pm Mountain Time. However, those statements came immediately after the team had played 10 straight games against NL West opponents and went a disappointing 4-6, scoring just 19 runs.
Immediately following those statements, the Rockies went 5-5 at home against the three worst teams in the National League. If the Rockies players want the front office to spent money and make a splash at the deadline, they shouldn't have mailed in 20 games in which they had a chance to move up.
Many wonder why the Rockies seem to follow the same formula year-in and year-out. The answer is simple. They don't demand excellence. Winning championships requires a team to push to get better, even after wins. This Rockies team, for years, under the guidance of three different managers, hasn't pushed themselves to get better even after a loss. If there is no accountability within the clubhouse or front office, how can fans expect this team to simply go on a run and make up the gap?
The Rockies need to change their mindset, or when the team rolls into August every year, the teams in the other dugout will continue to feast on them as they pursue their own championship aspirations.
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