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    Comment by filihok — April 14, 2011 @ 12:08 pm

  2. Just spitballing here, but when fans are in a rage about an issue, and the media picks up on it, then it tends to get addressed quicker by the manager. At least seemingly quicker than if everyone was quiet about it. Your point that it doesn’t matter THAT much is well taken, but I think the fact that people are pitching a fit about it could lead to a shorter leash for McLouth. Of course, this is just total speculation.

    Comment by Josh — April 14, 2011 @ 12:09 pm

  3. And I think many fans are upset not as a fan of the Braves, but as a fan of Heyward. They want to see him get more atbats from a fantasy perspective maybe. We are talking about 80 more atbats here.

    Comment by richwp01 — April 14, 2011 @ 12:16 pm

  4. Forget about simply swapping McLouth and Heyward. What of optimizing the entire lineup?

    S Jones
    L Heyward
    R Uggla
    L McCann
    R Prado
    L Freeman
    R Gonzalez
    L McLouth

    There we are….perfect

    Comment by Chair — April 14, 2011 @ 12:17 pm

  5. Isn’t all this wasted ink yet another sign that its – a.) still too early in the season and b.) people are bored and trolling for some stories? We’ve (read: collective “we”, not a specific writer) beaten the dead horse that is the Wainright and Hamilton injuries and had a blast with moral hand-wringing and soapboxing about Manny/Barry. Now we’re just waiting to get more of the season under the belt and let the real stories and trends emerge.

    Comment by wasted_years — April 14, 2011 @ 12:22 pm

  6. “That said, the amount of virtual ink being spilled over this issue doesn’t commensurate to the outcome it’s having on the Braves chances of winning baseball games. ”

    This is such a fallacy. If you blog/write about baseball and you discuss this topic, than you are correct to say that Heyward should be batting higher. The number of people talking about it is irrelevant, doesn’t make it any less true. It also doesn’t imply any greater importance than it should be lended.

    The true sign of a contrarian is when they try to disagree with the consensus even when they agree with it.

    Comment by Tollk — April 14, 2011 @ 12:23 pm

  7. I think the bigger issue is that fans are hugely discouraged by Gonzalez’s total lack of appreciation for the importance of the 2nd spot. For god’s sake he batted Freddie effing Freeman there instead of Heyward, which is just ludicrous-he seems to think the 2nd spot is LESS important than the 6th spot and that he should experiment there. And all this crap about “RBI opportunities” is total bunk since McLouth has come up with runners on more frequently than Heyward has. And finally, Heyward has walked 9 times this year and hasn’t scored after any of those walks.

    I don’t know that Braves fans are more pissed off at Fredi for being stupid or for being stubborn. The evidence that this is a terrible idea is already mounting, small sample size be damned, and his insistence that it isn’t smacks of unwillingness to admit a mistake.

    Comment by bsally — April 14, 2011 @ 12:38 pm

  8. A win in April counts the same as a win in September. Fans have a right to be outraged that Heyward is not hitting in a more productive position. There is no excuse that justifies McLouth batting third, when you have an on base machine batting 6th.

    Comment by TheGrandslamwich — April 14, 2011 @ 12:49 pm

  9. This.

    For me, the bigger issue is the poor thought process & rationalization of the decision. It’s roughly akin to when the Royals sign some garbage player for $1 million dollars, and people say, “this just doesn’t matter that much.”

    In some sense, they are right. On the other hand, you just voluntarily added Melky Cabrera to the roster for no good reason.

    Comment by Will — April 14, 2011 @ 12:51 pm

  10. * McLouth batting batting second, sorry about that.

    Comment by TheGrandslamwich — April 14, 2011 @ 12:55 pm

  11. DC said on Jonah’s podcast that he doesn’t like to write about others covering baseball. I guess he was really riled up here.

    The pod was terrific, by the way.

    Comment by lester bangs — April 14, 2011 @ 1:06 pm

  12. You can crunch all the numbers you want but it’s obviously a horribly lineup.

    Comment by BKP — April 14, 2011 @ 1:10 pm

  13. Yeah, fantasy has a distorting affect on people’s perceptions — they start caring about pointless stats like saves and care too much about others like stolen bases — and thanks to the internet there’s essentially a national audience watching (and commenting on) what a manager does with certain players. I don’t know if anybody has actually studied this effect — how many people there are playing fantasy, and how it changes how they value players — but it seems to be very real. Certainly some players (Alfonso Soriano for example) were fantasy darlings all out of proportion to their on-field contributions, especially since until recently fantasy didn’t value fielding at all (and in most cases still doesn’t).

