October 1, 2012; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Official baseballs lay on the field before the Atlanta Braves and Pittsburgh Pirates game at PNC Park. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Uptown Boys


 

…We’re all living in an Uptown world

 

A little rip from the great Billy Joel gets us started on this Friday.  Ok, the Braves traded for Justin Upton…old news…and signed brother B.J. Upton…even older news.  So, nowadays since we’re living in an Uptown world, let’s begin the discussion of “important” topics going into the 2013 season.

 

The newest member of the Atlanta Braves, Justin Upton. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

Important like, what number will Justin wear, will the brothers wear their pant leg up, what’s the lineup going to look like….

 

Ever since that long, less then 24 hours, time ago when the Braves signed Justin Upton the speculation started in my head of what number could he possibly take.  He has always worn #10 since he’s been a pro and even his twitter handle is @Jus10Up10.  But, #10 is Chipper’s and will be retired that way.  He’s worn the #2 before but I hardly doubt older brother B.J. will give up his newly given jersey number.  He once said he wore #9 in high school because Michael Cuddyer, of the Colorado Rockies, wore the number on Team USA and he went to the same school as Justin.  Will he go back to that number because of Cuddyer now? I doubt it.  Scouts have always labeled him as being a Ken Griffey Jr. type player and Justin grew up a fan of Griffey’s.  Since Michael Bourn will no longer be a Brave, the #24 is open.  Another option is #8, no more David Ross (Boston Red Sox), which would suit Mr Upton nicely.

Former Tampa Bay Rays, now with the Atlanta Braves, center fielder BJ Upton (2) hits a 2-RBI double against the Baltimore Orioles at Tropicana Field. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Griffith-USA TODAY Sports

 

 

B.J. usually rocks the high socks during games and last season we saw Jason Heyward supporting the same style occasionally.  Will they be able to talk Justin into the new grave?  Short and sweet, yes, they will talk Justin into wearing the pant leg up every once and awhile.

 

 

 

 

The lineup has been a topic on most boards and it’s always fun to imagine if you were in Fredi’s shoes how you would do it differently.  Here is what I’m thinking the lineup should be.

 

  1. B.J. Upton CF (Right)
  2. Jason Heyward RF (Left)
  3. Justin Upton LF (Right)
  4. Freddie Freeman 1B (Left)
  5. Dan Uggla 2B (Right)
  6. Brian McCann C (Left)
  7. Francisco/Johnson 3B (Left/Right)
  8. Andrelton Simmons SS (Right)
  9. Pitcher

 

If you think differently about any of these topics, let us know we’d be happy to hear your options.

 

 

 

Tags: Atlanta Braves FanSided Featured Popular

  • charly

    mmmmm. not sure of BJ on the top of the lineup…i´d like to see heyward there…even if he´s not the most obvious choice

  • BravesBaseball10

    I could see Heyward at the top of the order. I’ve also heard Simmons but I’m scared he will struggle at that spot and lose confidence

  • fireboss

    I think Justin should wear #1. Rev won’t make this squad unless there’s a serious and unexpected improvement.

    BJ is a 5 hole hitter not a leadoff man in spite of his speed. In that spot with protection behind him and no pressure to be THE guy he’ll hit 20-25 drive in 70+ steal 20- 30 bags.

    Simmons will do fine as the leadoff man with Heyward Justin Bmac Bj Freeman to follow he’ll get lots of fastballs to hit and we’ll his speed put to better use.

    I think Fredi will bat McCann 4th if he’s really ready on opening day purely out of loyalty to the senior Brave icon. Not saying I agree – my lineup was in my J-Upton post yesterday – just that Fredi is an old school mindset and loyalty to BMac will be on his mind. Really BMac did fine in the 4 hole when he wasn’t injured. With his mechanics correct and plenty of support on both sides of him he should repeat that success.
    Francisco could well have a breakout year in 2013. He’s just 25 and with regular playing time his numbers have historically improved.

