Continuing with our series on the Atlanta Braves batting order, I am going to talk about the number six position. I think Justin Upton should bat sixth for the Braves. and that is despite the fact that he had a .301/.384/.538 in the number two slot in the order last season.
Fredi Gonzalez has already indicated that Upton will again bat second this season, based on his numbers last season in the two-hole, that is hard to argue. I can point out to you that Upton hit only .211 in the first inning, so even though he produced well at the top of the order, it wasn’t starting off the game and that is why you stack the top of the order in the first inning.
Wherever he bats in the order, the Atlanta Braves need more consistency from Justin Upton in 2014. When you look at his 2013 numbers in totality, they show that he was productive. Upton had a season that is very close to his career numbers. When you start dissecting Justin Upton’s 2013, some red flags jump up.
Upton hit 27 home runs last season, which is good production. The problem is that he hit 12 in April and 8 in August, the other four months he hit just 7 home runs total. He also had 35 RBIs in April and August, only 35 in the other four months. In four out six months last season, Upton had an OPS less than .758.
I prefer having Chris Johnson bat second and Upton sixth. Johnson has become a punch hitter and is very good at guiding the ball up the middle and to right field. He moves runners and is a more consistent hitter than Upton. Upton is a free swinger and I’d like him to stay that way, and I’d like him to do it from the sixth spot in the order.
Justin Upton needs to drive in more runs this season and he needs to even out his production. The main reason I prefer him hitting sixth is that he isn’t consistent enough on a day in and day out basis to hit at the top of the order in front of Freeman and Gattis. There were too many long stretches last season where he gave the Braves very little, and when he bats second, all that does is give opponents the opportunity to pitch around the middle of the Braves order.
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