Posted: 1:09 am Sunday, June 15th, 2014

Is it time to drop Freeman in batting order? 

By Jeff Schultz

Freddie Freeman had RBI double but is hitting .189 in last 24 games. (Curtis Compton)

That a Braves’ hitter is in a tailspin is not unusual.

That it’s Freddie Freeman is like some nonsensical alternate universe.

Freeman has been one of the team’s best and certainly most consistent hitters since 2011. He was the team’s best player a year ago, hitting .319 with 23 homers, 109 RBIs and a team-leading OPS (on-base plus slugging percentage) of .897. When he hit .397 in the first 18 games this season, all seemed well. Then came weirdness with a .227 average in 48 games and .188 in the last 23 before Saturday night’s game against the Los Angeles Angels.

Maybe Saturday was some small sign of a turnaround. Freeman’s ground-rule double knocked in the tying run in the ninth inning after B.J. Upton’s bases-clearing triple had closed the Angels’ lead to 5-4. The Braves ultimately lost 11-6 in 13 innings and Freeman’s batting line wasn’t great: 1-for-5 with three strikeouts, two walks (one intentional) and four runners stranded.

His season average is down to .273. Over the last 24 games, he is 17-for-90 (.189) with 27 strikeouts. Manager Fredi Gonzalez is thinking of giving him a day off, but should he also be thinking of dropping him from third in the order? It would eliminate Gonzalez’ concern of having three straight left-handed hitters at the top of the order if he elevates hot-hitting rookie Tommy La Stella to No. 2, behind Jason Heyward.

I wrote a full column on La Stella for MyAJC.com that can be found here (free link). He went 2-for-4 with two singles and two walks (one intentional) and was the only Braves’ starter to not strike out out on Saturday (they had 15 whiff). He’s hitting .377 in 15 games since being recalled from Gwinnett.

Gonzalez remains some cross between hopeful and confident that Freeman is coming out of his slump.

“Yeah, I think so,” he said. “You see games like that — he had a couple of walk and the RBI double to tie it. I think he’s close.”

Freeman left the clubhouse quickly following the game and was not available for comment.

Players like Freeman tend to get the benefit of the doubt in these situations. But this skid hasn’t been a small sample size.

On demand, just like Netflix: Recent blogs and columns (free links)
– MyAJC: Is La Stella that Prado-like spark Braves need?
– Blog: With ‘Hard Knocks,’ Falcons camp just became a clown show
– Blog: Weatherspoon injured (Is this happening again?)
– MyAJC: Braves’ Wren has hardest task of Falcons’ GMs
– Blog: Braves are golden … or doomed (you decide)
– MyAJC: Falcons need Bryan Cox to lead them to ‘the edge’
– Blog: Richt, Pruitt justified in making changes
– Blog: NCAA is still living in a fantasyland
– MyAJC: Kennesaw State’s footprint just got bigger
– Blog: Hawks’ assistant Snyder may get Utah job
– MyAJC: Hawks not as far from top in NBA as thought
– MyAJC: Georgia State’s Miles on SEC’s whines: ‘That’s their problem’
– Blog: SEC coaches don’t want rules skirted (Wait. What?)
– Blog: Braves’ move shouldn’t mean Uggla’s out…yet
– MyAJC: Cobb’s embarrassing handout to Braves hits the finish line
– Blog: Holiday 6-pack: Will Nats close on Braves?
– MyAJC: NCAA can’t reform with so many private agendas
– MyAJC: Bobinski doesn’t want excuse making at Tech
– MyAJC: Braves trade options likely limited
 
42 comments
Matt_Talbert
Matt_Talbert

La Stella, CJ, Heyward, Gattis, JUp, Freeman, Simmons, Schafer/BJ, P

AllenInAlabama
AllenInAlabama

La Stella 2B

J-Up RF

Heyward CF

Gattis LF

Freeman 1B

Johnson 3B

Betancourt C

Simmons SS


Just Do It!!!

DawgnIT
DawgnIT

Can we drop everyone to 8th?

KatieR620
KatieR620

NO,  but it is time to drop BJ Upton period.

People were upset at Josh Smith's pouty faces.  BJ is mad at life.  At least Josh Smith could do a few things well.

BJ is horrible at everything.

devounknown1000
devounknown1000

BATTING ORDER


My Choice


1. SCHAFER CF


2. LA 2B


3. HEYWARD RF


4. JUSTIN LF


5. FREEMAN 1B


6. GATTIS CATCHER


7. C.J 3B


8. SIMMONS SS


GO BRAVES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

devounknown1000
devounknown1000

BATTING ORDER


1. LA 2B


2. SIMMONS SS


3. HEYWARD RF


4. JUSTIN LF


5. GATTIS CATCHER


6. FREEMAN 1B


7. C. J 3B


8. B.J CF


GO BRAVES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

devounknown1000
devounknown1000

La Stella is showing off.