    • BravesBaseball10

      Reports came out yesterday Justin said no to #1

      I’d rather have Freeman in the 4 hole. He hit well there last year when BMac struggled. Plus Freeman is in the future of the Braves, they should have someone consistent batting cleanup that we’ll have for years to come.

      • http://www.facebook.com/barry.swindler.3 Barry Swindler

        Isn’t it weird? I remember liking him there as well when I look back on the season. But his numbers were TERRIBLE in that spot. And when I say terrible i’m talking Charles Barkley golf swing terrible. He hit a blistering .169, slugged a gawdy .312, drove in an unbelievable amount of 7 runners, and had the incredible BABIP of .169 (yes, that was sarcasm).

        20 games does not make a season, but it IS long enough to notice an idea that doesn’t work, and for whatever reason, F5F in the four hole just doesn’t work. It’s a square peg in a round hole, but the good news is there’s square holes on either side of that round hole, because his numbers in the three and five spots are WAYYYYYYY better.

  • Jeff Schafer

    The Braves obviously won’t have a clear cut lead off man to open up the season. Granite Simmons could turn into a great leadoff hitter, he’s still young and has only had a half of MLB season. If you place him in the leadoff spot and he fails, confidence is shot.

    This one is going to be tough for Fredi and may have to get creative.

    • fireboss

      I think you underestimate Simba. He’s a young man with an old baseball mind. He won’t fret if he starts off slowly, he’ll just keep going out and doing it. I read that Simba leadoff man unless he fails in the spring (Bowman I think).

  • atlbrew

    Lineup:

    1. Andrelton Simmons (Right)

    Andrelton has a higher OBP than B.J. Upton. It isn’t a stretch to say
    that he is talented enough to improve this season and with that will be a
    slight improvement in OBP too. He doesn’t have B.J. speed, but he has
    enough speed to leadoff and OBP is more important.

    2. Freddie Freeman (Left)

    Freeman should be swapped with Heyward, because Heyward is going to be
    more of a run producer and Freeman should improve on last year’s OBP
    which wasn’t terrible despite issues with his eyes.

    3. Justin Upton (Right)

    I think everyone would agree that Upton would be a good fit in the 3 hole.

    4. Jason Heyward (Left)

    Heyward should be in a run producing slot in the lineup. With Upton in the 3 hole rather than the 4 hole for the sake of a balance of righties and lefties throughout the lineup, the four hole would be perfect for Heyward. Plus we would also benefit from having a player who has the speed of a leadoff man in the heart of the lineup.

    5. B.J. Upton (Right)

    To keep the right/left/right/left balance through the lineup, the 5 hole would be better for B.J. because we are more likely to get 25+ homers out of him than we are Uggla (not to say that Uggla won’t return to form this year).

    6. Brian McCann (Left)

    McCann would be the obvious choice for this spot based on the pattern.

    7. Dan Uggla (Right)

    Much like McCann, this would be the obvious spot for Uggla in this scenario. Also, Uggla would have a lot less pressure at this spot in the lineup which would act as a secondary cleanup spot (with less pressure) in the lineup in a way with Heyward being in the 4 hole and having the speed of a leadoff man. Maybe this could help him become more patient to get that homerun swing back and we could see 30+ homers from the 7 hole.

    8. Johnson/Francisco (Left/Right)

    9. Pitcher

    Anyone’s thoughts on Dan being moved to the 2 hole if he has a year like he did last year? He did not get the homers that we wanted from him, but he drew 94 walks and had a .348 OBP which isn’t quite up to Prado’s level, but is the exact same as Michael Bourn. Not a terrible OBP to have at the top of the lineup.

    • Jeff Schafer

      I could see Uggla getting slotted into the 2 hole. If the coaches can work with him and at least get him trying to go to the opposite field instead of going for a homerun, walk or strikeout, I think he can be an all-star player. Him swinging for the fences every swing won’t help him landing hitting 2nd.

      • Lee Trocinski

        I promise you Uggla won’t work on that. If he didn’t do it stuck in the minors with Arizona, he won’t do it as an established player.

