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Fredi Gonzalez continues to bat Jason Heyward sixth

Apr 15, 2011, 12:30 PM EDT

Jason Heyward

I told myself that I wasn’t going to get too upset about the Braves batting order because batting order doesn’t matter a great deal, but I’m only human, my biggest fanboy crush of a baseball player continues to be left on the basepaths because no one behind him can drive him in and, dammit, I’m allowed to be emotional about this stuff from time to time.

Dave O’Brien of the AJC has an extended discussion of the problem today. The upshot: Fredi Gonzalez likes balance and lefty-righty stuff and, hey, you can’t let opposing teams pitch around Dan Uggla!  Dan “.160/.192/.360″ Uggla.  Heaven forfend. He’s sticking with Heyward in the six-hole. At this point it wouldn’t shock me if he was doing it simply so that no one can say he caved to the pressure that I and other complainers are applying.

This all goes away if and when some of the other guys in the Braves’ lineup start hitting. But for now Jason Heyward is hitting. And walking. And so are Chipper Jones and Brian McCann for that matter. It sure would be nice if the three of those guys were bunched up in the lineup together to take advantage of that.  Let Nate McLouth and Uggla figure it out on their own damn time,

  1. John Wright - Apr 15, 2011 at 12:37 PM

    I recommend this article (http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/index.php/stop-worrying-about-jason-heywards-line-up-spot/), with which I wholeheartedly disagree because, if you’re not going to do the easy stuff that makes your lineup better, why bother with all the other stuff?

    I’m also going to employ the #6hitter Twitter hashtag for discussion about our man Heyward until Fredi finally caves.

    • bobulated - Apr 15, 2011 at 12:59 PM

      Love the hashtag idea, #6hitter. +6

    • riverace19 - Apr 15, 2011 at 1:30 PM

      Nice catch Wright, I responded to the fan graphs article as well. It’s time for chipper to move to #2 – great OBA, loss of power. McLouth in the 2 hole is a joke. Someone else pointed out that Heyward has walked 9 times and hasn’t scored a single time on any of those walks. Here’s how it should go:

      Prado
      C. Jones
      McCann
      Heyward
      Uggla
      Freeman
      Gonzalez
      McLouth

      • mercyflush - Apr 15, 2011 at 1:42 PM

        I would bat Heyward 3rd and let McCann and Uggla drive him in.

        Freeman should be the 7 or 8 hitter until he proves he’s better than that.

        The fact that an extra atbat in many games is going to McLouth vs. Heyward is hilarious to me, as is the fact that Heyward is getting on base for Gonzalez, Freeman and the pitcher.

        You’re literally making it easier on the opposing pitcher every game.

    • scatterbrian - Apr 15, 2011 at 3:13 PM

      I don’t agree with that Fangraphs piece. You can’t just take Heyward’s wOBA (ZIPS projection, mind you) and swap it with McLouth’s wOBA and extrapolate a run differential. Swapping two players–especially these two disparate players–changes the complexion of the lineup and affects everyone else. Lineups aren’t a group in that you can say “these nine players will generate X runs.” Lineups are sequential, and their effectiveness depends on sequence as much as the sum of it’s parts.

      • Kevin S. - Apr 15, 2011 at 3:31 PM

        I wouldn’t say “as much as.” Sequencing is of much less significance than the sum of the parts. Not entirely insignificant (alternating handedness, for example, has tangible impact), but no amount of sequencing arguments help claim McLouth should bat four spots higher than Heyward. In fact, as I’ve outlined below, Heyward actually increases the sequencing benefits.

      • scatterbrian - Apr 15, 2011 at 4:55 PM

        I think we’re on the same page Kevin. “as much as” might not be the best phrasing, but we both agree they should switch spots. My point (and yours as well) is that you can’t simply switch the two and determine it’s increase in value is worth one-fortieth of a run. It fails to account for the ripple effect it has on the entire lineup in terms of pitch sequences, defensive positioning, runners on base, etc. as you mentioned.

  2. Jonny 5 - Apr 15, 2011 at 1:05 PM

    Damn, Uggly is steenking it up compared to WHO THEY TRADED HIM FOR!! Sorry Craig, but it had to be said.

    • Mr. Jason "El Bravo" Heyward - Apr 15, 2011 at 2:27 PM

      Give it time, my friend. Uggs will be okay.

      • Jonny 5 - Apr 15, 2011 at 4:28 PM

        Yeah, I’m sure he will, he always has been. But don’t think that twitchy bat of his is ever going to become more patient.

  3. Mr. Jason "El Bravo" Heyward - Apr 15, 2011 at 1:07 PM

    I find it annoying. Maximizing runs means putting the best hitters (at any given time) adjacent to one another in a given daily line-up. Obviously you don’t move a Pujols or an ARod, but Uggla can be shifted until he starts hitting or gets some more patience at the plate. Fredi should change it in the short term if he wants to put some runs on the board.

  4. cur68 - Apr 15, 2011 at 1:18 PM

    Geez, all that talent on that team and you’d think they’d bail out stupid manager decisions. Guess that only happens to Ron Washington. At some point the conversation has to start that Freddi is a pretty mediocre manager and no amount of talent on the team overcomes this.

  5. oldnumero7 - Apr 15, 2011 at 2:13 PM

    As someone with no dog in this hunt (other than the fact that I vastly overpaid for Heyward in my fantasy draft), I say keep applying the pressure. This is just dumb, and Fredi needs to fix it.

  6. Kevin S. - Apr 15, 2011 at 2:40 PM

    Uggla can stay put, it really is as simple as switching Heyward and McLouth for a fairly optimized lineup (if we made it completely Book-optimized, Chipper would lead off, but I don’t think that’s necessary). Heyward batting second over sixth gives him roughly an additional 70 plate appearances over the course of a season. In addition to having more opportunities to do his awesome shit at the plate, it means he will actually bat more often with runners in scoring position. It means that he’ll make Chipper and McCann better hitters, because by being on base, he puts the pitcher in the stretch, he shifts the defense from the optimal alignment for getting the hitter out, and he alters the pitch sequence. These are tangible things that we’ve observed to be true. What there’s no evidence of is McLouth getting more fastballs to hit because he’s batting second (and if there was, Heyward is much more likely to take advantage of them), or that Heyward hitting behind Uggla provides him any real sort of “protection.” Put Heyward back where he belongs.

    #6hitter (I wonder how many people here are actually going to get that, John).

    • Kevin S. - Apr 15, 2011 at 2:41 PM

      Ugh, sorry I went Wall of Text a little bit there.

    • John Wright - Apr 15, 2011 at 2:44 PM

      Someone else on the FanGraphs post actually came up with that one, so I can’t take the credit. I can only run with it.

      • Kevin S. - Apr 15, 2011 at 3:56 PM

        No, I agree. I’m just not sure how much your typical HBT commenter is versed in the great #6org conflagration of 2010.

  7. Lukehart80 - Apr 15, 2011 at 4:58 PM

    I saw the Fangraphs article and commented that while I’m not a Braves’ fan and don’t have Heyward on a roto team or anything, I want him higher in the lineup because I love watching him hit, and I want more of him in my life. Plus, his counting stats will look so much prettier at the end of the year if he gets the 50-75 extra PA batting 2nd or 34rd would bring him.

    Free Jason Heyward!

    • Kevin S. - Apr 15, 2011 at 5:08 PM

      Amen.

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