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  • 02/10/2013, 07:00PM ET

Who should bat leadoff for the Braves

CuntryBlumpkin (305-247-64) vs OlderthanDirt (88-37-13)
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As most of you know, when the Braves let Michael Bourn walk, they left themselves without a legitimate leadoff hitter.

Stolen bases are a pretty stat and all, but the most important job a leadoff hitter has is getting on base, seeing a lot of pitches and setting the table for the big bats behind you.

The only players on last season's Braves that had a higher OBP than my choice were Martin Prado and Chipper Jones, and neither are on the team anymore.

Justin Upton had a slightly higher OBP last season, he's definitely not a right fit for a leadoff hitter.

Andrellton Simmons, the common choice right now only has around 40 games of MLB experience under his belt, he needs to be in the 8th hole at least to start the season.

My choice won't steal more than 10 bases, and he will rack up his share of strikeouts, and there's little to no chance that he will leadoff a game for the Braves at all this season, but my choice to bat leadoff was the NL leader in walks last season, none other than Dan Uggla.

Even when Uggla struggles, he still racks up a lot of walks, gets on base and sees a lot of pitches, and big bats will be behind him.


WE are probably the biggest Braves' Homers on this site. IF fact probably does not even come close, we are the biggest homers.

I have thought of this situation. I have Blogged on it. I have had several discussions with several other baseball enthusiasts and we all seem to ponder this heavily since there is no clear cut choice.

However, never in a million years would I put Dan Uggla in the leadoff role. I don't care how many times he walks he does not have the plate presense required to set the table for the rest of the team.

Dan does not have the speed you look for at the top of the lineup to set up the next batter for good pitches. He only had 7 SB attempts all of last season and only made 4 of those. Most the time the #2 guy gets good looks at a lot of fastballs if a speedy leadoff guy gets on. Dan does not present that problem to most pitchers.

Next, Why waste 90% of Dan's homers? The value in letting Dan strike out 150 + times is that he can put you ahead with a two or three run shot on occasion. That's his worth. A solo shot from the leadoff spot is nice but it does not match the 150+ strikeouts he is going to have.

I will make my case for Simmons in second.


Let's be honest here, the only base stealing threats on the team(Heyward and the two Uptons) are expected to be our biggest source of power and RBIs in the middle of the lineup. They're not exactly high on base guys, and with Simmons you're trusted what is essentially a rookie with not so great plate dicipline to set the table. Let's see Simmons take a few walks before we put him at the top of the order.


Uggla was a waste hitting 7th last season. Sure, he had a few 3 run homers, but his walks were very underappreciated because he had no one hitting behind him. Pastornicky/Janish/Jack Wilson most of the season and a short stint of Simmons and then the pitcher.


Hitting Dan at leadoff gives real value to his good eye and ability to see a lot of pitches, and with Heyward, Freeman and the Upton brothers behind him, Dan will see better pitches to hit.

Bottom line is Dan gets on base more than any player on this team, and we don't have a realistic speedy leadoff guy, so the next best choice is the hitter that gets on base a lot. And cry about strikeouts all you want, but last season Michael Bourn struck out almost as much as Uggla with a fraction of the walks.


You simply cannot have someone that strikes out once in every three at bats leading off.

Let's talk about Dan's walks last year. You put it nicely when you pointed out no one behind him was hitting well. That accounts for Dan not getting pitched to very much which accounted for his walks. So, what is his excuse for all the strike outs? He has struck out 149 times or more the last 6 seasons.

Simmons had enough ABs last year that he is no longer a rookie. His injury kept us from seeing his full potential. What we did see however was he has the ability to serve as an everyday major leaguer and he fits the leadoff mold more than anyone else in the lineup.

When he batted 8th in the lineup, pitchers were going to make darn sure he did not walk to give them a chance to clear the pitcher. Thus, he did not walk as often. BUT, he also batted .289 which was a dang sight better than Dan's .220.

