Posted: 10:03 am Thursday, June 5th, 2014

Help Fredi (and me) build a better Braves’ lineup 

By Mark Bradley

Frustration at the plate? Say it ain't so. (Curtis Compton/AJC)

Frustration at the plate? Say it ain’t so. (Curtis Compton/AJC)

Today’s AJC offers a snippet of a discussion Fredi Gonzalez and yours truly had Wednesday regarding the maximization of what has been a minimally productive Atlanta Braves batting order. I suggested that Gonzalez, who makes out Ye Olde Lineup Card, might move the call-up Tommy La Stella into the No. 2 slot to maximize his singles-hitting skill.

Being a professional, Fredi G. identified the flaw in that thinking in a nanosecond. “Then you’ve got three left-handers in a row,” he said.

And you would: Heyward, La Stella and Freddie Freeman. And not just three left-handed hitters — the only three left-handed hitters in the Braves’ everyday eight. So that’s not what you’d want: All your lefties at the top and nothing but righties thereafter. (It would make the opposing manager’s late-inning pitching decisions rather easy, would it not?)

That said, the Braves’ lineup isn’t working. Gonzalez himself conceded the point after Wednesday’s 2-0 loss to Seattle, saying: “We’ve been shut out seven times, and we’re a team that shouldn’t be shut out because we’ve got so many talented offensive players.”

I’ve spent a goodly part of the past few hours giving thought to how I’d reconstruct this (admittedly imperfect) batting order, and the fruits, such as they may be, of that labor will be revealed soon. But today brings your chance to lobby the electorate (meaning me). Tell me how you’d do it. Who’d bat first? Who’d bat eighth? Where should La Stella hit?

This much I’ll tell you: Gonzalez’s quibble notwithstanding, I’d still let the rookie bat second. And now the figurative floor is yours.

From myajc.com: A new low — the Braves are outhit by the punchless Mariners.

203 comments
MattyIce22
MattyIce22

RF. Heyward

SS. Simmons

1B. Freeman

LF. J Upton

3B. Johnson

C .Gattis

2B. La Stella

P

CF. Schafer

GAstudent
GAstudent

Shoot, are you giving me complete control here? Can I make a few moves of my own? Can I be outrageously ballsy? Well here is what I'm gonna do.


1. Schafer CF

2. Simmons SS

3. Freeman 1B

4. JUpton LF

5. Heyward RF

6. Gattis C

7. La Stella 2B

8. Johnson 3B

9. P


The biggest wuestion in here is Schafer's ability to produce at all with more at bats. It looked like he turned a corner last year and then has not really had a chance to reclaim that. I don't know if he can, but to me it is worth a try because God knows, nothing else is working. Also, he would be able to occupy that leadoff spot. He has always had decent enough OBP. When you stick Heyward up there, I think you make the lineup too top heavy. I like distributing that production throughout.


This lineup also alternates bats L, R, L, R, L, R, L, R, Pitcher. You can't argue with that diversity. The key is to stick with Schafer long enough to give him a chance. That means more than 2 games in row from our manager who just took out La Stella tonight in favor of Uggla despite La Stella having almost as many multi hit games than Uggla already this year. This would require some patience until Schafer shows what he has. If nothing, then throw Heyward back up there and put B.J. back in the 2-hole to see some pitches.

Bravesfan54
Bravesfan54

Mark - I totally disagree with the implied premise of your challenge. On DOB's blog I recently cut and pasted the views of Bill James on the issue.  The long and short of his take on "batting order" is that only in the extreme does it make any difference.  The Braves' problem cannot be fixed by re-arranging the order. Do you realize that last year's two regulars (defined as 400+ AB's) hitting below .200 had never (never!) before happened in the history of baseball going back to 1876, yet the team won 96 games.  I rest my case.  

pruss27
pruss27

Simmons doesn't seem to strike out much & puts the ball in play ... Why is he not in the 2 hole?


1. Heyward

2. Simmons

3. Gattis

4. Freeman

5. J. Upton

6. Johnson 

7. Lastella

8. BJ Upton


Pat_Pending
Pat_Pending

Heyward (RF), Lastella (2B), J Upton (LF), Freeman (1B),

Gattis (C), Johnson (3B), Simmons (SS), BJUpton (CF).

