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MrJones
06-04-2009, 11:49 PM
With McLouth in, Chipper to bat cleanup
Veteran looking forward to more run-producing situations


By Mark Bowman / MLB.com

06/04/09 10:44 PM ET

ATLANTA -- After saying goodbye to his Pirates teammates on Thursday morning, Nate McLouth entered the Braves' clubhouse and learned that his new organization had provided him the gift of hitting in front of Chipper Jones.

McLouth, who was acquired from Pittsburgh in exchange for three Minor Leaguers on Wednesday night, has found success while hitting in both the first and third spots in the lineup. But for now it appears that he'll be filling the latter role in Atlanta.

When McLouth arrived at Turner Field on Thursday afternoon to prepare for his first game as the Braves' new center fielder, he found himself batting third, right before Jones, who is accepting the fact that he has to once again get used to the unfamiliar role of cleanup hitter.

With Thursday's game postponed by rain, McLouth will have to wait until Friday to have his first opportunity to precede Jones in the lineup.

"[Jones is] obviously one of the best switch-hitters of all time, and it's going to be special hitting in front of him," said McLouth, who hit .248 with eight homers and a .452 slugging percentage in the 41 games he batted third for the Pirates this year.

Having made 1,531 of his career starts while batting third, Jones would have liked to stay away from the unfamiliarity of the cleanup spot, where he's made just 455 starts. But at the same time, he's looking forward to the possibility of finding more run-producing situations.

While batting third in his first 35 games this year, Jones has compiled just 31 at-bats with runners in scoring position. Jeff Francoeur leads the Braves with 58 at-bats with runners in scoring position, and Yunel Escobar, who has primarily hit first or second, has collected 52 at-bats in those situations.

"I don't know if this is permanent," Jones said. "We'll see. But if I get some more RBI opportunities out of it, that would be good."

While batting third during his career, Jones has hit .316, with a .412 on-base percentage and .555 slugging percentage. His stats from the cleanup spot are .297, .400 and .528, respectively.

"I prefer to hit third," Jones said. "But [manager] Bobby [Cox] wants to do what's best for the club, and if he thinks Nate might get a couple of hits hitting in the third hole because I'm hitting behind him, then so be it."

Over the 186 games in which he's appeared in the leadoff spot, McLouth has batted .261 and collected half of his 60 career homers. While hitting a career-high 26 homers last year, the 27-year-old collected 17 in the top spot of the batting order.

"It would be nice for him to have 26 homers with a guy on base," said Cox, who is confident that McLouth can find similar power while batting in the middle of the lineup.

Whereas Jones may have to get used to the cleanup role, McLouth is looking forward to the opportunity to win more consistently than he has since making his Major League debut with the Pirates in 2005.

"You want to win when you're an athlete," McLouth said. "Not a lot of that went on when I was over there, and that's unfortunate because there's a lot of people that work hard and deserve it. To come into a situation like this, where winning is expected and happens, it's a breath of fresh air."

I just hope Chipper doesn't injure himself by trying to be a prototypical clean-up hitter, but on the all and all I don't mind this decision(for now).

uncblue2332
06-05-2009, 10:22 AM
oooooooooooooooh I love it I always thought with this lineup chipp needed to bat cleanup Great work Bobby, now use mclouths speed and dont waste it

nps6724
06-05-2009, 11:07 AM
I kinda hate it because Chip is the prototypical #3 hitter (great BA/OBP, gap power) and this move no longer guarantees Chipper bats in the 1st inning. But overall, it's probably the best move. If we went Chip-Nate-Mac, a LOOGY can come in and face both Nate and Mac in a row. Chip breaks it up and makes it L-R-L in that situation so the LOOGY either has to face Chip as well or they make another pitching change. Plus Chip is the most-experienced hitter by far so I don't think he will be trying to do too much. If Nate batted 4th, he might try to be a power guy instead of just doing what he does. And Mac is a perfect 5th hitter so I like him moving back down but he gets to stay behind Chip as well.

Against righties, I'd probably go GA/Francoeur/Kotch and against lefties Diaz/Francoeur/Kotch. That way Francoeur gets that oh-so-precious protection he was *****ing about and we have Kotch in front of the pitcher. Hopefully that will keep our pitchers from having to leadoff innings so often.