Simmons has NEVER had 100 strike outs total in his professional career. In over 1000 ABs he still has fewer strike outs than Dan has in any of his last 6 seasons. You have to remember as well that he made the jump from AA to the Majors. So his .289 is pretty impressive to me.

MTC


Well, Michael Bourn put up about the same strikeout rate as Uggla last season and didn't get on base near as much.

High strikeout totals are common place in today's game. The Braves will likely lead the NL in strikeouts by a wide margin, but the thing is, I don't see the difference between a player striking out and a player grounding out to first. The result is the same, and there has to be a baserunning blunder for a strikeout to produce a double play.


I don't care how many times Dan strikes out. The fact of the matter is he gets on base more than anybody else on the team. Yeah, his spot in the order contributed to his walk total, but also contributed to his lack of production, and despite that, Dan was still near the team lead in runs scored.

And let's also factor in that while Uggla might not be a basestealing threat, he is the smartes baserunner on the team.

Simmons needs more than 40 games of MLB experience before you can toss him into the leadoff spot, maybe at some point, but not to start this season.

When you don't have a legit leadoff hitter, a guy that takes his walks and sees a lot of pitches is the next best thing, and that's Dan Uggla.


C'mon Outlaw, you watch just as many games as I do and you KNOW that the only reason Dan sees so many pitches is that every Pitcher in the NL throws him all that outside breaking crap to try to get him out. They know that he will swing at that crap and get himself out more than he will do any damage to them. When they get too trashy, Dan does have enough eye discipline to let them slide, ergo , he walks.

And when you apply the logic the opponents used for throwing him all the trash it makes sense. I'll give him nothing to hit and If I walk him oh well, there's no one behind him and he can't steal

Bourn led the NL in the number of pitches thrown last year and that does not mean a hill of beans if you are not productive. Why do you think the Braves did not pursue him any harder?

You can go ahead and fill out your opening day lineup card now.

Simmons - RH
Heyward - LH
BJ Upton- RH
McCann- LH
J10up10- RH
Freeman- LH
Uggla- RH
Francisco/Johnson LH/RH
Pitcher-

Freddie is hot on Simmons and I am almost certain he will trust him in leadoff when spring training rolls around. I feel confident that Simmons will earn the spot then as well.


Nice TD. Thanks!

February 10, 2013  07:13 PM ET

Interesting and ballsy choice.

February 10, 2013  07:16 PM ET

Well nevermind. I take the ballsy part back. He led the team in OBP behind those guys you mentioned and the only other 2 guys even close are also "HR" hitters for the Braves. Still interesting though. lol

February 10, 2013  08:11 PM ET
QUOTE(#2):

Well nevermind. I take the ballsy part back. He led the team in OBP behind those guys you mentioned and the only other 2 guys even close are also "HR" hitters for the Braves. Still interesting though. lol

I didn't have enough characters to really get into the meat of my argument, so I'll save it for when someone accepts.

But, there is no ideal leadoff hitter on the team(well, Constanza and Reed Johnson have leadoff potential, but they won't see many starts). This is really the best choice for the weakest part of the lineup.

February 11, 2013  01:53 AM ET

an unorthodox and interesting choice.

February 11, 2013  07:40 AM ET
QUOTE:

Have to go with Upton. J-UP^^^

Just me personally, I think J-Up and J-Hey are best used in spots to drive in runs, and with them batting behind Uggla, maybe Uggla will get some better pitches to hit, unlike last season when Uggs was stuck in the 7th hole and had the all mighty Paul Janish and the pitcher's spot behind him most of the year.

And if you meant BJ Upton, there's no legit argument for a guy who had a bellow .300 OBP last season to bat leadoff.

February 11, 2013  09:13 AM ET
QUOTE(#3):

But, there is no ideal leadoff hitter on the team

Agreed

February 11, 2013  02:28 PM ET

.289 might be a better batting average, but Dan still got on base quite a bit more often than Simmons last season.

Didn't have room for that in the argument.

February 11, 2013  02:28 PM ET
QUOTE(#3):

............................But, there is no ideal leadoff hitter on the team.................................

