Atlanta Braves Lineup in 2013 vs. 2017: Who Ya Got?
By Alex Burke
Here’s an interesting thought: the Braves’ lineup this year might be better than it was the last time the Braves made the postseason.
After 4 games in 2016’s Grapefruit League play, the Atlanta Braves had a 1-2-1 record, en route to a final Spring count of 6-20. And we know how that went once the season got underway for real.
I hate to be a prisoner of the moment, but this year’s edition is now just 1 bad inning (with minor leaguers playing) away from a 3-1 record. And there’s this…
That was actually before yesterday, which saw Freddie Freeman go 2 for 3, which actually lowered his average to .700.
I know, I know. Spring Training games are exhibitions– yes– but, the way that our lineup played in the second half of last year and how they’ve carried it into the spring is intriguing to say the least.
It made me wonder: is this year’s lineup better than it was in 2013?
To preface this piece, I’d like to say that in no way am I declaring this 2017 Braves team better than the 2013 team that won 96 games and won the NL East.
Outside of the Julio Teheran, who was on the 2013 staff, the pitching from top to bottom is much weaker this year.
Simply put, no four of Bartolo Colon, R.A. Dickey, Mike Foltynewicz, Jaime Garcia, Aaron Blair, Matt Wisler, or anyone else competing for a starting rotation spot can contest the 2013 rotation of Teheran, Mike Minor, Kris Medlen, Tim Hudson, and Paul Malhom.
Never mind that the 2017 team doesn’t have a Craig Kimbrel.
The lineup is a different story.
John Coppolella has subtly put together a very solid lineup that features more consistency than the 2013 lineup had.
Here are the two lineups side-by-side:
|Chris Johnson||.321/.358/.457||Ender Inciarte||.291/.351/.381|
|Freddie Freeman||.319/.396/.501||Dansby Swanson||.302/.361/.442|
|Justin Upton||.263/.354/.464||Freddie Freeman||.302/.400/.569|
|Brian McCann||.256/.336/.461||Matt Kemp||.268/.304/.499|
|Jason Heyward||.254/.349/.427||Nick Markakis||.269/.346/.397|
|Andrelton Simmons||.248/.296/.396||Brandon Phillips||.291/.320/.416|
|Evan Gattis||.243/.291/.480||Adonis Garcia||.273/.311/.406|
|Melvin Upton Jr.||.184/.268/.289||Tyler Flowers||.270/.357/.420|
*Yes– I know– there are a thousand clarifications that I need to make here.*
Primarily, I organized that 2013 lineup by the players’ average because they didn’t have an established lineup.
For instance, Gattis and Laird both started over 30 games at catcher, Heyward missed time due to his broken jaw, Melvin Upton Jr. had 446 plate appearances in the regular season, then three in the postseason, and there was generally just a lot of shakeups in the lineup.
As far as the 2017 lineup, it should be noted that Kemp’s numbers were from his full 2016 season, so they’re not nearly as good as his slash line with the Braves alone.
Also, Tyler Flowers‘ .270 average last year was in only 83 games and was by far the best of his career. It shouldn’t be expected that he hits that well next season. Lastly, of course, Ozzie Albies will presumably replace Brandon Phillips at some point this year.