A_Brave_Pack
06-05-2009, 11:42 AM
I'm just not a big fan of punishing Kotchman by placing him 8th in the lineup. Kotchman leads the team in doubles (16). This may be unpopular, but if I were in charge of putting a lineup together (probably a good thing I'm not) it would look somethign more along the lines of this:

Escobar (5th on the team in BB <15>, high OBP .364, decent speed, and leading off can't ground into as many DPs)
Kotchman (1st in doubles, good at putting the ball in play and/or moving the runner over, doesn't strike out a lot, uses both sides of the field)
McLouth (Good power, is comfortable in the 3 spot, can move himself into scoring position with a steal in front of the cleanup)
Jones (Patient, Good power, able to keep an inning going any way possible, still a commanding force in the lineup)
McCann (Maybe the best hitter on the team, good power, great eye, should get more to hit as a result of hitting behind Chipper)
Diaz/Anderson (More consistent hitters, able to put the ball in play and keep an inning going, or lead off an inning, some <minimal> power, could make opponents pay for walking McCann)
Francoeur (He has to be put somewhere in the lineup, could potentially find a stroke, and I think would be a blackhole in the 8th spot)
Johnson (Probably unfair to Kelly, but he does get on base with more consistency <OBP.315>, and subsequently can be bunted over more often by the pitcher, also is a good doubles hitter <13>, so late games he can hit a double in front of a PH to drive him in, has decent speed so could steal a base get himeself in scoring position and put more pressure on a pitcher, also he is not a complete idiot on the basebaths)

So, to recap, my Atlanta Braves lineup would look like:
Escobar
Kotchman
McLouth
Jones
McCann
Diaz/Anderson
Francoeur
Johnson

Ideas? Suggestions?

nps6724
06-05-2009, 11:53 AM
I would actually leadoff with Kotch due to his low SO numbers and his double potential. Esco is not a good leadoff hitter IMO because he doesn't take pitches much. Keep him at 2. I don't mind KJ at 8, but he has high SO numbers. I think Kotch would just be a much better 8 guy than KJ. Plus at 8, Kotch's gap power and low SO numbers should help keep turning the lineup over.

What would be wonderful is, if we can't find a power guy for RF, if we found someone to replace Francouer in RF who is also a leadoff guy. Then KJ can move to 7 and our lineup would be:

Leadoff Guy
Esco
Nate
Chip
Mac
Diaz/Anderson
KJ
Kotch
Pitcher

MrJones
06-05-2009, 01:19 PM
Hmmmmm, I wonder what would happen if we threw Frenchy into the lead-off role....
We saw the other night what happened when Jeff was thrown into a situation where he HAD to be more selective on the pitches he swung at, and one of his biggest problems is patience at the plate. He has decent speed, and as we saw in the same game he can lay down a decent bunt as well.

WillBravesNY
06-05-2009, 01:48 PM
I think Frenchy should be # 2 with NAte and the boys behind him he would see better pitchers and it would not force him to swing at crap

iesportsfan
06-05-2009, 02:02 PM
I think it would be interesting to see what Frenchy could do in the lead off role or batting # 2......I think he would get some pitches to hit.I wonder what's the highest he's ever hit in the lineup?

Braves_Fan_RSD
06-05-2009, 02:07 PM
I think Frenchy should be # 2 with NAte and the boys behind him he would see better pitchers and it would not force him to swing at crap

I personally like the idea of Kotchman batting 8thwith Francoeur batting 7th sorry Will I would hate to see Francoeur in the 2 hole because moving base runners over is one of his weakest points and you need your 2 hole hitter to be able to do that to set up the rest of the line up. Of Course if we just trade for Willingham its a moot point.

iesportsfan
06-05-2009, 02:25 PM
The 7th spot may be bad for Frenchy.This season he's hitting .190 in the 7th spot with a .484 ops.In the 6th spot he's hitting .284 with a .695 ops.Frenchy's weakest point is his plate discipline,the lower he bats the less amount of good pitches to hit and that's not going to favor the free swinging Francoeur.

uncblue2332
06-05-2009, 02:31 PM
I would actually leadoff with Kotch due to his low SO numbers and his double potential. Esco is not a good leadoff hitter IMO because he doesn't take pitches much. Keep him at 2. I don't mind KJ at 8, but he has high SO numbers. I think Kotch would just be a much better 8 guy than KJ. Plus at 8, Kotch's gap power and low SO numbers should help keep turning the lineup over.