G6773A
G6773A

Bring back Don Baylor!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 

rgpat
rgpat

1 heyward   2 LaStella  3 Freeman  4 Gattis  5 J Upton  6 C Johnson  7 Simmons 8 Schaeffer or BJ  9 pitcher

ColdSplash
ColdSplash

1. Jordan Schafer

2. La Stella

3. Freeman

4. Gattis

5. J.upton

6. Heyward

7. C.Johnson

8. Simmons

Mr. Wren, Believe this, own this : the BJ, Uggla, F.Gonzalez (and by extension the very existence of a Gerald laird baseball career) experiment is OVER, and has failed miserably.

iBalling
iBalling

1) New Coaches

2) New Coaches Line up

thedoctorisin1
thedoctorisin1

 We can all agree the offense this year has been surprisingly horrendous. Bj and Heyward are hitting better recently. Freeman is starting to struggle, Johnson and Simmons have struggled most of the year. Justin cannot get hits away from the Ted. I agree that three lefties hitting in a row is a mistake waiting to happen. So I believe that the lineup should look something like this!


1. Bj Upton

2. Tommy La Stella

3. Freddie Freeman

4. Evan Gattis

5. Justin Upton

6. Jason Heyward

7. Andrelton Simmons

8. Chris Johnson

9. Pitcher's Spot 


I like Bj in the first slot, because he is getting hot and he has speed (Get Him ON). Heyward had some luck hitting in the first slot, last year. This is a new year and a new team. La Stella is a Single machine (Get Him OVER). Freeman is the leader of the team, keep him there (Get Him IN). Gattis is a better clutch hitter than Justin Upton (Who is in a slump on the road, so knock him down some). 


If there are players that are struggling they need to be moved down. Dont keep placing guys where things worked last year. Apparently it is not working this year!!! Change it up, and find some better luck!


Ficklefan
Ficklefan

Replace Fredi ASAP. This Braves team needs a tough and demanding boss, a tough and demanding manager, a tough and demanding coach. They don't need a pal or a friend or a sympathetic ear going on about "how hard they try." They are loaded with talent, and look at them. It's beyond pathetic. They should be playing .600 plus ball, not just above .500 ball. They have killer pitching and they are pissing it away game by game. No more get along, go along.  


Do that and then find other equally tough and demanding coaches for the staff. Light these guys up.  Push them, challenge them, torture them. Way past time to stop respecting their "integrity" as "professional players."  They don't have any. If they did, they would have some offense and know the fundamentals.  It is so obvious what this team needs that  it is amazing that it has to be voiced by someone not in a responsible position inside the Braves' organization. But, if winning one the weakest divisions in the MLB year after year is all that is talked about, all that is required . . . then nothing needs to be done. 

ricardocortez
ricardocortez

1- LaStella

2-Simmons

3-Freddie

4-J.Up

5-J-Hey

6-Gattis

7-BJ or Jordan S.

8-Johnson (hit a ton there last year)

hoopcoch
hoopcoch

1. BJ

2. J. Up

 3. Freddie

 4.Gattis

 5.Jason H.

 6. Simmons

 7. Johnson

 8. Pitcher

 9. Lastella (2nd leadoff)                      


MichaelHannigan
MichaelHannigan

PREDICTION: This will be the Miami (aka Florida) Marlin's first NL East Championship.  My money is almost on deposit as I write.

Dockins2
Dockins2

I am so so tired of the @bjupton2  haters. The man had an off year, has worked on hitting and taken advice from more hitting guru's than anyone on the team. He has heart, and plays as hard as anyone. Anybody who knows baseball can obviously see the difference in his swing. It isn't some torid pace, its that he has it figured out. Watch and see, Im driving the BJ bus when anyone decides to jump on after he is tearing the cover off the ball. BTW anyone notice what he does on the basepaths? Doesnt have that many steals but he haunts pitchers reminds me of Furcal in the day.


GO BRAVES! GO BJ!

DrPhill
DrPhill

Fredi doesn't read these columns, but here's my solution.  Put Fredi at 3rd base coach, and bring Bobby back as an interim manager.  Send Wren to the golf course along with Sutton and Simpson.

twentysixpointtwo
twentysixpointtwo

Mr Bradley.....Frank Wren makes out the line up card. Hence Dan Uggla and BJ Upton being in the starting lineup for month after month with very little production. Wren wants to his bonus baby free agent signing errors to play. I think Fredi would rather win games.

tmc
tmc

1. J. Shafer - CF

2. A. Simmons - SS

3. F. Freeman - 1B

4. J. Upton - LF

5. J. Heyward - RF

6. E. Gattis - C

7. T. LaStella - 2B

8. C. Johnson - 3B

9                       - P


If when Gattis sits, swap Chris Johnson to 6 spot and G. Laird to 8 spot. When BJ plays, he leads off and leave everyone else in the same spot.. play for 3 weeks or more and see what happens.

It aint that hard. Unless Frank Wren demands BJ Upton plays so he doesn't look bad...

EScott1028
EScott1028

I'd like to see Freddie strong our most productive hitters together in the heart of our lineup, 3-6. BJ has been good as of late and CJ has been horrible.

