The past few years the Atlanta Braves batting order has not had a guy you would automatically pencil in at the cleanup spot. It has been cleanup by committee.
Now that Evan Gattis is the every day catcher, he is the logical choice to bat fourth. I’m not breaking any new ground, here. Fredi Gonzalez has already stated that Gattis will be his cleanup hitter this season. This is the second and last time Fredi and I will most likely agree with the same positions in the order.
Gattis will have to improve his production at the cleanup spot over what he did last season. Last season while batting fourth he hit .207, with a .257 on-base-percentage and a paltry .374 slugging percentage. But he did hit six homers and knocked in 30 runs in 179 at bats in the cleanup spot.
The reason why I think Gattis will thrive in the number four spot, he has proven to be a clutch hitter. Last season he came through in clutch, late game situations, better than any other player on the team and he also produced in the playoffs, hitting .357 against the Dodgers.
Gattis is an instinctive player who doesn’t over-analyze situations or his mechanics. He sees the ball and he swings as hard as he can. That will serve him well in the cleanup spot.
Last season the Braves used Gattis sporadically. He started at the beginning of the season and was highly productive, but when Brian McCann came back from injury, Gattis’ playing time became inconsistent. He also was bounced around between left field, first base and catcher. With regular at bats and a defined role all season, I expect Gattis to have a big year.
The say that life oftentimes comes full circle. When Evan Gattis was out of baseball and roaming around trying to find himself, he worked as a janitor. That former janitor is now the cleanup hitter for the Atlanta Braves…