    But if folks who aren’t actually fans of the team but just fantasy owners of a player are contributing to pressure on a manager to change how he handles that player in real baseball, you potentially have a problem. Not in this case, since moving Hayward up in the order is good for both fantasy value and in real life, but we might see it in the future (and we may be seeing it a bit already with the Save stat and closer usage, though that’s as much about relievers coveting the Save for future contract reasons). It’s not something I’m hugely worried about, but it does intrigue me — especially as the older managers shuffle off and the younger ones, who may actually pay attention to the internet, take over.

    Comment by joser — April 14, 2011 @ 1:14 pm

  14. Yes, there is the potential for this situation to change from Dave’s “Gonzalez is not a stupid person” to “Actually, apparently he is” based on the accumulation of evidence like this. But one data point does not a conclusion make, and since I’m not following the situation closely I don’t know if Gonzalez has some method to his madness (and if he’s communicated it outside the clubhouse). There is some value in experimentation — sometimes unconventional batting orders work better than you have any a priori reason to expect — though you’d rather see that done in games that don’t actually count in the standings, of course, since most experiments end in failure. And the only thing worse than a needlessly “creative” manager is a stubborn, hidebound one. I don’t know where in that spectrum Gonzalez falls.

    Comment by joser — April 14, 2011 @ 1:23 pm

  15. But the point is that the real difference (in scoring) between a “horrid” one and a “perfect” one is actually quite small, other than giving fans and the media one less thing to focus on when it nevertheless inevitably fails to win 60 to 80 times in a season.

    Comment by joser — April 14, 2011 @ 1:26 pm

  16. Dave-

    Aren’t you missing part of the equation here. Heyward getting on base in the second hole also has a positive impact on the 3rd and 4th hitters (and maybe 5th), which we would expect to increase their production, as hitters historically have performed better with runners on base. So it is more than just the added production of 80 or so extra at bats, you also have to take into account that the hitters behind him will perform better getting however many extra at bats with a runner on base.

    Comment by Mike — April 14, 2011 @ 1:27 pm

  17. Gonzalez’s rationale for the lineup is twofold: he wants speed in the 2nd spot (for god knows what reason) and he thinks Heyward should be getting “RBI opportunities” because he’s a “run producer”. That McLouth has batted with runners on more often than Heyward has not fazed Fredi. Sigh.

    Also, regardless of whether or not speed in the 2nd spot is valuable (lol), why the hell would he put a struggling rookie 1st baseman who is slow as molasses there on the day McLouth is rested?

    Comment by bsally — April 14, 2011 @ 1:28 pm

  18. Agree. Saying “this issue just doesn’t really matter all that much” seems like a retroactive way to approach this story. The number of runs lost by Fredi’s decision isn’t what is causing the frustration- it’s the poor reasoning behind his choice and the fact that we have plenty of data to show that Heyward batting 6th is a bad idea.

    In many other industries, sticking to a strategy that is empirically incorrect would result in a dismissal of the responsible member of the management team. It’s true that if Fredi is doing everything else right, he probably shouldn’t lose his job, but he shouldn’t stubbornly ignore an area of his job where improvement is so easily gained.

    Some have suggested that maybe hitting McLouth second is part of plan to rebuild his confidence and bring back “Pittsburgh Nate”. Perhaps there’s a grain of truth to this theory, but I’ll take the tangible over the intangible any day. Even if Nate is that fragile, Heyward can’t be thrilled about being clearly superior and getting snubbed.

    Comment by whatzitmather — April 14, 2011 @ 1:28 pm

  19. If this were Charlie Manuel and the Phillies that were putting Heyward in the wrong batting spot, Cameron would’ve written a 3,000-word post about how it signaled their decline as a franchise.

    It’s a terrible move by Fredi. It makes no sense. The Braves will likely underperform their projections because their manager is a dummy.

    Comment by Jimmy the Greek — April 14, 2011 @ 1:29 pm

  20. I tried to post this earlier but it didn’t work. My point was on the same line as Mike’s. Alex Gonzalez is more of the issue than Heyward or McClouth. When Heyward’s walks are not being taken advantage of because the guys behind him can’t produce, there’s a big issue. The important data would be on what effect the OBP differential between McClouth and Heyward in the two hole has as to the Braves run creation. I’d imagine that has more bearing than the AB per game issue

    Comment by John — April 14, 2011 @ 1:32 pm

  21. If Dave’s math is right (and there’s no reason to think it’s not)…it’s 4 runs. I don’t find his position contrarian in the least if we’re talking about 4 runs vs. the amount of outrage/anger expressed over Heyward’s position in the order.