GO BRAVES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

HarveyPooka
HarveyPooka

Wasn't that long ago you all were ready to crown him as a deity, savior of the game and MVP of all mankind. Now, you think he belongs in Single A league.    Neither is correct so why don't you just keep quiet.

Wwatl34
Wwatl34

Guys we can argue about lineup all day and I would swap La Stella and BJ but if Walden doesn't come back strong, we're screwed. I think that's why they sent Wood down to stretch out. Someone is going to be moved at the deadline for BP help. I just hope it's not Wood

4DaBirds
4DaBirds

What Schultz knows about sports wouldn't fill up a thimble.

OldschoolRick
OldschoolRick

Jeff - This should be the Braves batting order:


1) T La Stella (hits for avg, good contact, table setter)

2) A Simmons (can bunt, can handle bat, more logical #2) - could also be C. Johnson

3) J Upton

4) F Freeman

5) E Gattis

6) J Hayward

7) C Johnson

8) B Upton

9) Pitcher


Please consider presenting to Gonzalez

Termigator
Termigator

I don't know about Freddie, but it is past time to send worthless BJ Upton to Gwinnett. He sucks at the plate and in the field. He is a waste and now we know why he could not get along with Joe Madden in Tampa. The only thing I can figure is he has to secret pictures of either Freddie Gonzalez or Fran Wren.

Hammerman
Hammerman

Three weeks in the show and La Stella is the only hitter pitchers fear.Pure contact and only one in this hack line up that knows the zone.Freeman got his cheese and will suck for 8 years,just like every other Wren extension.Throw Johnson and Simmons on the got my money can't hit list.Simmons doesn't save that many runs to make up for his no walk undisciplined low OBP actions at the dish .3rd Place!

tmc
tmc

This team has a lot of problems on it... Freddie Freeman aint one of them. 

Hey Schultz, how bout you focus your attention on something that's been a problem for the last 2 years: 

CF & BJ Upton and Frank Wren's idiotic signing.


58Supersports
58Supersports

I've been a Braves fan since 1966.... I've seen it all but this team takes the cake. Wren has put together a group of losers  with a joke for manager. They do less with what the have than any of the past teams and I've been here for the long haul. The Angels are a very exciting team...Hit and run, bunt for base hit, bunt  to move runners, steals, hit for average, power and play great defense....only need better pitching. Shame Braves can't do that.  Yesterday Angels had a coach doing  the  managing (out managed) and he did a better job than Fredi , Maybe Braves need to hire him to take FG's job.

Frank Wren  has really F this team up, should be fired. ASP!




BooBooBear
BooBooBear

Schafer - CF

Simmons - SS

Freeman - 1B

Gattis - C

Hayward - RF

La Stella - 2B

J. Upton - LF

Johnson - 3B


Pena is only allowed to PH as a RH batter, regardless whose pitching.

Uggla is never to be used as a PR.

BJ Upton, C. Johnson, and D. Uggla must always swing at the first pitch and never swing in any 3-ball count.


Fire Freddi Gonzalez, Doug Descenzo, and Greg Walker


Only pitchers who can successfully bunt are allowed to pitch.

bigcooterb
bigcooterb

Fredi needs time off and I don't mean Freeman.  How about the rest of the season.

chrisbeyer
chrisbeyer

The braves need more on a consistent basis than one hot hitter (Gattis right now).   That and a average at best bullpen, one ace starter with journeymen behind him and I am starting to see a team that will struggle to be a .500 ball club.   Wouldn't surprise me in the least to see them have a losing record.  

Wilbo
Wilbo

Instead of dropping Freeman down the order, why don't we drop the personification of a gutless incompetent organization -- the Atlanta Braves-- from our consciousness?

We_Will_Get_Fooled_Again
We_Will_Get_Fooled_Again

Considering Fredi acts like moving La Stella into the 2-hole is equivalent to getting a law passed through Congress, I doubt we'll see Freeman dropped in the order in the near future. It makes sense, but Fredi has proved to be stubborn as a mule when it comes to moving guys out of "their spot" in the lineup.

seminoleking
seminoleking

is chris johnson playing golf or baseball???? lol.......... his swing is EXACTLY like a drive off the tee.......lol

DrPhill
DrPhill

Fredi pulls the best hitter on the team in a tie game for less than speedy runner, Uggla.  In terms of stupidity, that move equals having the .093 hitter, Harang, swing away with no outs and the bases loaded in a previous loss.  The discussion of where Freeman hits is irrelevant in the face of such incompetent management.

JSW73
JSW73

I say that if FG were to drop FF to say 5, FF would not whine and complain. He would still go about trying to improve and help the Braves win. I noticed last night, and maybe it was just me, but FF didn't look right. He looked tired and stressed. He might just need a day off to clear his head.


I also think LaStella needs to move to the 2 hole. He has hit every where FG has plugged him in (8,7,6). Who cares how BJ feels.


