The Braves may make a couple more acquisitions between now and Opening Day, but their starting lineup looks to be set in stone unless the universal DH is agreed upon at the final hour. Any additions made between now and late March will most likely be focused on strengthening their bullpen and bench. Perhaps Alex Anthopoulos has a blockbuster trade up his sleeve, but I would be pretty shocked. The Braves should be very confident in the starting lineup they have heading into 2021.
- Ronald Acuña Jr. (RF)
- Ozzie Albies (2B)
- Freddie Freeman (1B)
- Marcell Ozuna (LF)
- Travis d’Arnaud (C)
- Dansby Swanson (SS)
- Austin Riley (3B)
- Cristian Pache (CF)
- Pitcher’s Spot (Max Fried)
As you can see, not much changes from last year’s lineup in the NLCS. Acuña thrives in the leadoff spot, and with Marcell Ozuna back in the fold, there is no reason to move him from there. He will also move to right field full-time, where he’s looked extremely comfortable in the past, now that Cristian Pache has arrived.
The two-hole is really the only spot I see up for grabs. Both Albies and Swanson have hit there and had a lot of success. I’m expecting Albies to have a monstrous bounce-back campaign after an injury-plagued 2020, and he’s shown much more consistency over his career than Swanson. However, Dansby is trending up, so it wouldn’t surprise me if he etched his name on the second spot in the order permanently this season.
After that, I have Freeman moving back to the three-hole. Brian Snitker spoke to the media yesterday and said he hasn’t figured out what the lineup will look like yet, but it’s obvious Freeman will hit third if there is no DH in the National League. There will be significantly more RBI opportunities for him there.
Ozuna and d’Arnaud continue to protect Freeman in the order, followed by Swanson, who I’ve already discussed, Riley and Pache. Perhaps Riley moves up at some point. He’ll have to show more consistency, but his power makes him a middle-of-the-order threat if he can cut down on his strikeouts.
I have Max Fried taking the ball on Opening Day this year, and there isn’t anyone more deserving. The strides he’s made over the last couple of seasons have been astounding, and I don’t expect it to stop. His stuff gets better every year, and his bulldog mentality is what every “ace” needs. Nobody should be trusted more to get the Braves going on the right foot than the lefty out of Santa Monica, California.
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