    • fireboss

      Heyward id the 2 spot = fewer double plays. Freddie is prone to that because while he runs as hard as anyone it takes him longer to get where he’s going. Besides Heyward gets more at bats in the 2 spot and I hope he’ll relax a bit and start hitting the ball more like his rookie year. That might be fewer home runs but I think it would mean more runs overall.
      I wouldn’t let Uggla anywhere near the two hole. Dan’s a great guy but he’s an all or nothing hitter and usually unwilling to take what’s given. The pressure on him to hit like a 2 hitter would drive him into a slump worse than last year’s.

  • Lee Trocinski

    I think the lineup is fine, save for flipping Simmons and Francisco. First, it would give Simmons a chance to run, as the pitcher wouldn’t be at the plate every time he gets on base. Second, it avoids two straight lefties with McCann and Francisco. Lastly, Francisco has more of a shot to drive Simmons in from first base than vice versa.

    Simmons may very well end up in the leadoff spot by the All-Star break, which would be big. B.J. has shown the ability to be a quality leadoff guy, but that was in ’07 and ’08. If he lowers his Swing% back towards those levels, he could be a manageable leadoff guy. Heyward hits #2 to have his speed on the bases to make the extra base hits from the middle of the order a bit more valuable. It’s a volatile lineup, good or bad.

  • http://www.facebook.com/barry.swindler.3 Barry Swindler

    ha who leaves comments on here? Uggla to the two hole? F5F in the two hole? Simmons leading off? Ok, that last one isn’t a stretch, but it is still a few years away.

    Lee hit a good point, with Simmons in the 8 hole, it does make it tough for him to run, but remember, Freddie Gonzo hasn’t shied away from batting the pitcher 8th to get speed in the 9 hole.

    For those detractors of the elder Upton, take a look at Bourn’s strike outs, especially last year, compared to BJ’s. It’s not that much lower. BJ’s stolen base rate was actually extremely better than Michael’s too, with only six less swipes. Even the pitches per at bat difference is minuscule. The big difference is the on base percentage, which is a grand difference of 3 pts in their careers. If BJ can calm down his swing %, which he swings at over 51% of pitches he sees, and can learn to become a little more selective at the plate, he will be ok. The move to Turner Field, which contrary to popular belief, plays extremely neutral, and actually slightly shades towards the hitters’ favor, from a pitcher friendly Tropicana field, the potential is there for Upton to actually become a better lead-off than Bourn.

    Personally, I would argue that J Hey’s steady rise in fly ball rate, and decline in ground ball rate, shows that he is growing into the power hitter we all hope he is destined to become, and that his role should be further down the order, if not now, then soon. Also, you don’t want to get the lead-off man on, then have a number two hitter who can’t consistently hit the ball on the ground behind him, or during a hit in run. However, he has proven through the minors and first two years in the majors (hopefully last year was a fluke in this department), that he can work a count to take a walk, and when he does swing, his swing and miss rate was under 10%, which both can make a good number two hitter. However, with Andrelton showing maturity beyond his years, he could actually be a better fit there. His swing and miss rate is a tiny 5.9% and he’s shown an ability to get on base through out his minor league career. His strike out rate was an “inflated” 11.9% his rookie season. I say inflated because, that is still under the league average, but noticeably higher than his numbers in the minors. He has shown the potential to steal bases through the minors, he hits over twice as many ground balls as fly balls, and can control a bat.Also, his average with no one on, and a runner at first are significantly higher than his with runners in scoring position, so depending on him to clean up the base paths before clearing the pitcher out of the eight hole doesn’t seem as appealing as having him hit .300 this year because half the time he is up it is with a speedy runner standing on first. Lets not forget, Heyward has shown a habit of struggling against lefties, which is why we picked up Reed Johnson last year, and resigned him this year, so there’s a chance that you will see more stability with Simmons there as well.