    Comment by wasted_years — April 14, 2011 @ 1:34 pm

  22. The reason this drives me crazy (as a Braves fan) is that it’s a manager’s job to worry with the things that could lead to a few extra runs. You never know. Those few extra runs could mean that one- or two-run win that gets the Braves to the postseason.

    I could understand if the move is optimal but couldn’t be easily justified. For example, there’s some evidence that it would be optimal to hit Chipper Jones leadoff. However, it’s difficult to justify that to the media and the general fan base plus you do run the risk in that scenario of causing Chipper discomfort.

    But Heyward hit second most of last season. McLouth has actually performed better than he has overall when batting sixth or seventh.

    I understand it’s not a big deal in terms of the few runs it may cost the Braves. But it’s a big deal that a manager is not doing a little thing, that he could easily justify doing, that could help his team earn a few more runs.

    Comment by Shaun — April 14, 2011 @ 1:59 pm

  23. Piling on here and with some of the above comments, but I agree. I’m hoping as a Braves fan that Fredi contributes in all those intangible ways (clubhouse management and the like), because Heyward hitting sixth is clearly the wrong decision, even if it is only worth a few runs.

    Personally, I’m not shocked at the outrage, since lineup decisions are fairly easy to analyze for their impact on run scoring with the tools we have now. If we recognize it is the wrong decision, and it’s something we’ll notice day in and day out, why is it so surprising that people are mentioning it?

    I’ll grant that there are probably more interesting things to talk about than the daily lineup and that Fredi is unlikely to change in spite of our efforts. I think he’s a likeable guy and is probably great at behind-the-scenes stuff.

    Still, if someone comes to me and asks me for a few dollars of my paycheck every other week for no apparent reason, I’m not going to oblige just because it probably won’t keep me from making my house payment. I’m going to look at him like the fool he is and say no.

    Comment by jfwiii — April 14, 2011 @ 2:04 pm

  24. Two points: first, yes, this does tend to indicate that Fredi is a stubborn fool, which is a bad quality for a manager to have. So, in that sense, it has taken on significance out of proportion to its impact for some fans.

    Second is the aesthetics point, which should not be underestimated. Jason Heyward is a god to Braves fans. His personal success is barely second to success of the team itself. Any decision which smacks of a slight, or which just gives him less of an opportunity to display his extraordinary hitting spells is going to get the fans very riled. To the extent that this has come to be seen, fairly or unfairly, as Fredi vs. Jason, of COURSE we’re going to spit in Fredi’s eye, because: it’s Jason Heyward.

    Comment by Anon21 — April 14, 2011 @ 2:12 pm

  25. These kind of articles are why you irk me sometimes DC. I don’t care if it doesn’t mean that big of a difference on the Win/Loss record, its simple COMMON SENSE.. You bat your best hitters higher up in the lineup, period. And until that idiot Gonzalez uses COMMON SENSE there is no amount of articles that would be too many regarding this topic.

    Comment by DonCoburleone — April 14, 2011 @ 2:27 pm

  26. Dave – I have to correct your stat line. As a Brave, McLouth is .228/.328/.373 – still very impotent offensive numbers, but not quite as bad as the .194/.297/.318 you’ve published. Agree with the intent of the entry but it was bugging me that nobody else seemed to point out the incorrect stat line.

    Comment by Dave Tomello — April 14, 2011 @ 2:29 pm

  27. Fredi vs Jason – nice, Anon21

    Comment by MBD — April 14, 2011 @ 3:00 pm

  28. As someone else pointed out, having Heyward on base would make the #3 and #4 batters more productiive. But even if the change would only result in 4 more runs per season, that could easily be the difference between making the playoffs or going home early. Every win counts in a close race.

    Comment by stratobill — April 14, 2011 @ 3:02 pm

  29. Yeah, here’s the thing. It may only be 4 runs over the course of the season (otherwise known as a little less than half a win) but it’s 4 runs that the Braves can get FOR FREE. All Gonzalez has to do is write the names in a different order on the lineup card, and boom, we have a better team.

    It may be a small thing, but it’s something that provides positive value with no downside. Ignoring an opportunity to make one’s team better is not a positive trait in a manager.