When you think about it there is about 20+ teams in MLB that do not have an "ideal" leadoff man so that make do with who they have. That is , if you are talking about the Rickey Henderson, Kenny Lofton or Vince Coleman type. There are just not that many power hitting, disciplined speedsters in the league.

February 11, 2013  02:50 PM ET
QUOTE(#8):

.289 might be a better batting average, but Dan still got on base quite a bit more often than Simmons last season.Didn't have room for that in the argument.

That really only applies if you figure Dan had 563 At Bats compared to Simmons' 166.

Dan also struck out 1 in every 3.1 ABs while Simmons only struck out 1 in every 7.9 ABs. That is a huge difference.

When Dan had the opportunity to shine in the top of the order last year his average and production suffered greatly.

February 11, 2013  04:31 PM ET
QUOTE(#10):

That really only applies if you figure Dan had 563 At Bats compared to Simmons' 166. Dan also struck out 1 in every 3.1 ABs while Simmons only struck out 1 in every 7.9 ABs. That is a huge difference. When Dan had the opportunity to shine in the top of the order last year his average and production suffered greatly.

Dan has never had the opportunity to bat in the top of the order. He's been middle of the order most of his career, near bottom most of last season.

Strikeouts are an overrated stat on both sides. They drive me crazy like everyone else when a player on my team strikes out, but with the bases empty, what's the difference between striking out and having a home run robbed by the center fielder?

Dan gets on base, and at the top of the line up with Heyward, Freeman and the Uptons behind him, he might just see a few more fastballs to hit. This would by no means be a permanent fix, just to fill in until we see if Simmons can handle setting the the table.

Keep in mind, not only do we not have a real leadoff hitter, we also lost the definition of a number 2 hitter in Prado.

February 11, 2013  04:49 PM ET

And keep in mind, this who should be, not who will be.

And, depending on who's playing third, my lineups would be:

1. Uggla
2. Johnson
3. Heyward
4. J-Up
5. Freeman
6. BJ-UP
7. McCann(if healthy, if not, put Laird in the 8 hole)
8. Simmons
9. Pitcher

Or the Francisco lineup:

1. Uggla
2. Simmons
3. Heyward
4. J-Up
5. Freeman
6. BJ-Up
7. McCann
8. Francisco


But I have a feeling that Chris Johnson will ultimately win the the full time job at third.

February 11, 2013  04:53 PM ET
QUOTE(#12):

But I have a feeling that Chris Johnson will ultimately win the the full time job at third.

Johnson, unlike Francisco isn't completely useless against lefties like Francisco, and despite being right handed, he hits righties better than lefties. Of course Francisco has more power, but Johnson is an all around better hitter, and was coached by Chipper's godfather in high school.

February 11, 2013  05:17 PM ET

Good throwdown guys. One thing for certain when I look at that lineup: you're right when you say that there are going to be some K's.

February 11, 2013  05:49 PM ET

Good TD. May have to read it a couple more times....

I think Simmons will be the lead off and I think Justin Upton will hit 3rd or 4th and BJ 5th or 6th. I like Heyward in the 2 hole.

Simmons
Heyward
J Upton
Freeman
BJ upton
McCann
Uggla
Francisco/Johnson

February 11, 2013  09:03 PM ET

Simmons is going to shine this year. He did great this offseason.

February 12, 2013  11:15 PM ET

Batting Uggla in the lead off spot would be extremely unorthodox, to say the least.

In my personal opinion it would actually be something much worse than merely "unorthodox", but nobody asked for my opinion, so... yeah.

 
February 12, 2013  11:16 PM ET
QUOTE(#15):

Good TD. May have to read it a couple more times....I think Simmons will be the lead off and I think Justin Upton will hit 3rd or 4th and BJ 5th or 6th. I like Heyward in the 2 hole.SimmonsHeywardJ UptonFreemanBJ uptonMcCannUgglaFrancisco/Johnson

I say

Simmons
BJ
Justin
Heyward
Freeman
Uggla
McCann

and so on and so forth.

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