1.BJ Upton (i trust his improvements at the plate & base stealing ability)

2. La Stella (really good contact hitter)

3. Freddie (best overall hitter)

4. Justin Upton (best power hitter)

5. Jason Heyward (finally in a RBI producing role)

6. Evan Gattis (clutch power hitter)

7. Andrellton Simmons (why not)

8. Chris Johnson (maybe he'll get hot and give BJ an RBI opp)

highfive
highfive

La Stella

Simmons

Heyward

Freeman

Gattis

BJ Upton

Johnson

J Upton*


Justin Upton takes ways to many strikes, guess way to much and does not hit in pressure situations. 


Waredawg
Waredawg

@Jazzy Braves  

With  our current personnel, your proposed lineup is pretty good. But I'd flip Heyward and La Strella, with Heyward's power likely to offset TS's lack of speed if he gets on. Never understood why one of your

best potential power hitters was leading off. Just because there was "no better option" is a lame excuse. Create a better option by a trade, but that would be a defacto admission of BJ's failure, as only

2nd or CF are available for said "better option". Gattis needs to start 85-90% games at catcher. He'll hit 35-40 hrs and drive in 90+ if he does. Gerald's slightly better defense doesn't justify his playing time with our offensive woes (sub .220). 


I also give Schaeffer a start every 3-4 days in CF for the next 30 days or so. Let's see if we can get him going, it's not like BJ is killing the ball, still around .210 and on pace for 40 rbi's or less. Those are running you out of the league stats.


Our biggest problem is the lack of balance on our current roster (100% Wren's fault), no leadoff hitter,

too many free swingers, no situational hitters, no high average guys, etc. Bench is horrible, and also unbalanced. Doumit is a complete waste. No utility player, and on and on. And Freddi does a terrible job with what he does have.


We need to make a few moves, even some small moves would be helpful. We have some trade pieces,

too much starting pitching and catching (when Bethancourt is considered). Schaeffer, Cunningham, Costanza, and Terd might all have some value towards a mid-level outfielder, who could hit leadoff. Arguably, even the pen will be top heavy when Walden, and later Venters return. If we aren't going to use these guys, use them to get us some help now. A trade or two might shake the team out of it's complacency.


Wood is wasted in the pen. Start him or trade him. He has real value.


Bottomline, without some major changes, more of last two years, even if we make playoffs, which is by no means guaranteed. This is an above average team (85-88 wins) that plays in weak division and scares no one. Time to make some repairs. GO BRAVES!

Intruder
Intruder

Hit BJ 8th no matter what. The opposing team might be dumb enough to walk him intentionally to get to the pitcher if anyone was in scoring position.

UncleTom
UncleTom

1.  Schafer

2. Simmons

3. La Stella

4. Justin U

5. Freddie

6. Gaddis

7. Heyward

8. Johnson.


Yes, I know that the Big Joke has gone on a rampage and is up to .218.  But he won't keep that torrid pace up for long and he's at best a mediocre----and lazy------outfielder.   Schafer was over .300 for a lot of last year when given a chance to play.  He knows the strike zone, will take walks and even hit to the opposite field.  


BoyDukeBeBrave
BoyDukeBeBrave

La Stella

BJ

Freeman

J. Upton

Heyward

Gattis

Johnson

Pitcher

Simmons 

Jazzy Braves
Jazzy Braves

1.Heyward; the best leadoff option and has put together another hitting streak.OBP is going up.

2 . LaStella; perfect two hole hitter that makes contact and can spray the ball to all parts of the field.Can hit and run with.

3.J.Upton; Hitting him here to split up the lefties, but he has to hit better on the road.

4.Freeman; Slumping a bit, but he will get back to hitting.Would be 3 hitter, but need to split up the lefties.

5.Gattis; Batting behind the top 4 OBP guys and should drive in a lot of runs.Needs to be more patient at the plate and not swing at a lot of first pitches.Should be walking more, but I can live with the 25-30 home runs or more.

6.Johnson; Hard to repeat last year, but he will get more consistent. Strikeouts and double plays are piling up but like the way he uses all parts of the field.

7.B.Upton; Hitting here because when he gets on, can swipe bases and don't want him trying to steal with the pitcher batting.Hitting better, but not a 2 hole hitter.