    Comment by Ian R. — April 14, 2011 @ 3:13 pm

  30. Thank goodness someone mentioned the dynamics involved here at not just meaningless statistics. Prado flies out. Let’s say Heyward hits second and walks. Now Chipper is up (hitting lefty against a RHP) with the first baseman holding Heyward on and a K-mart sized hole on the right side.
    Watching McLouth hit makes me tired.

    Comment by RiverAce — April 14, 2011 @ 3:16 pm

  31. Yes, maximizing a team’s runs (and wins) is definitely not something to worry about.

    Those extra 50 at bats and better line-up spot for Runs/RBI are also fairly valuable to fantasy owners, Dave. It’s not like we’re all up in arms just because we’re Braves fans. A lot of people have a vested interest in seeing Heyward hit in the best line-up spot due to owning him on their fantasy teams.

    In other words, the Braves should change the line-up around because it’s in their best interest. And the fantasy fans out there want a line-up change because it’s in their best interest, too. To say that we should stop worrying feels like you’re saying we shouldn’t care about the best interests of the team as well as ourselves as fantasy owners. I don’t like that plan.

    NOTE: I do not own Jason Heyward in a single fantasy league this year. But I definitely understand where his owner’s are coming from in wanting a line-up switch. And I agree with them wholeheartedly.

    Comment by Bodhizefa — April 14, 2011 @ 3:38 pm

  32. I’ll add one thing: The people that defend this decision tend to bring up that Fredi’s making this decision to give Nate some sort of psychological boost. What about Heyward?? After he earns his walk and is stuck out there while the SS/1B/P fail to drive him in, it’s got to be demoralizing. He’s PERFECTLY suited to hit in the 2-hole, and his manager is doing his best to waste his contributions.

    Comment by kp — April 14, 2011 @ 3:44 pm

  33. Fredi vs. Jason sounds hilarious. I of course hope that isn’t actually the case.

    Comment by Brenton — April 14, 2011 @ 3:49 pm

  34. It’s not all about fantasy. When I see something so obviously wrong I feel compelled to speak up. McLouth in 2010 racked up a .298 OBA and this year so far he’s at .289. Yup 29 years old, should be fine, but he just doesn’t look fine. Baseball is a precarious sport.
    That said, how about this (it’s fun to play manager and make lineups)

    Comment by RiverAce — April 14, 2011 @ 3:49 pm

  35. Wow. Just when I thought Dave Cameron couldn’t get any more annoying, he writes this article.

    You have maybe the most exciting young player in the game, who is undoubtedly and inexplicably batting too low in the order, and people are upset.

    If there’s anything we know about batting order, its emotionally and symbolic importance is always greater than its actual affect on winning and losing.

    Dave loves to point out when people are “wrong”, it’s his favorite thing to do. Just look at his articles. Well, Dave, you are entitled to your opinion, except your opinion is that of a lonely loser. I have no words. You are the worst.

    Comment by Telo — April 14, 2011 @ 3:56 pm

  36. Thank you for this comment. I think we all feel the stats are informative, but you have to look at the big picture aka the performance of the rest of the lineup as a result of these choices.

    Comment by Brenton — April 14, 2011 @ 4:02 pm

  37. I like that lineup. I think Fredi is reluctant to be “the one” who moves Chipper, even though I recall Chipper saying that he wants to hit where he helps the team the most. 2nd would be ideal for Chipper due to his patience and bat abilities. I think Fredi would be reluctant to bat McCann and Heyward back to back because of the whole…R,L,R,L…philosophy, though I don’t necessarily agree with it.

    Comment by Brenton — April 14, 2011 @ 4:12 pm

  38. I like the corollary of a player not running out a ground ball once a game. I mean, honestly, how many runs does THAT poor decision cost a team over the course of a season? Probably one or two, right? It couldn’t possibly be much more than that. Yet if a player, once per game, made that bad decision, he’d be ripped to shreds, and hardly anyone would argue the point. And that decision is just as easily fixable. Sure, the math “doesn’t matter” that much, but accountability is still accountability, and a run is still a run.

    Comment by bgrosnick — April 14, 2011 @ 4:21 pm

  39. Swap Freeman and McLouth.

    Comment by Temo — April 14, 2011 @ 4:27 pm

  40. No need to get nasty, Dave’s point seems well taken in the sense that public outrage is disproportionate to the relevance of Heyward’s lineup position. But I have to echo a point made above: if it is clearly a wrong decision, which no one seems to be arguing about, it should be fixed. There is really no excuse for no inefficiencies when an efficient solution is obvious, as it is here.

