BRAVES’ 2017 LINEUP LOOKS MUCH IMPROVED

It’s probably too early for this……but I can’t help myself. Heck, I’d imagine Brian Snitker has done this MANY times over the last few months.

What might the Braves Opening Day Roster look like? Well, here goes.

1. #11 ENDER INCIARTE – CF
DUH!
In the 2nd half of last season he hit .341, posted an on base percentage of .396, and he scored 59 runs over a 72 game span. If he’s on the field, he’s leading off.

2. #7 DANSBY SWANSON – SS
The future is now. Swanson’s 2017 Rookie of the Year campaign begins now. In 2016 we saw him play in 38 games. He dazzled in the field and exceeded expectations at the plate. 101 of his 145 plate appearances came batting 8th………he went on to hit .333 over that span. That’s really impressive, especially for a kid batting 8th. Many have projected him to be a career 2-hole guy who can reach base and score a bunch of runs. Look for that experiment to begin this season.

3. #5 FREDDIE FREEMAN – 1B
He was one of the best hitters on planet earth last season. He hit .302 and belted a career high 34 home runs in 2017. He’s the face of the franchise. He hits 3rd.

4. #27 MATT KEMP – LF
Upon coming to Atlanta last August, Kemp made the lineup significantly better. In 56 games, he hit .280, crushed 12 home runs. The stats of the players around him blasted off as well, as the team averaged over 5 runs per game after the Kemp acquisition. He is easily the best option to hit clean-up for this bunch.

5. #22 NICK MARKAKIS – RF
Last year we saw his average drop 27 points, but his power numbers increased by 10 home runs and 36 RBIs. Nick hit 5th in 73 games a year ago and I believe that’s where he’ll be on April 3rd in New York.

6. #4 BRANDON PHILLIPS – 2B

Atlanta Braves infielders Brandon Phillips, right, and Ender Inciarte shake hands during the first full-squad spring training workout. (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack)

The newest Brave on the roster, but already a fan favorite since he’s from Atlanta. He’ll fit in very well in Braves country, but where will he fit in in the lineup? It wouldn’t shock me at all is we saw him bounce around a bit. He could hit 2nd a time or two, but Snit has already gone on record saying “Phillips will be a solid addition to the middle of the order.” 6th seems about right in my opinion.

7. #13 ADONIS GARCIA – 3B
This guy hit ALL OVER THE PLACE last season. He had at least one plate appearance in every slot of the batting order minus leadoff. Sure, some of those were only because he was pinch hitting, but never the less, he should be comfortable hitting wherever Snit pencils him in. His best numbers came while hitting 2nd, but hitting 2nd probably won’t be happening very often this season. He provides a power threat deep in the order, and I believe hitting 7th fits Adonis’ abilities.

8. #25 TYLER FLOWERS – C
To be honest, he’s here because it’s the only slot remaining. Could he hit higher? Perhaps. Will he? Not sure. There will be days when Snit juggles things a bit and allows Tyler to hit higher in the order, but with the rest of the cast you have, it’s hard to imagine Flowers hitting anywhere other than 7th or 8th. He’s coming off a career-high .270 batting average. Would love to see him do that again while adding 10-15 homers.

9. #49 JULIO TEHERAN – P
If he’s healthy, he’s the Opening Day starter.

So there you go. April 3rd is closer than you think. We’ll see how close this projection is to reality in a little over a month.

– Ben Ingram
Pregame/Postgame Host – Braves Radio Network
@IngramRadio

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