    I might have a man crush on Duggla’s biceps, but I broke up with his bat the second the streak came to an end. I love the guy as a ball player, but given his struggles and the pressure he has placed on himself because of his contract, starting the season in the sixth or seventh spot may be better for him instead of getting moved there because of yet another slow start. He’s been pressing since he’s gotten here, so instead of placing him in the power position, move him back some and tell him to go rip at it, and let him play loose. See if he can’t work his way back up to the five hole.

    The best all around hitter traditionally hits third, and while the potential is there for baby bro, I think he too played under a lot of pressure last year, after finishing fourth in the MVP voting, winning the silver slugger and making the all-star team, and troubles between him and Gibby, all led to the four month slump to open 2012. With the move to an extremely better hitters’ ballpark, in a division filled with much better hitters’ parks than the NL West, and big bro here to keep him at ease, this could be his break out season… again… again. But until he proves it is, at least during the spring, for my money, no one is a better alley to alley hitter, with the threat of the deep ball at any time than Fab 5 Freddie. He proved that he isn’t effected by sophomore slumps, left handed pitchers, or taking the ball to the opposite field, so long as we can keep his eyes clear of foreign objects. What’s that? You need stats to prove my point? Ok. During the second year of his career he improved both is k rate and walk rate, as well as is line drive, fly ball and hr/fly ball rates, all signs of trending towards being a better power hitter. He has just missed an 800 ops his first two years, and remains an aggressive hitter, swinging at over half of the pitches he sees, while only swinging and missing at 11% of the pitches. There, there’s your stats! :)

    I like BMac in the clean-up, except i do not like the idea of a number four hitter not being in the line-up for a third of the games. To me, the number three and four hitters should be the anchors of your line-up, and as such, should be players who will be in there 135-155 games per year. So, I’d think about sliding him down to fifth.

    Juan has major power potential, but no discipline or average, so to me he’s a guy that will be slotted in whatever position is left open in the line-up, where he will bat a tough .200 but he will whack some 15 bombs, drive in 40+ and only commit 23409823409842390823 errors in the field. Johnson against lefties seems to be the play here as well, but except for his sophomore slump, he has proven he can hit major league pitching for average, and has had a plus .310 BABIP basically throughout his minor and major league career. He’s shown the potential for power, slugging over .450 two of his three seasons in the bigs, and his power batted ball rates have been improving. However, it’s feast or famine with this guy it seems, with his 25% strike out rate, and 132 k’s in 134 games last season. He’s up there hacking too, only walking around 5.5% of the time for his career. And, if you look at his righty-lefty splits, he actually hits righties much better than south paws, so we will have to see how that plays out. Until we do, he will get hand-cuffed to Juan’s position in the order in my mind.

    So the way I would set up the line-up?

    1. B Up -R (that nickname is going to stick, so jump on the bandwagon now)
    2. Simmons – R (or J Hey if he can’t cut it)
    3. F5F – L (Best all-round hitter on the team in my mind)
    4. J Up – R (The #4 spot is for your RBI guy. HR not as big a factor as slugging, and boys, he can slug)
    5. BMac – L (Why settle for one clean-up hitter when you have the talent for 2?)
    6. J Hey – L (Again, potential for power here makes a very, very strong 3-6)
    7. Duggla – R (Hopefully he would be able to finish off rallies in a good way this yr)
    8. whoever is going to play third…
    9. some cy young candidate name medlen, or beachy, or hudson, or one of the other bums that make up the best pitching staff in the NL

    But if we are playing the game guess how drop dead fred is going to fill out the line-up card on opening day I believe you pegged it with the article.

    • Lee Trocinski

      I agree with most everything you say, except with Freeman. He is affected by lefties, though it’s mostly plate discipline. Last year, his BB/K ratio was .33 against lefties and .68 against righties, a big reason for his 50-point spread in wOBA. His BB% will likely go down, as no one else in the majors had a double-digit BB rate when swinging at least half the time. Also, his SwStr% was well above league average, and even his Contact% was still a bit below average. While he changed his approach around the All-Star break, a poor September showed he’s not immune to slumps.