What would be wonderful is, if we can't find a power guy for RF, if we found someone to replace Francouer in RF who is also a leadoff guy. Then KJ can move to 7 and our lineup would be:

Leadoff Guy
Esco
Nate
Chip
Mac
Diaz/Anderson
KJ
Kotch
Pitcher

Kotch really cant lead off. He is a prototypical 2 hitter. He is way too slooooow to leadoff. I like the idea of Yunel leading the charge. His career numbers show he is actually better in the leadoff spot

Batting leadoff he has 309 abs 51 runs scored 20 2b, 6 hr 34 rbi .317 avg .378 obp .440 slg leading to a .818 ops

As a # 2

359 abs 49 runs scored 20 2b, 4 hr 39 rbi .287 avg, 358 obp 387 slg 745 OPS

He should lead off and we could have

yunel
kotch
nate
chip
mccann
ga/diaz
kj
frenchy
pitcher

atl_braves_fan
06-05-2009, 02:32 PM
The 7th spot may be bad for Frenchy.This season he's hitting .190 in the 7th spot with a .484 ops.In the 6th spot he's hitting .284 with a .695 ops.Frenchy's weakest point is his plate discipline,the lower he bats the less amount of good pitches to hit and that's not going to favor the free swinging Francoeur.

You don't honestly think that .284 with a .695 ops is acceptable production do you? He may be better in the 6th than the 7th spot, but he is crap either way. I think that Francoeur should be hitting in the 5th spot ... in Gwinnett.

nps6724
06-05-2009, 02:41 PM
Esco swings at the first 2 pitches too often to leadoff. Sure he hits well, but when he doesn't get a hit it's a fast out. As for Kotch, we don't play a speed game anyway so speed isn't much of a factor. He most likely won't score from 1st on a double but that just means he's at 3rd with Nate, Chip, and Mac due up. He'd still get to 2nd on a sac bunt and on the majority of singles, he'll score from 2nd.

iesportsfan
06-05-2009, 02:41 PM
You don't honestly think that .284 with a .695 ops is acceptable production do you? He may be better in the 6th than the 7th spot, but he is crap either way. I think that Francoeur should be hitting in the 5th spot ... in Gwinnett.

You missed the point,a free swinging hitter does worse the lower he bats.I still like the idea of letting Frenchy hit towards the top of the lineup 1 or 2 and letting guys like Kotch and Anderson who are models of plate discipline hit towards the bottom.

uncblue2332
06-05-2009, 02:45 PM
Esco swings at the first 2 pitches too often to leadoff. Sure he hits well, but when he doesn't get a hit it's a fast out. As for Kotch, we don't play a speed game anyway so speed isn't much of a factor. He most likely won't score from 1st on a double but that just means he's at 3rd with Nate, Chip, and Mac due up. He'd still get to 2nd on a sac bunt and on the majority of singles, he'll score from 2nd.

Esco's numbers dont lie that he is a better contact and power hitter in the leadoff position. AS youve seen with my last post, in fact he is less patient in the 2 spot because he isnt leading off he doesnt have to take pitches.

nps6724
06-05-2009, 02:45 PM
You missed the point,a free swinging hitter does worse the lower he bats.I still like the idea of letting Frenchy hit towards the top of the lineup 1 or 2 and letting guys like Kotch and Anderson who are models of plate discipline hit towards the bottom.

The problem is he is still going to swing early in the count and now you're getting him MORE ABs. He gets several good pitches now but he doesn't know which of them are good. Unless his power production increases, there's really NO good spot for him except AAA.

AustinTheGreat
06-05-2009, 02:46 PM
its gonna be interesting to see how bobby coaches Mclouth. He has 9 stolen bases this year, last year he was in the 20s in SB. I wonder if he will take chances and send him. I would love for him to be able to steal bases. We havent stolen on consistent basis since furcal.

cntrft76
06-05-2009, 02:52 PM
I say you give him the green light to run. He's not gonna steal more than 30 but when he does go he makes it. It seems like he knows when to go by his 93% success rate.

nps6724
06-05-2009, 02:58 PM
Esco's numbers dont lie that he is a better contact and power hitter in the leadoff position. AS youve seen with my last post, in fact he is less patient in the 2 spot because he isnt leading off he doesnt have to take pitches.

Your last post didn't show ANYTHING about patience, only production. Just doing better in another spot doesn't prove patience. I don't even know how you arrived at that conclusion.

For his career, Esco sees 3.45 pitches per AB and it's gone down each year. KJ, OTOH, sees 3.94 pitches per AB. For comparison, Francoeur sees 3.40.

Also, look at his walk rate. For his career leading off, he has 320 ABs and 28 walks (1 walk every 11.4). Batting 2nd, he has 50 walks in 509 ABs (1 walk every 10.2 ABs).

Esco is also NOT as good a contact hitter hitting leadoff. For his career, he has 44 SO in 320 ABs (1 SO every 7.3 ABs) as leadoff. Batting 2nd, 60 SO in 509 ABs (1 SO every 8.5 ABs).

