Braves

Braves: Taking a look at some potential lineups

The Braves have made it clear their intention is to have Ronald Acuña, Josh Donaldson and Freddie Freeman lead off their lineup. That’s three guys who could account for 100 home runs between them. Things could change, depending on who the Braves end up acquiring before the start of the season- but for now- let’s see what that lineup would look like.

  1. Ronald Acuña Jr. (RF) (2018 WAR- 4.1)
  2. Josh Donaldson (3B) (2017 WAR- 5.1)
  3. Freddie Freeman (1B) (2018 WAR- 6.1)
  4. Brian McCann (C) (2018 WAR- 1.0)
  5. Johan Camargo (LF) (2018 WAR- 3.7)
  6. Ozzie Albies (2B) (2018 WAR- 3.8)
  7. Ender Inciarte (CF) (2018 WAR- 3.4)
  8. Dansby Swanson (SS) (2018 WAR- 2.3)
  9. Pitcher’s spot

Obviously, this is an era of major league baseball where your most powerful hitter can leadoff a game. We’ve seen it with Anthony Rizzo in Chicago, Byrce Harper at times with the Nats and Mookie Betts in Boston. The more at-bats these guys can get the better, and it helps if you have a high on-base percentage and some speed. Acuña falls into all those categories and really galvanized the lineup when they put him in the leadoff spot over the second-half of last season. It makes sense why they would want him there- but with this current group- there isn’t enough power behind Freeman to make it work.

This isn’t 2008 Brian McCann. He’s not the ideal bat to protect Freeman, so if the Braves don’t make any moves in the outfield, the lineup would likely have to look like this.

  1. Ender Inciarte (CF) (2018 WAR- 3.4)
  2. Josh Donaldson (3B) (2017 WAR- 5.1)
  3. Freddie Freeman (1B) (2018 WAR- 6.1)
  4. Ronald Acuña Jr. (RF)  (2018 WAR- 4.1)
  5. Johan Camargo (LF)  (2018 WAR- 3.7)
  6. Brian McCann (C)  (2018 WAR- 1.0)
  7. Ozzie Albies (2B)  (2018 WAR- 3.8)
  8. Dansby Swanson (SS)  (2018 WAR- 2.3)
  9. Pitcher’s spot

That also assumes Johan Camargo can play every day at left field. That may not be the case, which means Adam Duvall would be the starter, providing he breaks out of the slump he has been in since coming to Atlanta. However, I don’t think that’s something Braves fans are going to have to worry much about. The front office has made it no secret they are still looking to add another outfielder. Let’s say they opt to bring back Markakis.

  1. Ronald Acuña Jr. (LF)  (2018 WAR- 4.1)
  2. Josh Donaldson (3B) (2017 WAR- 5.1)
  3. Freddie Freeman (1B)  (2018 WAR- 6.1)
  4. Nick Markakis (RF)  (2018 WAR- 2.6)
  5. Brian McCann (C)  (2018 WAR- 1.0)
  6. Ozzie Albies (2B)  (2018 WAR- 3.8)
  7. Ender Inciarte (CF)  (2018 WAR- 3.4)
  8. Dansby Swanson (SS)  (2018 WAR- 2.3)
  9. Pitcher’s spot

You could see why Markakis won’t be the first option for the Braves in free agency, especially with their focus on having Acuña, Donaldson and Freeman at the top of the lineup. As much as I love Markakis, he lacks the necessary pop to really put fear into opposing teams. Teams aren’t going to give Freeman more pitches to hit with Markakis lurking in the on-deck circle. That doesn’t mean this could not happen. If the Braves don’t find the deal they are looking for this offseason, Markakis could definitely be brought back as an affordable and reliable option. I just think the lineup would look a little different.

  1. Ronald Acuña Jr. (LF)  (2018 WAR- 4.1)
  2. Ozzie Albies (2B)  (2018 WAR- 3.8)
  3. Freddie Freeman (1B)  (2018 WAR- 6.1)
  4. Josh Donaldson (3B)  (2017 WAR- 5.1)
  5. Nick Markakis (RF) (2018 WAR- 2.6)
  6. Brian McCann (C)  (2018 WAR- 1.0)
  7. Dansby Swanson (SS)  (2018 WAR- 2.3)
  8. Ender Inciarte (CF) (2018 WAR- 3.4)
  9. Pitcher’s Spot

Even with that lineup, there is still quite a bit of pop lacking in the latter half and Nick Markakis isn’t the ideal person to have behind Josh Donaldson- either- which is why the Braves are in the market for something a little more. Here’s what three lineups would look like with a few of those options. Some of these guys the Braves have been linked to, some they haven’t, but all are plenty realistic given the Braves’ needs and payroll.

     Option #1

  1. Ronald Acuña Jr. (RF)  (2018 WAR- 4.1)
  2. Josh Donaldson (3B) (2017 WAR- 5.1)
  3. Freddie Freeman (1B)  (2018 WAR- 6.1)
  4. David Peralta (LF)  (2018 WAR- 3.9)
  5. Brian McCann (C)  (2018 WAR- 1.0)
  6. Ozzie Albies (2B)  (2018 WAR- 3.8)
  7. Dansby Swanson (SS)  (2018 WAR- 2.3)
  8. Ender Inciarte (CF)  (2018 WAR- 3.4)
  9. Pitcher’s spot

     Option #2

  1. Andrew McCutchen (LF)  (2018 WAR- 2.7)
  2. Josh Donaldson (3B)  (2018 WAR- 5.1)
  3. Freddie Freeman (1B)  (2018 WAR- 6.1)
  4. Ronald Acuña Jr. (RF)  (2018 WAR- 4.1)
  5. Brian McCann (C)  (2018 WAR- 1.0)
  6. Ozzie Albies (2B)  (2018 WAR- 3.8)
  7. Dansby Swanson (SS)  (2018 WAR- 2.3)
  8. Ender Inciarte (CF)  (2018 WAR- 3.4)
  9. Pitcher’s spot

      Option #3

  1. Ronald Acuña Jr. (RF) (2018 WAR- 4.1)
  2. Michael Brantley (LF) (2018 WAR- 3.6)
  3. Freddie Freeman (1B) (2018 WAR- 6.1)
  4. Josh Donaldson (3B) (2018 WAR- 5.1)
  5. Brian McCann (C) (2018 WAR- 1.0)
  6. Ozzie Albies (2B) (2018 WAR- 3.8)
  7. Dansby Swanson (SS) (2018 WAR- 2.3)
  8. Ender Inciarte (CF) (2018 WAR- 3.4)
  9. Pitcher’s spot

There are some other capable options, but you get the picture. Markakis is an option, but he’s not the best option. The Braves biggest question mark surrounding their lineup is finding that perfect fit in the outfield, whether that be Johan Camargo undergoing a positional change or a deal to be made. Regardless, no pitcher is going to be anxious to come to Atlanta next summer.

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