Jun 19, 2014; Washington, DC, USA; Atlanta Braves outfielder B.J. Upton (2) reacts after striking out during the game against the Washington Nationals at Nationals Park. Mandatory Credit: Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports

Atlanta Braves Lineup...Not A Bashing, Just A Rant

Ok let me start off by saying, like in the title, my intent is to not bash the Atlanta Braves organization, players or managers…I’m just getting some steam off the chest.


Why the h3ll is B.J. Upton still batting 2nd in the Braves lineup??

We are now 74 games into this 2014 season and the older Upton brother continues to struggle at the plate.  As of June 22, he holds a .205/.276/.332 for 2014.  In 70 games played this season, he has only 10 multi hit games…four in April, four in May and two so far in June.  His last multi hit game was June 14th – and on that day he was on base three times!!!…he added a walk.

His speed helps the Braves as well as his defense…

Well, no.

He has 11 stolen bases and was caught twice.

Fielding, five errors in the outfield which is tied for the most in his career…and again, thru 74 games.

But back to the lineup and this need to bat him 2nd.

The Braves lineup was just announced for today’s game…and you guessed it, B.J. is batting 2nd.

1.  Tommy La Stella 2B

2.  B.J. Upton CF

3.  Freddie Freeman 1B

4.  Evan Gattis C

5.  Jason Heyward RF

6.  Justin Upton LF

7.  Chris Johnson 3B

8.  Andrelton Simmons SS

9.  Ervin Santana P

So the thought of where in the h e double hockey sticks should I place B.J. in the lineup has probably went through Fredi Gonzalez‘s thoughts.  You have to think at this point it’s more of a strategic lineup for the Braves…not wanting to have B.J. and then the pitcher, which is pretty much two straight outs.

That’s where I’m at with this…it must be strategic, right?

My lineup at this point in the season would be Heyward, La Stella, Freeman, Gattis, JUp, Johnson, Simmons, BJ (or Schafer but doubtful), pitcher

Below is what David O’Brien tweeted this morning…What do yal think?


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  • Brandon_Woodworth

    Was going to write an article on this, but it’s definitely:

    La Stella


  • Sealift67

    Agree, and would add slotting LaStella at LO places too much pressure on the
    rookie. Hitting between Heyward and FF would be fun to watch how he is pitched
    On positive note I’m encouraged by the new power arms brought up re Buchter and Jaime.
    Buchter’s stay may be brief tho. CJ has his average up, as does Jason. Gattis has
    quieted the many pre-season doubters, hence all is by no means troublesome.

  • fireboss

    Considering all things

    But of course I don’t owe BJ $52.5 M and have to explain why he’s polishing pine which is why he’s playing. As to the 2 hole, hitting in front of F5F should give him more fastballs. In fact it has but he looks at them cross the plate then complains because they’re strikes

  • http://www.tomahawktake.com/ Chris Headrick

    Sounds suspiciously like… http://tomahawktake.com/2014/06/21/atlanta-braves-washington-nationals-live-thread-rant/ … so I obviously agree with the BJ problem :)

  • Mushy Peas

    I have a feeling the TLS/Heyward switch is a permanent one given the fact that, so far, J-Hey has remained relatively productive in the #5 spot. So far Tommy hasn’t adjusted to the lead-off position, but I’m hoping that it’s just a transient offensive slump not related to the switch. If, for some reason, he doesn’t come around, then I’d flip-flop the two and have Heyward back in the lead-off spot. Really no other option there. I’d prefer it that way anyway. Even though J-Hey has more pop than your typical lead-off guy, I’m thinking that would still be beneficial if the lower order guys can consistently get on base before him. BJ is a completely useless in two spot (or anywhere else for that matter). We all know this. They may as well bat the pitcher second! I’m certain BJ has worked really hard on coming up with every excuse he can think of in order to convince Fredi to keep him there. If only he worked that hard on his hitting- not that I think it’ll help much. Keeping him at the top of the line-up is essentially a rally killer. It also gurantees him more ABs per game- ABs we can’t afford to waste on our worst hitter. Ideally, given what we have to work with, I’d like to see:

