This has finally been getting talked about this week. But the people on tv talking about it are still missing one big point. Most of them say they have talked to some stats guys and they tell them that batting 2nd in the lineup as opposed to 6th in the lineup would get a hitter about 80 more at bats over the course of a season.
That's an important point. Heyward is one of the Braves best hitters. You want your best hitters to get to the plate as often as possible. Some of the analysts agreed with my opinion on opening day that Heyward should be batting 2nd or even 3rd.
But Tim McCarver and the guys on Fox today pretty much disregarded what the stats say and sided with Fredi Gonzalez mostly because he has played the game and stat geeks haven't. To be a bit fair, they did acknowledge what the stat guys have found which is that lineups don't really account for a big difference in runs over the course of a season. But a few runs could lead to a game or two. And that game or two could be the difference between making the playoffs and not.
The other big point everyone missed is that Heyward gets on base more often than McClouth and every other Braves hitter. If Hewyard were to get 80 more at bats hitting 2nd and he got on base 40% of the time like he did last season that means he would be on base 32 more times than if he was batting 6th in the lineup.
Nate McClouth, the current #2 guy in the lineup, is a career .336 OBP. That's not good, terrible for a hitter so high in the lineup. The plain and simple fact is that he will not get on base in front of Chipper Jones as often as Heyward would. Part of the reasoning from Gonzalez was that he wanted McClouth to see more fastballs in front of Chipper. Well, why not let Heyward, the better hitter see more fastballs? And if they are afraid to pitch to him, that means he might get on base even more often than 40% of the time. It just doesn't make a lot of sense to me. Apparently Gonzalez didn't pick up many pointers when he went to a sabermetric convention last season.
One comment from the incredibly annoying Tim McCarver (I went to the same high school in Memphis as he did) I want to address. He said that if you get more at bats batting higher in the order then why don't you bat Albert Pujols leadoff? Well smartass. You don't bat him leadoff because you want him to have as many opportunities as possible to drive in runs. The leadoff batter will not have as many men on base as the third hitter will because he has the worse hitters in the lineup hitting in front of him. Hell, that's conventional baseball wisdom. Am I'm sure he knows that. He just wanted to make fun of stats guys because he can't summon the energy to think and use some logic while getting paid to give an opinion on air.