Fredi Gonzalez Plans to Use Jason Heyward in Leadoff Role

Mike Zarrilli

Jason Heyward to Bat First in 2014

The Braves struggled all year in finding consistent production in the leadoff spot. That is, until they decided to give Jason Heyward an opportunity batting first.

When they finally made the decision after seeing Andrelton Simmons and B.J. Upton prove to be ineffective at getting on base, Heyward hit .322/.401/.551 with six home runs in just 30 games batting leadoff.

There was some speculation that the Braves would opt to move Heyward down in the lineup to give him more run producing opportunities as he continues to get closer to his peak seasons. I think this is the right move to make, however, as the Braves still lack a clear "leadoff" type hitter and Heyward's ability to really be a "jack of all trades" offensively allows him to really bat anywhere in the lineup.

One, albeit small, concern with the current projected lineup is that the Braves will be done with their left-handed hitters after the third batter. That will leave five consecutive position players who bat right-handed, which could lead to some issues later in games against right-handed relievers who specialize in getting righties out. Even so, getting one of your best players the most plate appearances is a good thing, and I expect Heyward to thrive in the role just as he did last season.

Also, Heyward had some jokes about the winter meetings.

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