The Atlanta Braves 2014 Leading Men

Jordan Schafer

Jordan Schafer

Trying to guess what the Atlanta Braves batting order will be in 2014 is like trying to guess who will win all the brackets in the NCAA basketball tournament.  For instance, who would have thought at this time last year that Jason Heyward would ignite the Braves from the lead-off spot?

I’m not going to guess what Fredi Gonzalez will do about the lead-off spot this season, but I am going to give you my opinions on what makes most sense and why.

In the lead-off spot I want a guy who can get on base and has fourth gear speed.  Sure Heyward did a great job batting first last season, but I don’t want him leading off.  Having Heyward taking pitches and slapping the ball is like driving a Ferrari in the right lane.  As Heyward continues to develop physically and at the plate, he has the potential to be one of the most feared power hitters in the game.  I want him hitting further down in the line-up and developing his power stroke.

Jordan Schafer should bat lead-off against right-handed pitching this season.  He showed mental and physical maturity last season, and lets not forget…not all that long ago Schafer was the number one prospect in the Braves organization.

Schafer showed what he could do last season, before suffering a leg injury.  Schafer is also an upgrade defensively over B.J. Upton.

B.J. Upton bats lead-off against lefties and needs to start going to right-field more and forget trying to jerk everything into downtown Atlanta.  B.J. already has his money, he doesn’t need to hit home runs and drive in runs to get paid.  He needs to help his team win games.  He can do that by focusing on getting on base and using his speed to put pressure on the defense.  If he can’t do that, then he needs to stake out a position on the bench next to the Gatorade.

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  • rick staley

    Agree wholeheartedly with your suggestion Jim regarding the platoon in CF and at the appex of the batting order too. I don’t care if the Braves over payed for Bossman Upton in 2013 because it brought his brother Justin to Atlanta. I would love to see the Braves lock up Justin because he has avoided injury in his career much better than Jason Heyward. J-Hey seemingly has his eyes set on Broadway…imho.

    • Rick, the injuries can be frustrating, but Jason’s injuries last season were certainly unlucky and not an indictment on his physical make-up. What I was impressed with was how he was able to come back so quick after getting blasted in the face. That type situation has been a career-ending event for some players. Personally I’d like to see Justin have a more consistent season and not load up his stats in April and then coast the rest of the season with slightly above average production. Lets hope.

    • Rick James

      Jason was raised in Georgia and was a Braves fan, he wants to be in Atlanta not “Broadway”. Besides if he was ready to leave he wouldn’t have signed a new deal, he would have let arbitration play out.

      • I agree with you, Rick. I think J-Hey is an Atlanta Braves man. Although who knows.. at some point it can be nice to get away from mom and dad and all your buds and be your own man.

      • rick staley

        I respect your opinion Rick James, but i disagree with why he signed recently buying up his arb-eligibility. He is guaranteed the $13.3 million so he can now just relax and if he signs an extension with Atlanta, that would be awesome!

        However, after his first injury in 2010 a reporter covering the Braves ask Jason about becoming the face of the franchise when Chipper & McCann left. His response was, “it is way too early for such talk(agreed), and since I grew up a Yankees fan too…well, the future is not here yet. Thus, I’ll just worry about rehab and my rookie season for now.” Clear as mud regarding his FA destination was my thought.

  • dan harvey

    Hi Jim. You confused me a bit. I think you stated Jordan should play everyday, but BJ should leadoff against lefties. First, I loved Jason in the leadoff spot last late year. As you said, though, hehais too much power to not be in the middle of the lineup. If it between batting Jason first versus second, though, where he batted much of last season, then his power factor has already been somewhat compromised anyway. But, back to Justin and BJ. If Schafer has a good spring then I hope FG gives him the CF position and leadoff spot everyday regardless of who is on the mound.

    • Good catch, Dan. I was thinking that Schafer should play all the time against righties, but not against lefties. Change made. I like Jordan against righties but he struggled against lefties. I also think that B.J. is talented enough that you want him to play and get his confidence back. If he can get it turned around it would be huge for the Braves. Big if, though.

  • HCH101

    I think Jordan should play every day, because he is the best defensively and has an uncanny Knack for getting on base and then putting pressure on the defense, More than anything else I want the Braves to win. GO BRAVES!!

    • Jordan hit .129 last season against lefties, so he will have to step up his production in that area if we are going to see him play every day.

      • Mike Crowe

        BJ hit .128 against lefty starters, the worst in baseball. Danny Boy Uggla was second. You were saying?

  • Mike Crowe

    Platooning at the major league level is embarrassing. That’s for football and for giving a manger something to make him feel useful between making up the lineup card and going out to pull the starting pitcher. Schafer isn’t going to hit against lefties if he never faces them. If he can’t, then find somebody that can be halfway consistant against both. Fredi Gonzo has patients with Upton and Ugla to fail all the way through September – six months ……… excuse me just a moment please, I still can’t get over that one. …… Okay, but he won’t let Schafer face lefties for a couple months to see if he can learn to hit lefties. Let BJ face lefties in Japan and let’s see if Schafer is going to be a full time major league leadoff man.

    • Mike, what about BJ’s great years in Tampa? What about Uggla’s big power years in Florida? Have you forgotten those?

      • MC

        BJ has never had a great year. Perhaps a great postseason once I think, but he’s been an average player who got a superstar deal for reasons unbeknownst to many. Different league, different system, different manager. Yes, I do remember Uggla the Brave killer, but is that what we needed? Perhaps, but I didn’t like the trade sending Infante to Florida – a superior fielder, who almost won the batting title in his last year here. Uggla’s career season average is 166 SO. Too many wasted at bats even when he was productive. Both guys have a lifetime BA of 146 and 148 respectively. But at the end of the day, in baseball, it’s what have you done for me lately, and the answer to that is “Not much.” Uggla we have enough history on as a Brave. Let’s just hope BJ has a comeback and is restored to his former status of average player.