    Comment by mike — April 14, 2011 @ 4:33 pm

  41. No, Dave deserves it. His tone is always and consistently agitating, defensive, and “me against the world”. It’s remarkable he’s lasted this long with such little talent and tact.

    Comment by Telo — April 14, 2011 @ 5:21 pm

  42. Dave, the only problem I have with this article is that it just doesn’t account for all the variables involved in the situation. As you say, an efficient lineup (in this case Heyward batting 2nd) would benefit the rest of the lineup. So how is that quantified? How do we account for the improved batting of the others around the 2-hole? Also, let me give you a scenario to think about. Its the 9th inning. The braves are down 1-0 and Prado is on 2nd with 2 outs. Nate Mclouth is at bat. Could you look at me and say that it doesn’t matter much that Heyward is not batting? I’m not saying Heyward is on Babe Ruth status, but in a high leverage situation I want my best hitter at bat. Someone who has proven clutch last year and not someone who is afraid of being sent to AAA. Maybe this scenario isn’t the most probable but there is something to be said about protecting your best hitters and if I’m Prado I’m probably pressing at the plate, knowing the guy behind me couldn’t hit a beach ball. I’m genuinely curious to know your thoughts on this and line up optimization. Especially accounting for the various differences in lineups in accordance in to your argument. i.e. the yankees vs the braves lineup, where it would mean even less as to where you placed you’re best hitter since they have All stars in the 7th and 8th holes.

    Comment by Rome — April 14, 2011 @ 5:23 pm

  43. Sorry, also meant to add that if those 1-4 runs lost could have tipped a game or two into our favor that could mean a lot. Considering how tight the race in the nl east is projected by many sabr sites.


    Comment by Rome — April 14, 2011 @ 5:25 pm

  44. great way to start a discussion!
    There’s a mini-outrage going on down in _______ (fangraphs/espn/Boston/NY/etc) about Baseball right now, but in reality, it just doesn’t matter all that much.

    Comment by WillClark — April 14, 2011 @ 6:18 pm

  45. Well, we wouldn’t be here if we didn’t like to talk baseball, would we?

    Comment by joser — April 14, 2011 @ 7:25 pm

  46. Doesn’t the amount of the vitriol in this thread kinda make Dave’s point? True, batting Heyward sixth is not an optimal lineup but we’re talking 4 runs. Does that make or break a playoff run? I don’t know but I have to doubt it. Yes, yes, every run counts but come on…it’s 4 runs. Aren’t there a thousand different variations that the season can bring that will generate + or – 4 runs?

    To a certain degree I get the reaction. For example, if someone were to advance the arguement that Schneider, from One Day at a Time, was NOT one of the single greatest and impactful fictional characters of the 20th century I would be spit-on-the-floor mad. But if I was honest with myself and despite the acting chops of Pat Harrington, I would have to admit that my counter-arguement was probably on weak ground. Same thing here – and what I come back to, look at the responses over 4 runs. I understand the emotion, I just think it’s misplaced.

    Comment by wasted_years — April 14, 2011 @ 7:31 pm

  47. “In other words, if Fredi Gonzalez stays with this line-up for another month, then we’ll be able to write that his batting order has cost the Braves one full run. If he stays with this line-up for the entire year, then the estimated cost would be a whopping four runs. That is almost half a win, so it’s not fair to say that it’s nothing, but in the grand scheme of things, four runs per season is not a huge number.”

    Obviously, I’ve read this reasoning several times before, and I understand it. The thing is, I feel like not taking an obvious half-win gain just by doing something as easy as switching your batting order is just foolish. In the grand scheme of things, it probably won’t make a difference, but we add over $2 million to a player’s value for half a win. More than that given the Braves’ place on the marginal win curve. It’s an irrelevant distinction for player acquisition, but not for arranging players you already have.

    Incidentally, if I recall The Book correctly, doesn’t the 2nd spot also have more important at-bats than the 6th? That doesn’t seem to be accounted for, though I may have missed it.

    Comment by Lance W — April 14, 2011 @ 8:07 pm

  48. The reason he doesn’t go into all the factors is that someone else has run the analysis and numbers, and own propriety rights to that information. Read: The Book.

    Comment by Bronnt — April 14, 2011 @ 8:11 pm

  49. Some more things to consider:

    We’ve seen cascading applied to its effect on starting pitchers, but what about on lineup deployment? You’d think having facing Heyward’s patient approach an extra time or two in any given game could wear down a starter sooner and get to the opposing team’s bullpen faster.

