Projecting the Braves starting lineups with the universal DH

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Baseball is back, assuming the players co-sign the league’s mandated 60-game season, which they are expected to do. Because the two sides could not agree, many of the tweaks we were expecting will not be in place, like expanded playoffs. However, there will still be a universal DH this season — just not in 2021 — since it was apart of the agreement between the league and the MLBPA on March 26th. It’s also worth mentioning that the two sides still have a month before Opening Day to make a deal, or at the very least, adjustments to their current plan. That means expanded playoffs and other possibilities are still in play. We will just have to wait and see how things play out.

But for now, let’s talk about the things we do know. It will be a 60-game season, and there will be a DH in the National League for at least this season. Luckily, Atlanta has a roster built like an American League team, loaded with bats on the bench, so Brian Snitker will have a ton of flexibility when filling out his lineup card each day. Let’s take a look at how he might approach them to start the season.

Lineup vs. Lefties


  1. Ronald Acuna Jr., CF
  2. Ozzie Albies, 2B
  3. Freddie Freeman, 1B
  4. Marcell Ozuna, LF
  5. Austin Riley, DH
  6. Adam Duvall, RF
  7. Johan Camargo, 3B
  8. Travis d’Arnaud, C
  9. Dansby Swanson, SS

That’s a pretty loaded lineup. The first four spots are set in stone. Acuna is the leadoff man, followed by his best buddy Ozzie Albies. Freddie Freeman will be in the three-hole for the Braves until he decides to hang it up, and Marcell Ozuna takes over as the cleanup bat, replacing Josh Donaldson. Spots 5-9 could be shuffled throughout the season, depending on who has the hot stick.

I have Austin Riley batting fifth because if he bounces back from his sluggish second half of last year, he is a prototypical power bat fit for the middle of the lineup, and that is where the Braves want him. Since it’s a lefty on the mound, I expect Ender Inciarte to be on the bench a lot of the time, especially if Duvall can continue to hit like he did last year, making this lineup that much more potent. Camargo had a hot start in spring training part one, so he’s a slight favorite to win the everyday job at third base because of his glove. Rounding out the lineup, I have Dansby Swanson. Swanson’s an intriguing piece because if he’s hot, he could hit as high as second, but I like him batting ninth with Acuna protecting him, forcing pitchers to give him good pitches hit.

Lineup vs. Righties


  1. Ronald Acuna Jr., RF
  2. Ozzie Albies, 2B
  3. Freddie Freeman, 1B
  4. Marcell Ozuna, DH
  5. Nick Markakis, LF
  6. Johan Camargo, 3B
  7. Travis d’Arnaud, C
  8. Dansby Swanson, SS
  9. Ender Inciarte, CF

This lineup may not be as powerful as the one against lefties, but it still possesses a ton of upside. The first four remain the same. Nick Markakis should start in some capacity against right-handed pitching, whether in the field or as a DH. Johan Camargo receives the nod at third base because of his switch-hitting ability. However, if Austin Riley catches fire, he should be in the lineup every day. He is that talented. d’Arnaud remains the starting catcher, although I do expect Tyler Flowers to receive some spot starts throughout the season (most likely against left-handed pitching). Dansby Swanson moves up a place in the order, and Ender Inciarte brings up the rear, essentially serving as a second leadoff batter.

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