So by the numbers, Esco hits better leading off but has less patience and makes less contact.

rtgthree
06-05-2009, 03:03 PM
I think it's a little early to be dissecting the lineup. We haven't yet seen McLouth yet, and he's got a skill set that can fit anywhere in the order, so let's get a look with him hitting third, and see where we go from there.

nps6724
06-05-2009, 03:04 PM
Sometimes rtg, you're just no fun.

uncblue2332
06-05-2009, 03:04 PM
Your last post didn't show ANYTHING about patience, only production. Just doing better in another spot doesn't prove patience. I don't even know how you arrived at that conclusion.

For his career, Esco sees 3.45 pitches per AB and it's gone down each year. KJ, OTOH, sees 3.94 pitches per AB. For comparison, Francoeur sees 3.40.

Also, look at his walk rate. For his career leading off, he has 320 ABs and 28 walks (1 walk every 11.4). Batting 2nd, he has 50 walks in 509 ABs (1 walk every 10.2 ABs).

Esco is also NOT as good a contact hitter hitting leadoff. For his career, he has 44 SO in 320 ABs (1 SO every 7.3 ABs) as leadoff. Batting 2nd, 60 SO in 509 ABs (1 SO every 8.5 ABs).

So by the numbers, Esco hits better leading off but has less patience and makes less contact.

how can you have less contact from the leadoff spot when your average, obp, and slg are all above your other option of batting second. That is the worst argument Ive heard. Im not really sure that patience in the one spot really matters that much. If you can get on and see a pitch early that you can get a hit with then why not go for it.

nps6724
06-05-2009, 03:11 PM
how can you have less contact from the leadoff spot when your average, obp, and slg are all above your other option of batting second. That is the worst argument Ive heard. Im not really sure that patience in the one spot really matters that much. If you can get on and see a pitch early that you can get a hit with then why not go for it.

A) Because he struck out more per AB than he does batting 2nd. It's not hard to figure out. You can EASILY have a higher BA, OBP, and SLG by getting more hits when you DO make contact. But it's still less contact.

B) Patience in the first spot most definitely matters because a leadoff hitter who sees a lot of pitches allows every other hitter in the game to see all his pitches. That's one of the many reasons Rickey Henderson was such a great one. Also, the leadoff hitter bats the most so someone who sees more pitches forces the opposing pitcher to throw more pitches. The more pitches thrown, the faster they go to the bullpen, which almost always has worse pitchers than the starters. Get into the bullpen early in a series, you make it harder the rest of the series to bring in relievers because they're overworked. And if you can do this to a division foe, you make it difficult on them for their next series. All by being patient.

The thing is, Esco hits for a higher BA leading off, but not much higher (35 points). But what happens when he gets out? He's seeing 1 or 2 pitches. It's great when he gets on, but when he doesn't the pitcher hasn't had to work at all. IIRC, Aaron Cook for the Rockies threw 82 pitches in his complete game against us due to our impatience. Esco is one of the leading offenders. You gotta make the pitcher work for outs.

uncblue2332
06-05-2009, 03:20 PM
A) Because he struck out more per AB than he does batting 2nd. It's not hard to figure out. You can EASILY have a higher BA, OBP, and SLG by getting more hits when you DO make contact. But it's still less contact.

B) Patience in the first spot most definitely matters because a leadoff hitter who sees a lot of pitches allows every other hitter in the game to see all his pitches. That's one of the many reasons Rickey Henderson was such a great one. Also, the leadoff hitter bats the most so someone who sees more pitches forces the opposing pitcher to throw more pitches. The more pitches thrown, the faster they go to the bullpen, which almost always has worse pitchers than the starters. Get into the bullpen early in a series, you make it harder the rest of the series to bring in relievers because they're overworked. And if you can do this to a division foe, you make it difficult on them for their next series. All by being patient.

The thing is, Esco hits for a higher BA leading off, but not much higher (35 points). But what happens when he gets out? He's seeing 1 or 2 pitches. It's great when he gets on, but when he doesn't the pitcher hasn't had to work at all. IIRC, Aaron Cook for the Rockies threw 82 pitches in his complete game against us due to our impatience. Esco is one of the leading offenders. You gotta make the pitcher work for outs.

Strikeouts really dont matter that much from the leadoff spot. When leading off in a game what is the difference between a flyball, groundball, or a strikeout, nothing no one is on base and there was no pressure to get a hit to begin with, and at this poitn anything is better than KJ's .234 batting avg from the leadoff spot the man just cant get it done there.

rtgthree
06-05-2009, 03:21 PM
Sometimes rtg, you're just no fun.

