I know this topic has got some play in comments on other threads, but I thought it deserved a space all to itself. WTF is Fredi thinking when putting BJ in the two-hole? Maybe he plans to make a lousy hitter a bit less lousy by putting him in the sweet spot of the lineup. Maybe he thinks BJ will be helped with a steady diet of fastballs by hitting between Heyward and Freeman. Trouble is, he can't get around on a fastball.
I checked the Rays' opening day rosters going back to Upton's first opening day in '07, and he never hit at the top of the order. His last few years with the Rays, when he was a much more productive offensive player than he is now, he routinely hit in the 7th slot, occasionally moving up to 5th or 6th. That's because Joe Maddon has the sense to know that BJ Upton is not a guy you hit high in the order, especially in the number two slot, which might just be the most important place in the lineup (see "The Book").
Now Fredi has put himself in the position of having to drop Upton down in the order if he doesn't hit, further eroding his confidence. Living in Tampa, I cheered on the Rays for years, though I'll always be a Braves fan at heart. Upton was a productive player, and I hate seeing him fall so flat in Atlanta. At some point though, this organization has got to face reality. Upton just can't seem to put the bat on the ball anymore. And that's not luck. Though he may have some positive regression in BABIP toward the mean this year, he swung and missed over 30 percent of the time last year. That's historically bad. Face it Fredi. Upton is what he is, and what he is not is a guy you hit in the two-hole.
As if BJ's placement wasn't infuriating enough, Fredi hits a career .280 hitter with little power cleanup. W.T.F? Sure Johnson had a great season last year, but if you think he'll challenge for the batting title again, I've got a bridge to sell you. And even if he did, he's still not the sort of player you hit in the middle of the lineup. It's like a child is filling out this lineup card. Does Fredi have kids? Let them make the lineup. It couldn't look much worse.
Now, I realize that these lineup decisions will not drastically impact the Braves' ability to score runs this year, but they will hurt so long as Fredi keeps making out his lineup card in crayon. And the Braves need every edge they can get to keep pace with the Nationals until their starting rotation is pieced together.
Bleh! A few more weeks of looking at this lineup, and I may have to start hitting the pipe, too.
Ignoring pitcher handedness, I'd like the lineup to look something like this:
3. The good Upton