For the most part, the Braves lineup has been electric this season. They have more talent than they have had in years from top to bottom. However, what is really holding them back is not having any leadoff hitting production this season.
Ronald Acuna and Ozzie Albies are both blessed with great speed, but one could argue it may not make sense for the Braves to put their power sources earlier in the lineup.
Ender Inciarte is a valuable player, but he has failed the Braves out of the leadoff position this season. After being the only Brave to make the All-Star Game a season ago, he has hit .236 with a miserable .585 OPS as the Braves leadoff guy.
With Ozzie Albies, Freddie Freeman and Nick Markakis all in the midst of all-star seasons at the top of the lineup, the Braves have to get some type of production to maximize this offensive attack.
There is hope for Inciarte, however. Despite his struggles with the stick he still has 23 steals, already higher than his total from last year. That should not go ignored. Inciarte has also proven to be a second half player in his time with the Braves. He is a career .264 first-half hitter, and a career .318 second-half hitter. If Inciarte can have one of his second half surges, things could get ugly for opposing pitching staffs. His defense is so great that his value to the team still has a solid floor.
It may be in Brian Snitker’s best interest to plug in Ronald Acuna at the leadoff spot for now and just see what happens. This would allow Inciarte to shift down in the lineup and figure things out. It could also turn out to be a game-changing adjustment. However, if he heats back up, Inciarte is the guy.
One thing is for sure. The Braves could sure use having that first man get on base.