The Austin Riley show has made it to Atlanta, and the fans have to be ecstatic with what they’ve seen from him through six games. With his presence, there is not an “easy out” in the order from 1-8. For too long, the Braves have essentially been hitting two pitchers in the 8th and 9th spot. Ender Inciarte is a Gold Glove center fielder, but even most of his hits should come with an asterisk. There’s not much pop in his bat, and at the core of this game, it’s about scoring runs. Austin Riley makes this team better, and I’m not sure where Inciarte fits any longer.
Over his first week in the bigs, Riley is hitting .409, slugging .864, and has an OPS of 1.298! Those numbers are not sustainable at all, but they are an indication of what Riley can do. He brings a power bat with a natural swing to Atlanta. You can hit him anywhere from 3-8th in the order, and he would be able to produce. Which lineup catches your eye?
Lineup #1 Lineup #2
1) Acuña 1) Acuña
2)Markakis 2) Dansby
3)Freeman 3) Freeman
4)Donaldson 4) Donaldson
5)Riley 5) Markakis
6)Swanson 6) Albies
7)McCann/Flowers 7) McCann/Flowers
8)Albies 8) Inciarte
Lineup #1 is miles better. Inciarte has a -.1 WAR and a slash line of .218/.300/.323. That is awful, and no amount of defense can make up for the black hole he creates in the lineup. Austin Riley already has a 0.6 WAR on the season. Remember, he’s only played in six games. This is a future cornerstone for the franchise. He is expected by many within the organization to man a middle-of-the-order spot for years to come, and that reign may have begun on Wednesday, May 15th. If Riley continues to hit, I expect Ender will be the main piece in a trade for bullpen help at some point shortly for the Braves.