      Also, with your lineup, a lefty can be put in to face Brian, able to face 4 or 5 hitters before hitting a quality righty, as Uggla has a career reverse platoon split. It’s really a hard lineup to organize, but if BMac and Uggla rebound close to their old levels, it will be a good one.

      • http://www.facebook.com/barry.swindler.3 Barry Swindler

        Absolutely right on the strike and contact %, but he also was dealing with an eye problem for a bit. I am not one to use injuries as an excuse unless it is my own personal life, but that does factor into it. And no one, especially no Brave, is immune to slumps! haha However, you do make a good, and some way say better, point and put it together in a better way than I did at two thirty. I wouldn’t of course because that would be admitting that I may have been wrong about something. And if I had taken the time to look at his numbers in the fifth hole last year, I may have made an argument to put him there. But he is a good two out hitter, especially with RISP so, yea. haha In a perfect world I would have him in the fifth slot.

        And, I’ve just run through the scenerios over and over again, and short of doing the improbable immediately (Simba leadoff won’t happen until atleast june),there is no way to run out of right handed bats after the fifth spot. Unless they move Duggs, which won’t happen (and I don’t want it to) or Freddi decides to the Tony LaRussa approach to put your best hitter first if you don’t have a true leadoff, I don’t see any way of running out of quality right handed bats after J Up. So, no matter where you put anyone in this line-up, there’s no reason to look at platoon splits because it will just make your head explode.

        As a side note, you are now my least favorite person. I have shouted from the street corners to whoever would listen that Freddie Freeman is a pure hitter, but after you got me to take a second look at his numbers, he’s just a good hitter that so far has been a sabremetric anomaly. :( Still a hell of a fielder though… can we say hell on here?

        • fireboss

          Chipper’s was right about F5F being the three hole hitter of choice and I love him there but I’m also a pragmatist. The Fredi (one d because he’s shorter that the other Freddie) vision of the lineup is alternating L and R hitters. That setup is not without merit but shouldn’t be written in stone. We do know he’s not being a dynamic thinker so he will stay with philosophy. They traded for Upton the Younger (no it won’t catch on but I like it so there) to hit in the three slot and that’s where he will hit because it;s him, his brother or Uggla. The leadoff spot is Simmons to lose according to a report I read. I like him there so that he can exercise his speed more often but also because it puts BJ’s power farther down into a run producing slot. I have him at the 5 spot in my lineup. The fourth guy will be either Mac or F5F. Jason’s going to hit second because Fredi was told it would work and it didn’t go badly when he used him there so why change? That’s Fredi think. I admit but he does write it down soooo. . .
          Sabremetrically lucky or not, I like Freeman’s approach with RISP. He never gets ruffled or tries to do too much. Freddie’s my horse if he never wins a race.
          Francisco is under rated at third after all his Chipper teaching settled him down a bit and I happen to think he’ll hit this year. That’s probably the kiss of death for his season but he’s my breakout candidate.

          • http://www.facebook.com/barry.swindler.3 Barry Swindler

            Kiss of death hahaha, you can’t give a kiss of death to the already dead! If he breaks out this year then you called it. If he stinks, well, then he’s the same Long Gone Juan, and your kiss would have had no affect on him! hahaha

            But I will allow that, for at least the month of July, he seemed to have it figured out. But, as Bill Walsh said, If you can do it once,why can’t you do it again! And the eye ball test matches the numbers on his power potential, which is HUUUUUGE, but until he goes through more than one month of being productive, I am not willing to even consider him being anything more than another player (just like our Schafer convo) that has not figured out how to hit.

            And F5F is the perfect example of how sabermetrics can discount the eyeball test, but being a baseball person, you can tell when some people “got it”, and right now, he’s got it. It doesn’t mean he always will have it, no one can predict that haha. And it’s not just his RISP approach. The kid is a thinker out there. He processes at bats, assesses situations, adjusts his strategies in between pitches, and plays smart baseball. Being Chipper’s chosen one says a lot too.