LINE UP

RF Heyward

2B LaStella

RF JUP

C  Gattis

1B Freeman

SS Simmons

3B Johnson

CF BJ


You can swap Gattis and Freeman depending on the lefty/righty match ups.

BooBooBear
BooBooBear

The Angels-Braves game seemed like a Father-Son game, where no matter how good the Fathers (Angels) were, they were going to let the Sons (Braves) win.  Then it got to be time to put the kiddies to bed.  More pee-wee outfield play.  Any pitcher who plays Atlanta with a game plan to throw strikes is a real loser.  The Braves will swing at any and all pitches out of the strike zone, even when the bases are loaded and a 3-0 count.  Freeman must have taken an oath - Never walk, I have to carry all the dead weight.  Maybe, if they had a manager?

drewK
drewK

Who cares...

Go Nationals!

rogerpellerin
rogerpellerin

Let's not drop B J from the #2 spot, let's drop him from the team. Release Uggla, and trade Justin Upton

for a center fielder, leadoff hitter.  Please bat LaStella in the #2 spot and bring up an infielder to take Johnson's place against right hand pitching. Aren't there any brains on the Braves organization.
Got to be the worst in baseball.

southgabrave
southgabrave

myline-up

Schafer-cf

LaStella-2b

Freeman-1b

Gattis-C

Heyward-rf

Justin-lf

Johnson-3b

Simmons-ss

P

southgabrave
southgabrave

What Fredi needs is a coule days off, maybe 3

seminoleking
seminoleking

yes, freeman should be dropped. funny, i was thinking the SAME thing yesterday. he is not above being dropped down just like anybody else on that team. i would drop him and move justin upton up to the 3 hole, and gattis to cleanup. my reasoning is upton is a pure fastball hitter. they dinking and dunking him at cleanup because there are usually at least two outs when he gets up there. move gattis into cleanup, and justin will get his fastballs. move freeman into the 5 hole. drop bj.upton to 6th spot, move la stella up to the 2 hole. again, bj is not a bottom of the order hitter, even with his struggles. my lineup:


heyward

la stella

justin upton

gattis

freeman

bj upton

simmons

johnson

pitcher

BobStrickland
BobStrickland

Usually when Freddy is not hitting, it's because he's having problems with his eyes. I haven't heard anything about that this time, but that's usually the situation.  


Batting BJ second makes no sense; he's the worst hitter on the team.  Against right handers, I would go with Heyward, La Stella, Justin Upton, Freeman, Gattis, Johnson, Simmons, and BJ Upton.  While that loads lefties at the top of the order, it also puts ducks on the pond for the guys who can drive in runs.

kb825g
kb825g

I know B.J is the default scapegoat, but clearly neither Freddie Freeman or Chris Johnson are earning their big deals. People forget that when Schaefer played last year he didn't set the world on fire with more playing time. There is a reason he has not been a consistent starter and it's not always Freddie.

panamaralph
panamaralph

The line-up should not be set in concrete the way Fredi does, move them around according to who the pitcher is their facing and who hot.

Birdhair
Birdhair

BJ hit .184 last season and he is barely hitting over .200 this season. Let's question why he's batting 2nd, please

MaxSizemore
MaxSizemore

Actually, Jeff, it HAS been a small sample size.  You can look it up.

WhopperDawg
WhopperDawg

And whom would you move to 3rd?


When you have deuces and threes, you can shuffle 'em all you want and you still have deuces and threes - Freeman is the only face card you have. Leave him at 3.

JohnKimble
JohnKimble

Let's be real. BJ has a sparkling .209 average but Fredi won't move him from that spot even though he had the perfect opportunity (by his own admission) to plug La Stella second in lineup during this Angels series. 


Mark Bowman ‏@mlbbowman  9h

Because the Angels do not have a lefty in their pen, Fredi at least thought about batting La Stella second tonight


La Stella has been nothing but brilliant since promotion.

I would be shocked if Freeman gets moved in the line up before BJ, but Fredi being Fredi, who knows. Freeman, as opposed to some of the other under achievers actually deserves the benefit of the doubt for now.

Matt_Talbert
Matt_Talbert

I feel like CJ's hitting approach is good for the 2-hole.  I believe he'd stop trying to power up and just hit like he always has.

theoriginaltruth
theoriginaltruth

@seminoleking  Swap Gattis and Freeman in this lineup and appease Fredi's obsession with the lefty-righty thing. Gattis provides more protection for Freddie than Justin would....or Bat Gattis Freeman Justin in the 3-4-5 slot....


Either way Freeman drops back in the order a notch or two and see how he responds.........

seminoleking
seminoleking

@kb825g exactly. really, the ONLY consistent hitters the braves have right now are la stella, heyward and gattis.

panamaralph
panamaralph

@WhopperDawg I would move Gattis to the 3 spot and Freeman to the 5 hole, move LaStella to the 2 spot and platoon BJ and Schafer in the 8th spot.