Very true. If I have a strong opinion, I'll fight for it. But if I just don't know, I'll say I just don't know. Not trying to tell you guys YOU shouldn't duke it out over the lineup order...I'm just not sure what evidence I have to make up my own mind.

nps6724
06-05-2009, 03:23 PM
Strikeouts really dont matter that much from the leadoff spot. When leading off in a game what is the difference between a flyball, groundball, or a strikeout, nothing no one is on base and there was no pressure to get a hit to begin with, and at this poitn anything is better than KJ's .234 batting avg from the leadoff spot the man just cant get it done there.

SOs have to do with making less contact. I wasn't saying SOs are a big deal for leadoff hitters. But if you strike out, you didn't make contact. And you only lead off a game once and rarely does a leadoff hitter lead off 3 or 4 innings in a game. When there's men on base, I'd much rather have a guy who makes more contact and strikes out less up there.

I'm also not advocating for KJ to leadoff either. I want to trade for someone or use Kotchman. He's not a typical leadoff hitter, but besides speed he has everything else you want in one.

uncblue2332
06-05-2009, 03:33 PM
SOs have to do with making less contact. I wasn't saying SOs are a big deal for leadoff hitters. But if you strike out, you didn't make contact. And you only lead off a game once and rarely does a leadoff hitter lead off 3 or 4 innings in a game. When there's men on base, I'd much rather have a guy who makes more contact and strikes out less up there.

I'm also not advocating for KJ to leadoff either. I want to trade for someone or use Kotchman. He's not a typical leadoff hitter, but besides speed he has everything else you want in one.

except leadoff hitter should be singles hitters. Kotch's doubles show he would be dominate at the 2 spot. If yunel got on with a single and kotch hit a double yunel would either be on third or back in the dugout with a run on the board and casey has batted in the 2 spot while at anaheim. I just believe yunel, kotch is the way to go

nps6724
06-05-2009, 03:37 PM
I'd rather have a doubles hitter leading off. A singles hitter has to steal a base, get bunted over, or wait for a hit to get into scoring position. Right now our offense relies on getting 3-4 hits to score a run. A double to lead off the game should equal an automatic run, especially with Esco, who hits to the right side a lot. That's the other advantage of having someone get on in front of Esco. His inside-out hitting is best suited for the 2 hole because he can go through the right-side gap when the 1B holds a runner and he can hit behind the runner to move him over.

uncblue2332
06-05-2009, 03:40 PM
I'd rather have a doubles hitter leading off. A singles hitter has to steal a base, get bunted over, or wait for a hit to get into scoring position. Right now our offense relies on getting 3-4 hits to score a run. A double to lead off the game should equal an automatic run, especially with Esco, who hits to the right side a lot. That's the other advantage of having someone get on in front of Esco. His inside-out hitting is best suited for the 2 hole because he can go through the right-side gap when the 1B holds a runner and he can hit behind the runner to move him over.

I just dont like the idea of having a turtle leadoff because thats how slow kotchman is. If he gets a single and esco hits a double he has to stop at 3rd no matter what if its the other way around esco will score half the time pending on how the ball is played by the fielder

nps6724
06-05-2009, 03:42 PM
Either way Kotch is slow. Anytime he's on 1st and someone hits a double, he's at 3rd. If Kotch singles and Nate doubles, same situation. And Esco ain't exactly Speedy Gonzalez. He's faster than Kotch for sure, but who isn't?

jmtapia
06-05-2009, 05:24 PM
We need power in our lineup....I rather see Mclouth hitting 3rd then Leadoff. We need those game changing XBHs... Plus he has been hitting 3rd all season and with Chipper and BMac protecting him he should get his fair share of ABs...

nps6724
06-05-2009, 05:29 PM
McLouth-Chipper-Mac may only produce 55 HR but just think of the doubles! Those 3 are doubles machines.

I just realized we now have 2 Macs on the team, Nate and Brian.

MrJones
06-05-2009, 06:12 PM
McLouth-Chipper-Mac may only produce 55 HR but just think of the doubles! Those 3 are doubles machines.

I just realized we now have 2 Macs on the team, Nate and Brian.

B-Mac and N-Mac....nah, don't like the sound of N-Mac.

But, Chipper would be the meat of the Big-Mac burger.:clap:

A_Brave_Pack
06-05-2009, 06:38 PM
But, Chipper would be the meat of the Big-Mac burger.:clap:

No homo. :D