According to Michael Cunningham of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez has a way to determine who will bat lead-off: his “gut feeling”. For tonight’s game, that will be Emilio Bonifacio. After tonight, who knows.
Of course, we’ll sift through the numbers (as Cunningham did for both Bonifacio and B.J. Upton), and we see the Braves have gotten below league average production from the spot. The slashline for the seven different players that have started a game as the Braves lead-off hitter, that combined slashline is .234/.308/.344 with 66 runs scored. The NL ranks, respectively, are 15th (last), 12th, 14th and T12th.
Gonzalez even used Tyler Pastornicky once.
But this also displays the Braves inefficiency with the bats overall. Their 3.74 runs per game places them 13th in the National League. The top of the order has produced the second most runs scored on the club. The only spot that’s scored more: 3rd with 72. The Braves have a guy at that spot. His name is Freddie Freeman. Of the 117 games the Braves have played thus far, Freeman has manned the spot for all 117.
But Gonzalez realizes hinted he knows there could be some criticism come his way (via Cunningham).
Gonzalez said he’s less concerned with the numbers than going with his instincts when making out the lineup.
“It sounds like I’m a dinosaur,” he (Gonzalez) said. “But I think there is more of that than people let on. There is still gut feeling and feel and knowing your personnel than just strictly (going) by the numbers. I use all of it. At the end of the day you go with your gut.”
At least it won’t be B.J. everyday.
I’d be inclined to go with Bonifacio until it no longer proves fruitful. One might suggest moving Jason Heyward back there, but since he’s been written in as the #5 hitter, he’s hit for a higher average (.301 v .254) and gotten on base at a higher clip (.334 v .398). There has been a significant drop in slugging though (.426 v .342).