Remaking the Atlanta lineup
June, 16, 2014
By Buster Olney | ESPN.com
Scott Cunningham/Getty ImagesBatting Tommy La Stella near the top of the lineup is an option for Atlanta.ATLANTA -- Freddie Freeman is now 24 years old and like Andrew McCutchen of the Pirates, he is learning that opposing pitchers have decided they simply have no reason to give him anything to hit.
Going into Sunday’s game, Freeman had seen the third-fewest pitches in the strike zone in all of baseball, behind Pablo Sandoval and Giancarlo Stanton, as you can see here (Sandoval is a big hacker, Stanton an obvious power threat):
Pablo Sandoval, SF: 36.9 percent
Giancarlo Stanton, MIA: 39.1 percent
Freddie Freeman, ATL: 40.1 percent
David Ortiz, BOS: 40.2 percent
Those numbers -- and the generally poor numbers for most of the Atlanta batters -- have created a quandary for Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez, who must structure his lineup in such a way that will nudge opposing pitchers to throw to Freeman. At the same time, there is a concern about stacking one part of the order with too many strikeout hitters.
For the readers: Put yourself in Gonzalez's shoes and consider the Rubik's Cube that is the Atlanta lineup structure. This is what Gonzalez opted for on Sunday night