Between persistent injuries to slugger Chipper Jones and starting pitchers John Smoltz, Tom Glavine, Mike Hampton and Tim Hudson, the Braves suffered a serious setback this year. On top of that, the team’s offense began to choke. To keep spirits high, we need YUNEL ESCOBAR. The 25-year-old Cuban defector, whose escape from the island was the subject of a July Sporting News cover story, plays every game like it’s his last, and he isn’t afraid to occasionally err on the side of exuberance. A spark like that can catch a team on fire, as Willie Harris almost did for the Braves last year. Escobar’s batting average hovers around .300, he’s quick on the base paths and plays solid shortstop. But it’s his energetic style that makes him a lit match teetering over an oil field.
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