Edit: Since Justin was scratched, I think B.J. back in the 2-hole is, more or less, a one night thing. Let’s pray to the baseball gods that this is true! We cannot afford to put our worst hitter in such a vital place in the lineup.
As of now, it looks like B.J. Upton and his ninja-like grip on the 2-spot in the order has finally been pried away. That’s good for all of us that live and die with the Braves each game of every year. There are many statistical studies on batting order that come to the conclusion that the 2nd spot in the order is so vital in run-production, that it’s the most important spot in the batting order. One spot, in which, the best pure hitter on the team should occupy. Pure hitter is such a hard word to define, but if you were to ask any Braves’ fan who that would be, the likely answer would be Freddie Freeman. While the Braves would likely never put Freeman in the 2nd spot, and I don’t think they should either, the time to really start testing the likes of players other than B.J. is now.
However, this post is not about the 2-hole, but more about giving others a shot to crack the regular lineup. It took a few months to pull the PlUggla and a few misses in the form of Pena and Pastornicky before the Braves settled on La Stella. Now it’s time to do the same for B.J., with stage 1 starting with players already on the 25-man.
Yesterday was a good day for 2 of our bench players. Ryan Doumit went 3/4 with 1 HR and 3 RBI. He also made a few surprisingly good plays in the outfield, which were very uncharacteristic of him. Jordan Schafer also benefited from the spot start going 1/2,the hit being a double, with 2 walks. In my opinion, it’s time to see what they can do on a regular basis via platoon.
The Case for Ryan Doumit
Make no mistake, Ryan Doumit has been pretty terrible this year. However, prior to being traded to the Braves, Doumit was a full-time player for 2 years with the Twins, and the offensive results were there. Granted, he’s not going to tear the roof off with his defense but getting his bat in the lineup seems pretty justifiable right now. This is essentially similar to the move of putting Gattis in left field and bringing up Christian Bethancourt, with the exception being that there’s not a severe offensive downswing in the move. Doumit’s career .716 OPS against LHP is a vast improvement from anything we’ve been getting from B.J.
Conclusion: For now, Ryan Doumit should start in left field against LHP, moving Justin Upton to right field and Jason Heyward to center field.
The Case for Jordan Schafer
Jordan Schafer has had quite an interesting career. After his 2007 season at High-A, Schafer really skyrocketed on the scene. Being touted as the next Grady Sizemore, Schafer might have let that compliment go to his head. Over the next few years, there were media outlets and even players that were essentially calling Jordan out on his arrogance as he strutted around the field and drove up to the stadium with radio blasting, driving his hummer. One columnist asked the question to Schafer, “How do you feel?” Jordan responded, “How do I feel? Like f**king success!”
After the demotion in 2009 that led to his trade to the Astros for Michael Bourn, Jordan’s bitterness grew. After the ’09 season, he was arrested for felony possession of marijuana. While it might have been that or it might just be coincidence, it seemed like the arrogance had finally been deflated from Schafer’s balloon.
When the Braves brought back Jordan in the spring of 2013, it was noted that he was much more humble the 2nd go-around. Prior to re-injuring himself on June 25, 2013, Jordan was ripping the cover off of the ball to the tune of an .881 OPS through 141 plate appearances. When he came back from injury, he wasn’t the same.
Fast forward to this year. Jordan has had 58 plate appearances and let’s be honest, it’s not been pretty. However, as seen last year, Jordan has the ability to really ignite a team should he get hot. The walks are still there, the stolen bases are still there, and the K-rate has dropped. If he can continue to use the bunt to get some easy hits and raise his BABIP, he could do wonders for a stale offense.
Conclusion: Jordan Schafer should start in CF against RHP.
Desperate times call for desperate measures and B.J. has been given almost half a year to prove his worth. The least Fredi Gonzalez can do is give Schafer and Doumit to the All-Star break to prove their’s.