Full disclosure here, I thought Simba would turn into a leadoff man. Instead he turned into the major league leader in infield popup outs. Apparently I needed to rethink my thinking. I did that a few weeks ago and -after a nudge or two from the Twitterverse and a reassessment of our strengths and weaknesses – have been advocating a lineup that brings our better hitters up a notch. Today’s Braves lineup does that.
- Jason Heyward CF OBP .325 SLG .370
- Justin Upton RF OBP .342 SLG .439
- Freddie Freeman 1B OBP .379 SLG .469
- Evan Gattis LF OBP .317 SLG .548
- Brian McCann C OBP .372 SLG .527
- Dan Uggla 2B OBP .321 SLG .438
- Chris Johnson 3B OBP .368 SLG .458
- Andrelton Simmons SS OBP .279 SLG .358
- Julio Teheran P
This Braves lineup poses a very different challenge to Joe Kelly and the Cardinals. The chances of the leadoff man getting on just increased as did the chances that he will get on with an extra base hit. If you can hold back you gag reflex and imagine another bat in the lineup as a DH or B.J. Upton in CF and Gattis as DH (washing my mouth out with soap now) this is a very American League looking lineup. You will still see folks unhappy with Johnson hitting seventh but honestly if that’s all you have to moan about, have a Coke and relax for the day.
That’s A Wrap
I can’t tell you for certain that this Braves lineup will work better than any tried before. I can tell you that statistically anyway it has a better chance of putting runners on base ahead of the big guns in the Atlanta Artillery Brigade (© Fred Owens 2013.) It also takes the building pressure off of Justin Upton to be the run producer, moves or best RBI bat into a place in the order where he will get more at bats and allows Simmons to relax and play shortstop without worrying about his hitting. I have no evidence other than my eyes that tells me Simba is concerned about hitting and I haven’t seen it affect him in the field but he’s young and it has to be in the back of his mind. Now he can be what we ask him to be last year, a slick fielding shortstop who will hit enough to stay in the lineup and grow into his bat as he matures.
I’ve criticized Fredi Gonzalez decision making when I felt it necessary and will do so in the future. I have always wanted him to succeed however and I’ve seen signs that he is growing into a better manager. This lineup is another of those signs. One of the things he’s had trouble doing in the past is sticking with his decisions when they didn’t produce immediate results. I can only hope that he’s learned to ignore cries for instant gratification and will stick to this lineup long enough for it to give it a fair test. I understand that when B.J. returns he will slot in there somewhere near Johnson and Simmons. Aside from that and heaven forbid more injuries, I believe we need to leave it alone for a month at least and preferably the rest of the season. That’s my pre-game take; what’s yours?