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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