Analyzing the Atlanta Braves’ Opening Day Lineup

By David Miller

Analyzing the Atlanta Braves’ Opening Day Lineup

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There is no doubting the fact that the Atlanta Braves’ season has taken a huge hit in the last couple of weeks. They have lost two highly projected starters to elbow surgeries in Kris Medlen and Brandon Beachy. That does not mean however that this team is dead in the water on Opening Day. They still have a potentially powerful lineup that could produce a ton of runs. Considering the pitching situation is uncertain at best, they will need to.

1 – Jason Heyward – RF

Jason Heyward Atlanta Braves
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1 – Jason Heyward – RF

Jason Heyward Atlanta Braves
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Heyward became the prototype for the atypical leadoff man in 2013. When he was placed at the top of the Braves lineup, it reached new heights. A long winning streak followed which all but sealed the divisional race. The only reason they didn’t clinch early in September is because Heyward broke his jaw. He is critical to the top of the lineup and to the offensive success of the team.

2 – Justin Upton – LF

Justin Upton Atlanta Braves
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2 – Justin Upton – LF

Justin Upton Atlanta Braves
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Many teams have two speedsters at the top of the order but not the Braves. Though Heyward is a fast runner and Upton can hold his own, this is the second part of a three-way power stroke at the top of the order. Upton was at his best again when Heyward was placed in the leadoff spot. He has the ability to carry the team when he is swinging well.

3 – Freddie Freeman – 1B

Freddie Freeman Atlanta Braves
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3 – Freddie Freeman – 1B

Freddie Freeman Atlanta Braves
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How many times has Freeman proven why he needs to bat in the first inning? If the other two get on base in front of him there is a huge chance the Braves score a run. He is a natural with the bat and deserves serious MVP consideration as long as he repeats the season he had last year and improves it a little bit.

4 – Evan Gattis – C

Evan Gattis Atlanta Braves
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4 – Evan Gattis – C

Evan Gattis Atlanta Braves
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This is the year that Gattis probably figured would never come. He is taking over as the everyday catcher. A great deal about his future likely rides on how he performs this season. Look for him to answer the challenge in a very powerful, El Oso Blanco type way.

5 – Chris Johnson – 3B

Chris Johnson Atlanta Braves
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5 – Chris Johnson – 3B

Chris Johnson Atlanta Braves
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It is impossible to know whether or not Johnson will be able to repeat his great success from last season but I wouldn’t bet against it. He is a natural talent and a baseball purist in the sense that his family is a baseball family. He lives and breathes the game and always has. That is why he is bound to be a force for the betterment of the team this season just like he was last year.

6 – B.J. Upton – CF

B.J. Upton Atlanta Braves
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6 – B.J. Upton – CF

B.J. Upton Atlanta Braves
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It is entirely possible that Upton will move around in the line-up a little bit. He could move into the top five or four if he bounces back in the way the Braves hope he will. Expect a much more standard season from him this year. It would certainly make him a candidate for comeback player of the year.

7 – Andrelton Simmons – SS

Andrelton Simmons Atlanta Braves
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7 – Andrelton Simmons – SS

Andrelton Simmons Atlanta Braves
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Simmons is armed with a nice new contract and he proves exactly why every single game. His offensive skills are on the rise and he is likely already the best defensive shortstop in all of MLB. Look for a boost on offense this season but he probably will be better served by sticking in the bottom of the order.

8 – Dan Uggla – 2B

Dan Uggla Atlanta Braves
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8 – Dan Uggla – 2B

Dan Uggla Atlanta Braves
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Few are unaware of the situation surrounding Uggla. He is one of the highest paid players on the team and didn’t even make the postseason roster in 2013. He is putting good swings on the ball this spring. Expect a big return season this year. That would make him more a candidate for a comeback player of the decade than just one year if it happens. He should have a big game on Opening Day before the real test hits later in the first month.

9 – Julio Teheran – P

Julio Teheran Atlanta Braves
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9 – Julio Teheran – P

Julio Teheran Atlanta Braves
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Teheran might not have been the pitcher that the Braves had slotted for Opening Day but he is the one they gave a long contract to this past offseason. He is good for the job on day one and can handle the bat to do the things he needs to do as well as providing a chance for the Braves to win while on the mound.

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