Atlanta Braves 2011 Ideal Starting Lineup
To the best of my ability, I will lay out what I believe will idealize the Braves 2011 lineup.
I think there are a few things to be changed from the roster of the previous year, so here is what I believe will give the Braves a good postseason run.
And hopefully they'll trample those Giants along the way.
No. 1: Martin Prado, 2B
Prado is the Braves' best candidate to hit in the lead-off position.
His stats clearly show that he hits best in this position. With an overall .319 BA, as lead-off he hits .379.
I doubt there is any debate whether Prado should once again start for the Braves, the only question is his injuries.
He is one of the Braves best offensive players, and compared to Brooks Conrad, his backup, he is also brilliant defensively.
No. 2: Chipper Jones, 3B
If you've been paying much attention, you will by now have realized where this puts Omar Infante.
And as much as I like the guy, I do think he will be invaluable as a backup player next season.
As excited as I am for Chipper to be back for another season, I have my doubts of how often he will be healthy. So having Infante to backup Jones and Prado when they are injured, or in need of rest is probably the best option there is.
The second spot would be a good place for Jones. This is the best place for someone with a career OBP of .405.
No. 3: Jason Heyward, RF
Heyward has proven his ability to achieve key hits, especially in pressure situations.
Though his stats in the playoffs don't look so pretty, he did end up with two hits in the final game.
Though it does seem unlikely, I will still wish him luck when they announce Rookie of the Year.
I am excited to see how he will do next season, now that he has a year of experience under his belt. Hopefully he will get on base even more often than he did last season, perfect to be batted in by...
No. 4: Brian McCann, C
Multiple times McCann has proven his ability as a power hitter, and therefore deserves the cleanup spot in the Braves lineup.
He had the overall top BA in the postseason, .429, and gained some experience as a cleanup hitter last season.
Also, with David Ross as his backup, he can rest nearly anytime he feels.
No. 5: Power Outfielder, Though I'm Not Yet Sure Who, CF
This offseason, the Braves are hoping to acquire a power outfielder to take the empty spot in center field.
Personally, I would like them to obtain Adam Dunn from the Nationals, though it doesn't seem likely. He is probably looking for an expensive contract, and I am not sure the Braves will go for that. He also admitted that he is fine with re-signing to the Nationals, who will definitely want him to return. Last year, in Washington, he managed 38 home runs and 103 RBI.
Another option is Shin-Soo Choo, however, he is not a free agent. The Braves would most likely end up losing Jair Jurrjens and/or some very valuable prospects. It is only a question of whether it is worth it. He has a good three years of power left in him, and his career BA is right around .300.
A third and even less likely option is Jayson Werth, the Phillies free agent outfielder. The Phillies have a rookie outfielder poised to steal Werth's contract, but even if he does, there will most likely be multiple teams bidding for him. He is currently in his prime years, recently hitting around the .300s.
No. 6: Eric Hinske, LF
With Melky Cabrera gone, and Rick Ankiel not returning, I think Hinske is the top candidate for this job.
I think the whole "revolving door" feat in the outfield should be taken away, and keep three regular starters.
I will always remember this guy's two-run shot in Game 3 against the Giants, which almost gave the Braves the lead in the NLDS.
He has been in the World Series the past three of four years, he's great under pressure—who wouldn't want him on their team?
No. 7: Alex Gonzalez, SS
I would take this guy over Yunel Escobar any day.
He is quick in the field, and hardly makes any errors.
He has much more potential, I believe, than what we saw from him through August and September.
He should be able to hit with more power. With the Blue Jays he was great. He had 17 home runs and 50 RBI about halfway through the season, when the Braves got him.
No. 8: Freddie Freeman, 1B
He is probably the Braves' September call-up showing the most promise in him.
I think with the starting position Freeman will become the slugger he is expected to be.
No. 9: Derek Lowe, SP
Lowe showed major improvement in September, and he once again deserves to be the No. 1 starter.
In the postseason, he had some of the best performances of all eight teams.
He pitches great under pressure, and Bobby Cox predicts for him 20 wins this coming season.
No. 9: Tim Hudson, SP
He is the top candidate for NL Comeback Player of the Year.
After a full recovery from Tommy John surgery, he managed 17 wins last season.
For a while, he was also an NL Cy Young candidate. Next season, he could win it all.
No. 9: Tommy Hanson, SP
Tommy Hanson displays the potential to become the Braves ace.
Hopefully it will come through this coming season.
He is a young pitcher, with much potential, and a combined 21 wins in his one-and-a-half seasons in the majors.
No. 9: Jair Jurrjens, SP
I have heard talk of trading away Jurrjens...
I, however, completely despise any mention of this.
Whenever Jurrjens is healthy (though this isn't often), he shows the same potential as Hanson.
In 2009, he was healthy for nearly the entire year, and placed himself within the top 10 pitchers for ERA.
No. 9: Mike Minor, Brandon Beachy, Etc., SP
1. Cliff Lee—As unlikely as it may sound, it would truly be the ideal fifth starter the Braves are in need of. I would not hesitate to classify him as the best free-agent pitcher on the market right now, and he could really do wonders with the Braves.
2. Javier Vazquez—In case you don't remember this guy, I will remind you that in 2009, as a Braves starter, he landed himself in the top five for ERA in the NL.
Despite the letdown he caused in his return as a Yankee last season, it is quite possible that the Braves could regain his contract and shape him up to what they had as before. His contract should be cheap, it is unlikely that other teams will pay much for him.
3. Mike Minor/Brandon Beachy—Each of them was pulled up as a last resort, and neither produced a satisfying performance. Near the end of the year, when injuries were not uncommon, each was pulled up as an unintended September call-up.
I think that with a bit more experience, each could be made into a reliable starter, but for them I would prescribe more time in the minor leagues.
So this is what I believe will give the Braves the best shot at a World Series title next season.
If so, feel free to comment at the bottom of the page.