    L Jason Heyward
    R Andrelton Simmons
    L Freddie Freeman
    R Evan Gattis
    L Tommy La Stella
    R Justin Upton
    R Chris Johnson
    L/R Jordan Schafer/BJ Upton

    I’d platoon Schafer and BJ depending on the opposing pitcher. Jordan will get the most starts because of the higher percentage of righties they face- so that’s a plus.
    Despite Simba’s low OBP and aggressive approach, he’s had some success in the two spot in the past. If he can lay off the high ones, the greater percentage of fastballs he’ll see hitting in front of Freddie may yield better results than hitting eighth where the pitcher doesn’t necessarily have to throw him a strike. He doesn’t walk enough for your typical #2, but I think the fact that he doesn’t strike out much either neutralizes the downside of that. He puts the ball in play-(if he doesn’t pop it up!). Given what few options the Braves have, I think he would be the best option aside from Tommy and I’d be willing to take that gamble. With Tommy, you’d crowd all the lefties at the top and you can’t really get away from the downside of that if you are a NL team.
    Being a contact switch-hitter, Peña will also fit nicely in any of the spots occupied by La Stella, Simmons, or CJ when needed to substitute. Also, depending on which side of a streak JUp in on, you easily could flip-flop he and CJ to maximize productivity.

    On Evan’s off day:

    L Heyward
    R Simmons
    L Freeman
    R J Upton
    L La Stella
    R Johnson
    R Laird
    L/R Schafer/B Upton

  • Ryan Cothran

    According to many advanced studies for optimizing a lineup, the #2 batter should be your best overall hitter. I simply don’t understand putting Andrelton Simmons 2nd, who leads the team in GIDP, or Jordan Schafer, who has no power to speak of and is batting below the Mendoza line. In my opinion, it’s simply poor logic to not pile your best players together to receive the most at-bats. While this is common sense, the #2 batter receives the 2nd most PAs in a game. Why in the world should that go to Andrelton or Schafer? I’d like to see this lineup tomorrow:
    La Stella
    Then however one wants to fill it out.

    Explanation: La Stella at 1 instead of 2 simply because he’s not fleet of foot (GIDP) and not much power.
    Heyward at 2nd… not a big risk for the GIDP, more power than La Stella but less than next 3.
    Jupton at 3rd simply because the 3rd batter comes up with 2 outs and 0 on more than any other batter in the game, and that seems to be conducive for a high-power, high-k player.
    Freeman- Best RBI guy on the team
    Gattis- 2nd best RBI guy on the team.

    • Mushy Peas

      I’m curious as to how these advanced studies your referring to define “best hitter”. If your studies tell you to put your best hitter at #2, then why isn’t Freeman #2 in your line-up? You have him #4 which potentially gives our “best hitter” fewer ABs per game (despite being the best RBI guy); unless, you feel that Jason is the best hitter or you just don’t agree with the studies–but then why reference them? Just looking for a little clarification on that. :)
      The Braves obviously don’t have the ideal guy for every spot, so it will never be a perfect line-up -especially with the big gaping hole that is BJ Upton. He is really the biggest problem at present. For me, the fact that it is not an ideal set-up means that you can’t necessarily go by the book and it also explains why everyone here has such varying ideas of how they think the line-up is best organized. To be quite honest, I’d have a completely different order if they were an AL team. AL teams can get away with going strictly by the book. The strategic nature of constructing an NL line-up requires a mix of both logic and creativity. Something Fredi and co. have yet to master.
      One more rationale I have for putting Simmons #2, is because J-Hey can, theoretically, get on base in front of him and, with his speed, he can swipe second to avoid Simba hitting into a DP or FO. Again, it’s not a perfect set-up, but it never will be with what we have to work with. Also, Simba and J-Hey’s GB% are pretty close at 49.4% and 42.2%, respectively. I suspect the reason Jason hasn’t grounded into more DPs is because he’s had less opportunities having been in the lead-off spot.
      All that aside, I think the most important thing to note is that we all agree that BJ has no business being in the two hole. If they have any hopes of amping up their offensive productivity then BJ has to be moved. Once that takes place, the rest should, hopefully, work itself out.

