Tuesday, March 19, 2019

2019 Braves Potential Lineup

I listened to an interview on 680 the Fan this morning here in Atlanta, and the Front Row Show had Brian Snitker on to talk about the team. One of the most interesting discussion points was Ronald Acuna, and how impressive he is coming off his rookie season. So impressive, in fact, that Brian Snitker said he's planning to bat him in clean-up spot for opening day.

I tried to remember the last time a Braves player went from his rookie year to batting clean-up for the team. The one that immediately jumped to mind was David Justice, who in 1990 after his rookie year hit in the 4th slot in many of his games (42), but he also batted 5th and 6th quite a bit that year. That may not be the most recent one, but it was certainly the name I though of easily.

The conversation got me thinking. If I'm Brian Snitker, how would I set the lineup today?

Here's my thoughts of who to put where, and why.

  1. Ender Inciarte/Ozzie Albies - Of the 4 guys who have some speed, Ender has the best on-base percentage with the lowest slugging. He's not going to be a home run hitter, but he can get to first and possibly stretch that into a double while driving the pitcher crazy on the bags. Ozzie can go here against Left handed pitching, which I'll explain later on.
  2. Josh Donaldson - This is where he wants to hit, and in his last full season he hit 33 homers with .560 slugging. I want him to get as many ABs this year as we can for his $23M
  3. Freddie Freeman - That's his spot, fight him.
  4. Ronald Acuna - He had highest OPS on the team, and he was a rookie last year. I think this is the perfect spot for him to have his 26 homers he hit in a shortened 2018 season to turn into a lot more 2 and 3 run homers.
  5. Nick Markakis/Ozzie Albies - I want a guy who can hit for higher average here, and drive in the runners with possibly 2 outs. Nick is the best contact hitter we have on the team (who also has no speed and thus won't hit lead-off), and his .308 average and 35 RBIs with 2 outs really put a dagger in teams psychologically. When you can score runs instead of ending up with nothing for an inning, that's a big swing in every game. Case in point, the 2018 World Champion Red Sox were TERRORS with 2 outs, and that made a big difference in why they won the title. I've put Ozzie here as well but I'll explain why in the #6 slot
  6. Ozzie Albies/Johan Camargo - Ozzie can go in either the 5-6 slot until he can figure out how to hit Right handed pitching, which is the majority of the ABs he's going to get. His splits there are .696 OPS against RHP, and .905 against LHP, which is a huge difference. Against lefties he will move up in the order. Also, until somebody tells me we're going to have somebody else play 3rd, I'm assuming Camargo gets the job. He's a fine hitter, .800+ OPS last year, and he can play most positions in the field.
  7. Brian McCann/Tyler Flowers - The two catchers will rotate, but I think putting them in the 7th slot makes sense. Tyler is a mediocre hitter at best, but Brian if he can revert to 2017 form before the 2018 injuries is a lot more dangerous with his bat. 
  8. Dansby Swanson - I've seen nothing that says Dansby is getting benched, but this is a make-it-or-break-it year for him. Otherwise, one of the younger upstarts will eventually replace his spot on the infield by either taking it directly, or rotating somebody else like Ozzie or Camargo into SS. 
  9. Pitcher - Because it's still the NL until they force the DH on us.

Thoughts? How would you rank them heading into the season?


EDIT: Left out my commentary on Ozzie, stupid.

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