    Maybe Fredi feels McLouth is allergic to off-speed stuff and batting him 2nd will allow him to see more fastballs; his version of line-up optimization.

    Maybe he looked up Heyward’s situational stats and fell in love with his .359/.469/.846 line from the 6th spot in 2010 (SSS of course).

    But how about this: maybe this isn’t Fredi’s decision. This could be some form of organizational mandate designed to keep Heyward healthier for a longer period of time. I wouldn’t go so far as to call him brittle, but he’s already had his share of injuries. Maybe someone made the case that 150+ games of a healthy Heyward hitting 6th is better than a ceiling of 140ish games hitting 2nd while battling through nagging injuries. Pure speculation on my part, no factual evidence whatsoever, but my understanding (based solely through various readings) is that injury prevention is a growing concern in MLB front offices.

    If health is in fact a skill, maybe this is the Braves way of developing what could be the last piece of Heyward’s prodigious skill set. Maybe it costs them 4 runs in 2011, maybe it costs them 4 wins. If it puts him in a better position to carry the offense on his back from 2012 onward, maybe that’s a worthwhile concession.

    Comment by captain_oblivious — April 14, 2011 @ 8:16 pm

  50. Agreed. As a Braves’ fan, I’m tired of reading about it in places that otherwise provide good content. The amount of attention it brings, especially from commenters on those blogs/sites, makes you think that it’s already cost the Braves 3 or 4 wins. And the fact is that it’s too early for it to even had even a noticeable effect. I’m glad Dave wrote this.

    The real problem is that there are a lot of people who are more Jason Heyward fans than Braves fans. They want to see Heyward get a lot more plate appearances so he can put up better numbers, but on the grand sum, it’s not making an appreciable difference. And no, I don’t think there’s anyone outside of Fredi who thinks Jason should be batting sixth, and I’d prefer to see him batting second too, but I can’t be that outraged about it. Heck, if it has the slightest psychological impact on McLouth’s hitting, giving him more confidence at the plate to be hitting ahead of Chipper Jones, it probably balances out.

    Comment by Bronnt — April 14, 2011 @ 8:17 pm

  51. My apologies if someone else already mentioned this. There were already a lot of comments when I saw the article and while I read many of them, I skimmed a few too. In any case, I want Heyward batting earlier in the line-up because I want as much Heyward as I can get.

    I’m not a Braves’ fan and I don’t have Heyward on a roto team or anything, I’m just a baseball fan who’s captivated by his talents and is greedy for as much Heyward in their baseball diet as possible. I want to see those extra 50-75 PA he’d get batting 2nd or 3rd, I want to see his counting stats with the production he could get from those PA, etc.

    I love me some Jason Heyward, set the man loose!

    Comment by Lukehart80 — April 14, 2011 @ 8:29 pm

  52. Oh, look, another Heyward walk he didn’t come around to score on. He even stole second this time!

    Comment by Kevin S. — April 14, 2011 @ 8:44 pm

  53. So what you’re saying is “go easy on the guy who is obviously making the wrong decision because the impact isn’t very large.”

    That is not how scrutinization works.

    Managers get paid a lot of money. He should be able to make the right decision when all of the fans know how easy and simple it is.

    Comment by Will — April 14, 2011 @ 8:56 pm

  54. Did Dave somehow personally insult you? Just calm the F down.

    Comment by Jose — April 14, 2011 @ 9:02 pm

  55. Hmm… guess the sarcasm wasnt apparent. =p

    Comment by WillClark — April 14, 2011 @ 9:13 pm

  56. Look at that, two more walks tonight and still no runs. Lotta good it’s doing the Braves in the six spot.

    Comment by Travis — April 14, 2011 @ 9:23 pm

  57. This is the point I think, everything that a manager can do right, they should do. Minimizing the impact on the team is a bit of a red herring. Of course, Gonzlez has a knockdown response to those advocating in favor of moving better hitters up to get them more at bats.

    “I think the way the lineup is constructed is more important,” Gonzalez said. “Then why don’t we lead off [Albert] Pujols? Or [Barry] Bonds?”

    Now that’s he’s refused to move Heyward up about 20 times, though, I don’t think we’ll see it happening anytime soon. Obstinance in the face of facts is not a good quality for a manager to have.

