Marlins notebook

Atlanta Braves prove not all young teams struggle

 
 
Kris Medlen (54) of the Atlanta Braves poses during Photo Day on Wednesday, February 29, 2012 at Champion Stadium in Lake Buena Vista, Florida.
Kris Medlen (54) of the Atlanta Braves poses during Photo Day on Wednesday, February 29, 2012 at Champion Stadium in Lake Buena Vista, Florida.
Tony Firriolo / MLB Photos via Getty Images

cspencer@MiamiHerald.com

It’s hardly any surprise that the two teams with the poorest records in the majors — the Astros and Marlins — are also the two youngest. But age isn’t everything.

Baseball’s best record belongs to the Atlanta Braves, and they’re the third-youngest team in the majors. And the second-best record entering play Saturday belongs to the Pirates, the fourth-youngest team.

“We have a young team,” acknowledged Braves pitcher Kris Medlen. “But we have a young team that’s been around already. We’re young, but we’re grown up.”

At least in terms of big-league experience.

Case in point: Justin Upton. The Braves’ outfielder is only 25, but already has more than 800 games and 3,000 at-bats in the majors to his credit. One other example is Braves catcher Brian McCann. He’s only 29 but is in his ninth season in the majors.

Meanwhile, most of the Marlins’ most experienced players — Placido Polanco, Juan Pierre and Greg Dobbs — aren’t everyday contributors. The starting jobs belong to young, unseasoned rookies such as Christian Yelich, Jake Marisnick and Adeiny Hechavarria. And their youth has been underscored by their inconsistency.

The average age of the Marlins is 27 years 121 days, making them more than a full year older, on average, than the Astros. But the Braves, with an average age of 27 years 160 days, are only slightly older than the Marlins.

Learning curves

Koyie Hill empathized with Rob Brantly, the catcher he replaced on the Marlins’ roster.

“I wouldn’t look at it as a bad thing, him going down there and getting some time in,” Hill said of Brantly’s demotion to Triple A New Orleans.

“A million other guys had to do that, too. So I don’t think it’s a personal attack on anything he does. I think it’s just part of the process.”

Hill, primarily a backup in nine major-league seasons, recalls his own slow learning curve when he broke in.

“I went to the big leagues in 2003, and I didn’t feel like I was confident in what I was doing behind the plate until like 2006,” Hill said. “I’d been an Opening Day starter at that point, same as Brantly. It’s just experience. He’ll be fine.”

Hill, who was inserted as part of a double switch Friday, singled in his first at-bat with the Marlins.

Coming up

•  Sunday: Marlins RHP Henderson Alvarez (2-1, 2.80 ERA) at Atlanta Braves LHP Mike Minor (11-5, 2.76), 1:35 p.m., Turner Field.

•  Monday: Marlins RHP Tom Koehler (3-7, 4.40) at Kansas City Royals RHP Wade Davis (5-9, 5.42), 8:10 p.m., Kauffman Stadium.

•  Scouting report: Even though he has made just seven starts for the Marlins since coming off the disabled list, Alvarez will be seeing the Braves for the third time. In his first two outings against Atlanta, Alvarez went 0-1 and gave up seven earned runs over 11 innings (5.73 ERA).

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