Lineup Suggestion

I’ve been meaning to write this for a couple of days now, but I finally got a couple of hours down time to sort through my thoughts and look up some numbers. Anyways, the Braves lineup could use a little adjustment right now. In a nutshell, I am suggesting moving Heyward up and Freeman down. I am not saying this because Heyward is “hotter than a dancin’ bobcat right now”, but if you look at the production thus far, it just makes sense. Here is what I suggest along with each players wOBA and wRC+. This is what I believe is the best available lineup the Braves can put out. Substitutions would fit in accordingly.

Player wOBA wRC
Bourn 0.354 124
Prado 0.370 135
Heyward 0.362 130
Uggla 0.346 119
McCann 0.316 96
Chipper 0.337 113
Freeman 0.312 98
Simmons 0.364 131
Pitcher

Freeman needs to be bumped down in the order. I am not sure what part of his struggles have been due to his eye and hand injuries, but either way his numbers are down from his rookie year and he should not be in the top of the order. Heyward on the other hand is currently one of the top three hitters on the team. Keeping him in the 7-hole is not optimizing the lineup. Having Bourn, .372 OBP, and Prado, .380 OBP, hitting in front of Heyward would give the team greater run scoring opportunities. Heyward also holds the edge against Freeman in OBP, SLG and ISO, giving no reason to believe he should not be hitting in the top of the lineup. One of the biggest problems with Freeman is his low OBP and BB%. He is a VERY aggressive hitter than doesn’t like to go deep into accounts. Until he changes this approach, or sees greater success to the adjustments pitcher make, he can’t be at the top of the order.

Moving Freeman down in the order might take some pressure off him that he might feel in the 3 or 5 holes, the spots he’s been hitting most of the season. Some fans feel as if Heyward hasn’t been who they thought he would be, probably because of the lofty expectations he came up with. He’s only 22, folks. He is producing at a very high rate for a player his age. This doesn’t even take into account he in one of the best defensive RF in the league. So lay off with the criticism, he doesn’t hate baseball.

I am fine with keeping McCann in the 5 hole even though he has technically been the worst regular in the lineup. First off, it keeps the right/left through the order, with Chipper obviously being switch. Second, he should see an improvement in luck as the season continues. A BABIP about .050 points off his career average should turn around when more balls start to drop. His FB% and HR/FB% have been pretty consistent with his career norms, but the balls in play should see a turn around.

Lets hope to see Heyward hit higher in the order soon. Switching the lineup, “just to mix things up” shouldn’t be the reason why this is done. It should be with a purpose to further optimize the lineup which can produce the greatest number of runs. It’s funny how “where Heyward hits” has always been a big topic of discussion. I don’t see that dying down anytime soon.

Be sure to follow on Twitter: @decisions_brave

UPDATE: (6/26 5:00 PM):

The Braves lineup v. Diamondbacks 6/26: Bourn (L), Heyward (L), Prado (R), McCann (L), Uggla (R), Jones (S), Freeman (L), Simmons (R), Hudson (R). Love!

The difference from the lineup I posted above is 2 & 3, and 4 & 5 being switched. Heyward hitting second is probably actually more ideal than 3rd. The 2 hitter is supposed to be one of the teams 3 best hitters who can get on-base. Either Prado or Heyward fits the bill. The only difference is it skews the R/L throughout the lineup. Either way, if played out a full season it would probably only net a couple runs difference, maybe a half of a win. Not a big deal either way, the important thing is that he’s been move to the top of the lineup and Freeman is moved down. Hopefully Freeman can become a little more selective with less pressure down there and start to find his groove.

Give Fredi credit for this lineup. This has now left all the responsibility off him, the lineup is as close to perfect as it will get. Should be fun.

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