    Comment by Mike — April 14, 2011 @ 9:24 pm

  58. Captain_obliv – I agree. Fredi is an old school guy who has old school principals. His mentor is bobby cox. You can’t get more old school than him. The two guys who have hit in the two spot are McClouth and Freeman. What is the common denominator those two share? Neither one of those guys couldn’t hit a beachball with paddle right now. Nate had an awful year last season. This is fredi’s way of trying to build confidence in a struggling player, by trying to put him in a spot where he will see more fastballs. Its the same reason he subbed freeman into that spot, because he’s young and struggling and could use a little confidence booster. Its been a conventional tactic used by managers since… well…. forever. Sure fredi is full of shit when he states his reasoning as “speed guy in the two hole – run producer in the 6 hole”. What do you people expect him to say publicly? “Yes I know nate is garbage and heyward is 1000 times better and my lineup would benefit from a swap but hey, I love nate’s blonde hair in the 2 hole”. Seriously people, what do you expect him to say? He’s trying to show confidence in a struggling player and is doing some experimenting in…. APRIL! Geez calm down braves fans. You could be like me and root for the Mets. It could be a lot worse.

    I’m pretty certain Fredi doesn’t read Fangraphs nor does he own a copy of The Book. All the guy is doing is the same thing managers have been doing for 100 years – put a struggling guy in front of the big guns and hope it helps him see better pitches and in turn, help his confidence. Its shocking that only one person from this readership grasped that concept. Also if McClouth was hitting like he did a few years ago we’d be calling fredi a genius right now for getting nate “back on track” by putting him in the 2 hole. Hey braves fans wouldn’t you want a productive McClouth AND Heyward? Nothing else has worked for McClouth and frankly I don’t think it was a bad idea. And lastly as dave noted, if he is still looking like Rey Ordonez in another week or two Fredi is gonna shuffle the lineup. Now if McClouth is still sucking by mid May and fredi hasn’t shuffled the lineup then you can call him a stubborn idiot.

    Comment by jpg — April 14, 2011 @ 9:42 pm

  59. #6hitter?

    Comment by brian — April 14, 2011 @ 10:41 pm

  60. Perhaps for Dave’s next article, he’ll write about the new phenomenon of “internet insanity” or, reading content that makes you angry over and over again and expecting not to get angry in the future.

    But seriously, why read (support) the content if you can’t stand it or the author?

    Comment by Levi — April 14, 2011 @ 11:18 pm

  61. Oh I see what you did there.

    Comment by Levi — April 14, 2011 @ 11:20 pm

  62. Did you see Halladay and Lee the last two nights? Good luck with that race being so tight in the NL East.

    Dave’s whole article here reeks of him making excuses for a team that he doesn’t want to admit he wrongly championed before the season.

    Comment by Jimmy the Greek — April 14, 2011 @ 11:44 pm

  63. Saying optimal lineup doesn’t produce enough runs to even worry about is just stupid. I don’t care what stats you throw at me, they seem to make a lot of assumptions that seem pulled out of someone’s ass. Someone explain the logic and stats behind it. I guarantee there is a ton of assumption going on. Like how many “runs” equal a win. Considering it’s different for each team in each season.

    It also doesn’t take into account each individual lineup. Maybe on average, with the average number of runs per game, in an average season, yea, it might not matter. However, taking a guy hitting like shit, and batting him second, and the best hitter on the team hitting 6th, DOES matter to the Atlanta Braves in 2011.

    Comment by Anthony — April 14, 2011 @ 11:50 pm

  64. I can’t think of a reasonable way to even conduct a study to say it doesn’t make a difference. Unless you actually have someone try every lineup possibilty against the same team, 30 times a piece, then it’s not even relevant. You can say “this guy hit this, this guy hit that” the crunch the numbers through some predictor but the bottom line is if you don’t actually do it, it’s no more accurate than a guess. Who conducted this study? Does he have a masters in stats? If not, I don’t buy it.

    Comment by Anthony — April 14, 2011 @ 11:53 pm

  65. Did you really have to bring the royals into this?

    Haven’t they suffered enough?

    Comment by shthar — April 15, 2011 @ 2:05 am

  66. The outrage is justified since it shows a flaw in Gonzalez that could permeate into other areas. It’s not like Heyward/McLouth is the only inefficiency in the Braves’ lineup and roster.

    Comment by JamesDaBear — April 15, 2011 @ 8:26 am

  67. I think that’s a possibility, that it’s a front-office mandate, although the reasoning is still dubious. Plus, that hasn’t seemed to be Wren’s style thus far in his reign as GM.