8.Simmons; Can hit for a better average if he goes the other way more and not roll over those outside pitches.Would be 1 on this team if he had a higher OBP.

brad37
brad37

Johnson

LaStella

J Upton

Freeman

Gattis

Heyward

BJ Upton

Simmons

gaboy983
gaboy983

Switch J UP and Freedie around...Freeman has been super cold for the last month maybe the change would do him some good. BJ is doing much better in the two whole this time around and J Hey has started to heat up so I wouldn't touch them....Move La Stella to 6th because C. Johnson isn't getting the job done.

tony_austin
tony_austin

LaStella
Simmons
Freddie
J UP
Jason
Gattis
BJ
Chris


I wouldn't mind seeing LaStella bat in front of the P but I don't want AS leading off.  If LaStella hits 8th I'd probably keep Jason at leadoff and move Gattis, BJ, and Chris up one spot.

seminoleking
seminoleking

1. GOMEZ


2. HEYWARD


3. FREEMAN


4. STANTON


5. GATTIS


6. SIMMONS


7. LA STELLA


8. JOHNSON


CHIPPER JONES HITTING COACH


TERRY PENDLETON MANAGER


BOBBY COX GENERAL MANAGER


A NEW BALL PARK


A TROPHY CASE FULL OF RINGS


LOL

raylboyer
raylboyer

simmons,johnson,freeman,j upton,heyward,gattis,la stella,b upton

Baghead
Baghead

@ColdSplash While the C Johnson may not be a fail in terms of BJ and Uggla, it will also down as yet another ridiculous, not thought out, overpaid signing.  

Birdhair
Birdhair

@Ficklefan Replacing Fredi isn't going to change the composition of the roster. No manager can win with a bunch of low OBP out-making inning enders. I feel bad for FG. Wren forces losers such as Uggla, B.J., Chris Johnson, Alex Gonzalez and Ankiel on him. And because of the ludicrous salaries that Wren throws at these players they are forced into the lineup and FG has no choice.

Players dont need the push. What is extra push going to do? Help motivate the team for an additional day or two during the season? Gimme a break. You're so far off. It's been 6 years going on 7 and FW has won a total of 2 playoff games! 0 playoff series wins. He walked into a very strong foundation & has done nothing but fail.

Baghead
Baghead

@Dockins2 I wouldn't say he plays as hard as anyone.  He's definitely trying, but historically he has a habit of lollygagging, complaining and creating conflict in the clubhouse.  He needs to shut up and take that third non-swinging strike straight down the middle like a man.  Walk out of the box and don't whine to the ump.  Like you, I'm not jumping off his bus, especially with so much $$ at stake, but I want to see him keep this up for several months and not make ridiculous errors.  BJ hasn't torn the cover off the ball in 8 years.  

DawgNole
DawgNole

@tmc

Wren already looks bad--whether or not BJ plays.

LarvellBlanks
LarvellBlanks

@EScott1028 That's not a bad lineup.  Well, relatively speaking.  And I don't trust BJ's improvement, but I look at who's on the bench and don't see anybody clearly better to put in center (offensively, at least -- I think Laird might be a better fielder).

Rick_C
Rick_C

@UncleTom Schafer was given multiple chances to play before he became a bench player.  He didn't perform, and that's why he was released by the worst team in baseball who had every incentive to keep him, and is now a bench player.  As far as knowing the strike zone and taking walks, both his career SO% and BB% are worse than BJ's.

UncleTom
UncleTom

@Rick_C @UncleTom Everything you said is true, except so is what I said----when given a chance, the guy was over .300 for a good while.  The Big Joke has never come close to that.  Probably neither one is the ultimate solution, but I'll take Jordan over the Big JOke.

LarvellBlanks
LarvellBlanks

@Dockins2 @DawgNole @bjupton2 It's not just the "bone head errors" -- it's all the plays he doesn't make that DON'T get scored as errors.  Letting a pop-up drop, losing a ball in the sun, turning four different ways running backwards before letting the ball go over his shoulder.  He looks worse than any centerfielder I've ever seen, and very rarely makes any spectacular plays.

Rick_C
Rick_C

@UncleTom No he hit 300 for less than 150 PA over 3 months as a fourth outfielder.  It was a combination of not facing LHP, BABIP luck, and limited playing time.  He's never played well for an extended period of time as an everyday player.

I don't expect BJ to hit 300 either, but for the record he did actually do that in his first full season as an everyday player.

patriotdog
patriotdog

Shafer's 'Babip luck' is due in large part to his blazing speed. When he puts it in play he can get an infield hit out of a routine grounder to short. No one else on this dysfunctional team can do that.

Rick_C
Rick_C

@patriotdog Then why is his career BABIP only 311?  For the first three months of 2013, he put up 474, 375, and 423.  Those are not sustainable numbers.

southgabrave
southgabrave

BJ is a LIFETIME .247 hitter!!!  Enough said.....

Rick_C
Rick_C

@southgabrave ..and Schafer is a lifetime 224 hitter also with less OBP and SLG than BJ.  There's a reason why BJ got paid and Schafer didn't.