      • Ryan Cothran

        Actually, I think Freddie Freeman is the best hitter in the lineup. However, the book discusses the #4 hitter being the equivalent hitter to the #2 with a bit more power. While I think Heyward and Freeman’s power are pretty equal, Freeman gets more loft on the ball which, in turn, will allow more balls put o’er the fence. Heyward and Freeman’s average and OBP are about identical over the last 2 months of the season, with Freeman having the edge in SLG for the season.

        There’s an argument to be made for Gattis in either spot, and an argument to be made for Justin in either spot as well. My reasoning for putting Gattis at 5th is simple: the 5th batter comes to bat with multiple runners on more times in a season than any other spot other than the 4th batter. Gattis’ hard contact rate is so high that he’d arguably be more valuable than Freeman as the 4th batter, but it’s 50 cents in one hand and a half-dollar in the other. Now the decision to put Justin in the 3rd spot is also arguable. According to the book, it states that your best hitters should be in the 2 and 4 spots, the OBP machine in the 1st spot, the 3rd best hitter in the 5th spot and the 4th best hitter in the 3rd spot. For his career, Justin is a better hitter than Heyward, but he hasn’t been in the last few months. If Justin gets rolling, it might be time for a lineup change.

        The 6-8 positions are quite interesting as the book would have BJ batting 6th in front of CJ batting 7th simply due to BJ’s ability to steal a base and CJ’s ability to hit singles. Honestly, 6-8, I have no clue.

        When playing a 162-game season, optimizing scoring opportunities with your best hitters far overrides trying to protect your bad ones so they have more pitches to hit. Simply put: the scoring opportunities lost by putting Andrelton in the 2-hole would decrease the at-bats per game and per season of 3 far superior hitters.

        And the book I’m referring to is actually called “The Book”. It’s research is quite extensive.
        (replace “dot” with .)
        http://www.amazon dot com/The-Book-Playing-Percentages-Baseball/dp/1597971294

        • Mushy Peas

          I appreciate you taking the time to explain all that. I always like to hear the rationales behind it as opposed to folks just throwing out a list of names. I like to understand others’ thought processes because it may include something I haven’t considered. My only criticism really is that you can’t always go strickly by the book. There are such a variety of rosters with such a variety of players with different strengths and weaknessnes that can vary on any given day that all the pieces may rarely ever combine to produce the optimal outcome.
          There are just too many variables in baseball to consider in order to undoubtedly determine which order of the line-up will be the most productive on any given day. You can try to construct it via tendencies or via numbers, but no formula can account for everything. It makes it even more difficult when there are obvious holes in the line-up. I constructed my line-up based on what we have to work with and thinking along the lines of which player has demonstrated the most productivity from any given spot with respect to who is also hitting before and after them. This, along with the potential optimal outcome from each player. I still like the idea of putting Simba #2. As I said, he has done well in that spot before, but more importantly, I think leaving him in the eight hole will never allow him to reach his maximum level of productivity. It limits his ceiling and I essentially see that as a waste of sorts. Why not put players in a position where they have demostrated previous successes, that will maximize their own strengths, and will ultimately provide for greater opportunities for those who hit around them? That’s my eccentric philosphy if it’s even understable! I would never be so presumptuous to say that my way is the best way because, as I said, others may think of a variable I did not consider; however, I do think my rationales, though not traditional, are still theoretically sound.
          I’d break down my philosphy player by player, but that would be an extraordinarily long and complex comment…..and I write way too much already!