    Law and Karabell were making a similar point on ESPN’s Baseball Today podcast yesterday, saying that it’s ultimately Frank Wren’s responsibility to go to Fredi Gonzalez and override him on this one. The same could be said about a lot of decisions. They agreed that micromanaging Fredi’s decisions isn’t the way to go in the long run, but in some cases it might need to be done. Wasting half a win on something that is simple to fix is one of those cases.

    Comment by jfwiii — April 15, 2011 @ 8:29 am

  68. Yeah, I’m definitely running with this.

    Comment by jfwiii — April 15, 2011 @ 8:30 am

  69. It won’t be anymore defensible if McLouth ends up hitting better, but Heyward still languishes down in third with nobody to drive in and nobody to drive him in. Maximizing the production of your greatest assets matters most.

    Comment by JamesDaBear — April 15, 2011 @ 8:44 am

  70. Thank you. This ridiculous stat of 1/20 of a run per game difference just neatly fits every single situation? Seriously I am all about the sabermetrics, but sometimes you stat geeks need to just watch more baseball. If you did you wouldn’t need to do a science project to determine the difference between batting Mclouth second rather than Heyward? Does it take into account that Prado will start seeing better pitches with Heyward behind him. Or that Heyward will start seeing better pitches? Or that they will more likely score early runs more often giving the pitcher a little bit of cushion allowing him to attack the strike zone more frequently? How many runs difference does your calculator tell you if they batted Mclouth 8th, where the worst hitter is supposed to bat (9th if Huddy is pitching).

    Comment by Jon — April 15, 2011 @ 9:49 am

  71. If Freddi somehow stumbles upon Fangraphs, reads this, and uses it as justification for his lineup, I’ll cry unconsolably.

    Comment by Azim — April 15, 2011 @ 11:30 am

  72. The math on this is flawed. I am batting in front of Gonzo, Freeman, and the pitcher and I have already walked 11 times. I have yet to score once from a walk. Last night I walked and stole 2b with no one out and still didn’t score. Hitting behind Chipper and Mac (who are scorching the ball right now) instead of infront them may have already cost the Braves 4 runs. Also the Braves are 1 – 3 in 1 run games so it may have already cost them a game. Freddie G. is an idiot of a manager, I would know.

    Comment by Heyward — April 15, 2011 @ 12:34 pm

  73. I don’t care what the batting order is, I just want them to start hitting and it wouldn’t hurt for the pitchers to get more outs! They look just like last year except they started the slump a whole lot earlier! They better get a move on if they don’t want to remain in last place all year!!

    Comment by Ginger — April 15, 2011 @ 8:56 pm

  74. I understand the concern about nate but i would rather have nate hitting second than freeman or heyward. The reason is i am a fan of doing the fundamental things. If prado gets on no one out they should bunt him over, and no way does freeman or heyward bunt, if i remember right heyward didn’t bunt once last year. Now i understand that as good a hitter as heyward is it seems to be a waste but also the braves have the highest batting average with runners in scoring position in the national league(or did) even though we’ve scored the fewest runs. So were just not getting them in scoring position. For instantance i think it against the brewers we had a man on every inning but kept stranding them at first base. Any player in the braves lineup has the ability to hit doubles or homers, but until the players find their offence we need to do the basic things. That way hit, then bunt at least puts a man in scoring position with only one out for chipper, brian,and maybe uggla, i don’t care who you are you have to like those odds. again it is only 12 games in the season i am not that worried about the braves, #1 the phillies so far aren’t unbeatable they have 4 losses, and i like the braves lineup, uggla will pickup probably this next month, chipper looks suprisingly good, brian looks better than i’ve ever seen him this early and heyward looks like he picked up were he left off, and derek lowe so far has looked lights out despite his record this year. They just need to spred the runs out a little more. Go Braves

    Comment by Josh Durden — April 16, 2011 @ 11:15 am

  75. Agreed. As anti-Braves fan (tomahawk chop and even more annoying chant), I should be happy if Fredi Gonzalez does something stupid. But something as stupid as this even annoys me. Maybe we should call this the -.02%.
    Also, every fan of a team, no matter how ignorant, has “his” lineup and will gladly share it with you. That’s why it generates so much heat.

    Comment by GiantHusker — April 16, 2011 @ 12:41 pm

  76. Heyward is hitting like .220 now. Optimize that.

    Comment by Keith_Allen — May 11, 2011 @ 2:59 am

  77. Can we start worrying about Jason Heyward?

    Comment by neuter your dogma — June 1, 2011 @ 6:51 am

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