Heyward Should Lead From Middle

Jason Heyward

Jason Heyward

Continuing with my series on the Atlanta Braves batting order, I am going to discuss the fifth spot.  If you read my articles on the first four spots, you know that I don’t always agree with Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez.

So far my Braves batting order looks like this:  1. Schafer (against righties), B.J. Upton (against lefties) 2. Chris Johnson 3. Freddie Freeman 4. Evan Gattis.

Anyone missing you think should be included in my first four?  Fredi Gonzalez likes Heyward leading off and Justin Upton second.  Heyward was excellent leading off last season and JUP did decent job batting second.  I just prefer having two power players like that down in the order.  I also think that Schafer is ready this season to be a very good lead-off hitter, so that allows Heyward to drop back.

If anyone doubts that Jason Heyward is a team player, consider that last season at Fred’s request, he at times slid over and played center field and moved from the middle of the batting order to lead-off.  Lot of players would have either copped a bad attitude, or jaked it and been non-productive.  Heyward excelled at both of his new duties.

Quite frankly though, I’m surprised Heyward’s agent wasn’t raising holy stink.  Jason Heyward as a successful power hitter makes twice the money or more that Jason Heyward the successful lead-off hitter makes.

I think Heyward’s future with the Braves and in major league baseball, is hitting in the middle of the order.  With his size, strength and bat speed he has the chance to be one of the premier power hitters in baseball.  He’s not going to reach that potential leading off.

I also like alternating left/right/ left/right as much as possible and with that thought in mind, Heyward is a natural for the fifth slot behind Gattis.  Even though Gonzalez is going to have Heyward lead off to start the season, I think by the midway point or before, he will be back in the fifth or sixth spot where he belongs.

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  • RealJonButler

    While power is valued on the open market…I think you are grossly ignoring where contracts are headed ($5 mil per WAR) and JHEYs defense and OBP played a huge factor in his great WAR last year even with missing 360ish games.

    • Wayne Canon

      As odd as it is, I kinda like JHEY leading off. Sure, he certainly doesn’t look like the prototypical lead-off hitter, but he is producing there. (And how many times in a game does a lead-off hitter actually lead off?) He already has enough speed to concern pitchers. If he could learn how to consistently drag a bunt down the 1st base line he would be awesome.

    • Look at how much BUPton got and all anybody talked about was home many homers he had hit. The Braves don’t care about OBP, power is what they covet. I don’t think they look too hard at WAR, either.

  • Mike Crowe

    I agree with your first four, except for Upton. He would only be in the lineup on rainy days if I made the lineup card. Same for Ugla, until he’s traded to Mongolia for a yak or sent down to Danville as a utility player. I think it’s time to see if Schafer is going to be a productive full time player or not, and while I like him at leadoff too, I would just hit Heyward where ever he is productive. If he hits in the one hole, then he’s my leadoff guy.

    • Not even Upton against left-handed pitching? I think you have to try and salvage all the money you’ve spent. Showcasing for a trade is a pipe dream, but I could see him productive against left-handers. The guy can still steal bases.

      • Mike Crowe

        Not even against Little League lefthanded pitching. Okay, keep him around as a pinch runner then, or a late innings replacement for Fredi Gonzalez if you want, but I would go with Schafer out of the gate. Time to man up and accept the fact that Wren was watching the Three Stooges the day he made that “deal,” eat the salary, with boiled owl, and forget about trying to squeeze blood from a turnip. And how can you mention Upton without mentioning Ugla. They go together like peas and carrots. They should be brought to attention at home plate (a fitting place I would think) and have Bobby Cox come in and strip the “Braves” patch off their uniforms to the theme song from “Branded,” then tag them and release them back into the wild.

        • Based on B.J.’s numbers last season, I’m not good enough to try and debate you about whether or not he should play this season, Mike. The magazine in my gun is empty. But I do think the guy has had enough of a career and is young enough that you can’t just throw him away.

          • Mike Crowe

            I know my position is an easy one to take Jim. I like Ugla as a man, not so much BJ perhaps, but Ug is through in Altanta. BJ has the ability to be an average player and he’s here for the duration no doubt, as Fredi has to let co-manager Wren make up the lineup card according to salary. Seriously though, why is it that we know more than the suits here, and I’m not kidding. BJ’s posturing and attitude for instance. And Ugla, who couldn’t make the Rome team wasting at bats months on end. Why wasn’t he sent down to work it out? Heyward’s lunging and head movement at the plate, whilst standing in a squat position four yards from the plate. – no, he will never reach his potiential – bank on it. Simmons falling all over himself when he swings like a Little Leaguer. He should be a 300 hitter with his talent. Freeman, the most talented man on the team who hits 300 in his sleep could be a perinial 320 man if he didn’t uppercut and pop up half his contacts. Teach him to hit off a tee and level out his swing so that the bat stays in the strike zone long enough to drive the ball – duh! Now, explain this to me Jim, you’re a smart baseball guy. Are these players uncoachable because they make so much money? Why isn’t Walker and Fredi aware of these fundlemental errors? What I’m seeing are things every highschool baseball coach in America is seeing and yes, they are talking about it. I realize I’ve flogged a dead horse here, and I make jokes sometimes, but it is depressing to watch this team, with so much talent, tease us by winning on pure talent, then crash and burn when they get in the postseason against good pitching. This over achieving pitching isn’t going to last forever, and Washington reloaded their rotation. Oh well, too early to harp on it now I guess. I need to pace myself.