            I think brothers Upton will be back to form this year, J Up (i’m still going to push it) obviously will put up bigger numbers based on past seasons, but the skill sets are similar, so both of them in the middle of the order will be an upgrade, but I still think that all signs point to the fact that Simba will make a better number two hitter, at least for the time being. And I still am pushing the apparently crazy notion that BJ can be a nice replacement for Bourn in the lead-off spot.

            The whole lefty-righty thing is a nice theory, and a luxury to have, but as is with all luxuries, it should not make a line-up. If a line-up is good enough, there will be no reason to be that team would need to worry with match-ups. In the late innings, they would be preserving a lead, and not having to fight for it. With our bullpen, the name of the game SHOULD be to get up by the sixth and hold on. I argue that there are more runs out there, or at least the potential for more runs, with an alternative line-up based on player’s strengths and weakness, and not their handedness.

            This has the making of an experiment. I am not sure how long this will take, but I am going to figure out, based on a three year average where applicable, what the optimal line-up would be. :) the math nerd in me just got VERY excited.

          • fireboss

            Juan hits well when he plays consistently, his history with the Reds shows that. In 2011 he played almost every game in Septemer and finished that month .270/.299/.514 with 3 homers 7 doubles and a triple. His inconsistency off the bench isn’t unusual for a younger player. Th Reds dumped him because he was out of shape coming into spring training not because they didn’t think he could hit; he was just out of options. If reports of his acceptance of Walkers suggestion and the positive effect they reported out of the Dominican are accurate that horrible OBP will improve and a lot more folks will like him. He’ll always strike out but that just makes him one of the guys.

          • http://www.facebook.com/barry.swindler.3 Barry Swindler

            side note here… i asked a ball player from the DR why they all swing like they do once. (ya know, big swings, very aggressive, no walks) His reply? They don’t fly you off the island for hitting singles hahaha

          • fireboss

            Very old reference there not sure who originally said it but it made Ken Burns “the Tenth Inning” “No one walks off the island.”

          • http://www.facebook.com/barry.swindler.3 Barry Swindler

            LOL Really? Because that was a legit story! hahaha I had heard it before he said it, but I thought it made it more personal if I gave my own first hand account of someone saying it! :)

          • Jeff Schafer

            I agree, the lefty-righty lineup theory sounds great and looks good on paper but will it be necessary for day in and day out games? I don’t think so. Even though we haven’t seen this in the past, Fredi can get extremely creative since he has multiple 3-5 hitters. Switching back and forth between lefties and righties could confuse a starting pitcher, sure, but not many MLB pitchers anymore. This strategy is mostly used for the later innings of a close game. Fredi should find a lineup that works with run production and not base it solely on R,L,R,L.

          • fireboss

            2 things, what makes you think Fredi is creative? I’ve seen no indications of that or of proactive thinking. That’s another conversation but IMO Fredi’s been predictable and slow to react.
            The roster lends itself to the L/R/L configuration this year more than it has in a long time and Fredi will stick to it. While it doesn’t bother the Halladay’s and Kershaw’s of the world there is an effect on lesser and particularly younger pitchers. Perhaps more importantly it makes opposing manager’s think and for many of them that’s a dangerous thing. They don’t want to explain why they didn’t play a matchup even if the impact is miniscule and likely as much due to the pitcher just being a new look as it is to which hand he uses.

          • Jeff Schafer

            I don’t think Fredi’s creative at all, in my previous post I said “we haven’t seen this in the past” but who knows, he could change for the better

  • fireboss

    And now validating my lineup at least the top please welcome Fredi via Dave O’Brien.

    https://twitter.com/ajcbraves/status/294966945126686721

    • BravesBaseball10

      He’s got the first 3 in mind, HA….just like everyone, Fredi is still guessing what he’s going to do

      • fireboss

        Well it was a tweet so space was limited and anyway this is Fredi, we don;t want him thinking too hard so early in the year.

        • BravesBaseball10

          Haha! Point taken, do not want to see a managers head fall off