Offensive woes and frustration mounting

The Braves were spared being on the wrong end of history again last night.  But they still endured a rarity that has proven to be too common over the last 10 days.

While flirting with a no-hitter into the eighth inning last night, Marlins ace Josh Johnson further frustrated a Braves offense that has been a disappointment during the first two weeks of this season.  There’s no shame in being dominated by Johnson.  But Fredi Gonzalez’s boys have been doing a little too much hat tipping during the season’s first 12 games.

Courtesy of Chipper Jones’ ninth-inning solo homer off Randy Choate, the Braves were spared being shut out for the third time in a span of eight games.  Jones’ solo shot and Freddie Freeman’s one-out double off Johnson in the eighth inning, accounted for the two hits registered by the Braves in the 5-1 loss.

This marked the 85th time since moving to Atlanta in 1966 that the Braves have tallied two hits or fewer in a game.  To break that down further, it has happened in just 1.2 percent of the games they’ve played during that span.

Unfortunately for Gonzalez, his club has already tallied two hits or fewer in 16 percent (2 of 12) of this year’s games.  Or for you masochists who don’t care about the meaningless of numbers produced by even smaller sample sizes, the Braves have notched two hits or fewer in 25 percent of their past eight games.

This is just the third time in Atlanta Braves history that they have recorded two hits or fewer in two April games.  The most recent instance had been  April 10, 1989 at Houston and April 15, 1989 at San Francisco.

Any of you who currently feel that you might have been too rough on Terry Pendleton over the past couple seasons can simply give him a wave when you’re at the park and near the first base box.   He’s a forgiving soul.

These offensive problems are not a product of Pendleton’s teachings or those of new hitting coach Larry Parrish.  In fact right now, you could argue that a number of factors have led the Braves to produce a National League-worst .280 on-base percentage and hit just .222 (the NL’s second-worst mark).

There isn’t reason to panic just two weeks into the season.  But if this third week proves to be as frustrating as the second week was, the Braves might find themselves in a hole at a time when they were supposed to be separating themselves from the injury-riddled Phillies.

Many of you have said you want Nate McLouth removed from the two hole.  Given that he has hit .220 and gotten on base at a .289 clip, that might happen.

I think Jason Heyward is best served in the middle of the lineup where he can consistently draw RBI opportunities.  But if McLouth isn’t in the two hole, Heyward might be the best option by default.

Freddie Freeman is showing signs that he’s ready to go on an offensive tear and I don’t think he would be fazed if he was batting second.  But this would just add one more speed-challenged body to the top of this order.

While hitting .249 with a .292 on-base percentage since the start of the 2010 season, Alex Gonzalez doesn’t appear to be a prime candidate.

Thus if these offensive woes continue, Gonzalez might have no other choice to put Heyward back in the two hole.

With all of this being said, McLouth’s presence in the two hole certainly hasn’t been the primary reason this offense has proven to be subpar during the season’s first two weeks.

Jones has done his job hitting .310 with four doubles and a homer in the three hole.  But it’s definitely concerning that his extra-base hits total (5) is greater than the combined total (4) of Dan Uggla (two homers and a hustle double) and Brian McCann (one homer).

McCann and Uggla will eventually generate the kind of production expected in the middle of the lineup.   But for now, their lack of power has served as just one of the many variables that has made the first two weeks of the season frustrating for the Braves and their fans.

21 Comments

Heyward should hit in the 2 hole. Uggla should move to the 3 hole and Chipper to 4. Heyward will get plenty of solid looks at good pitches to hit being in front of a sure-to-get-hot-soon Dan Uggla. Chipper will also get some good looks hitting in front of the always dangerous Brian McCann. This lineup should be murdering people, and I think they will soon!

Why are you, and everyone else it seems, afraid to move Chipper up a spot to the two hole and have the team’s best hitter, Heyward, batting third? Chipper consistently gets on base by either good hitting or drawing walks and would be an excellent candidate to move Prado into scoring position for Heyward to drive in some runs from the three hole. Bat Uggla in clean-up, McCann fifth, Freeman sixth, A-Gon seventh, the Pitcher 8th, and take all pressure off McClouth and bat him 9th and have him be able to be like an extra leadoff hitter with some speed able to be moved by guys like Prado and Chipper.

Sure would be nice to have Muctcheon instead of McLouth!

I went to two of the Braves home games thus far and I am extremely frustrated, especially after last night. It is so disappointing to go to a game, spend a lot of money to see a team you have grown up watching and idolizing, and be let down in this way. It was written all over Chippers face whenever he accomplished the 1500th RBI, pure frustration. Lets hope we can turn it around!

Crazy lineup that will never happen:

Prado
Chipper
Heyward
Uggla
McCann
Gonzalez
Freeman
-pitcher-
McLouth

In what way is that crazy at all?

Not Fredi’s style. Won’t happen.

Agree Brandon. Thats the order we want to see, esp as chipper is now running better.

I seem to remember this happened in april last year too. The offence seemed to get shut out every game or score 8 or 9 with little in between.

I agree that would be my lineup with the exception of the bottom 3: McLouth, Freeman, pitcher. Having an “RBI guy” is kind of ridiculous when said “RBI guy” also will probably lead the team in OBP. Like I said before, it’s about manufacturing runs, not playing for stats. Which would you rather have? Player 1: 120 RBIs, Player 2: 70 RBI, Player 3: 70 RBI… or all 3 with 90 RBIs?
Heyward getting on base more than 40% of the time w Chipper, Uggla, and Mac behind him to me is more valuable than hoping those guys get on base for Heyward. They’re all great hitters and will all drive in runs. It doesn’t matter which one does because it will happen. So far Nate has what, 4-5 more at bats than Heyward? JH gets on base over 40% of the time? This is easy math. Uggla gets 100+ RBIs a season w a lower OBP than Heyward. Mac 80+. Chipper is Chipper.
Bottom line.. Heyward has 3 HR, 9 H, with only 6 RBIs so far. He also has an OBP of .400. Oh, and Nate McLouth has had more at bats with men on base than Heyward so far this year, and only 1 less with RISP.

I think putting the pitcher 8th and McLouth 9th would still give Chipper the sense that he is hitting 3rd, if that makes any sense. It also figures to give McLouth less at bats with runners on, and more chances to get on in front of the entire heart of the order.

Oh and Alex Gonzalez has had more opportunities with MOB and RISP. Maybe Heyward should hit 7th.. OH WAIT! Those inflated stats ARE BECAUSE of Heyward! So if J Hey doesn’t get an extra base hit, because Uggla is a terrible baserunner and probably could not go home from 1st on a double.. or home from 2nd on a single.. he has to never try and walk because he hits in front of the 3 weakest hitters on the club.

just imagine having prado, chipper, heyward, uggla and mccann hitting in a row. That is a recipe for some scoring innings.

At the moment we have McLouth in the middle of it all causing outs. Its like francoeur and Kelly all over again. We have a few guys who will hit .300 (or close) with power. Lets him them in a row without having a mendoza guy making outs in the middle of them (and unprotective outs usually due to a bad swing).

Mclouth at number two makes ZERO statistical sense

4 runs with 0 outs in the first. Nice to see McLotuh get a hit too :)

McLouth gets hits every game. It’s just rare anyone drives him in, or that he has a multi-hit game.

Viva, how do you get that Uggla is a terrible base runner. I’m guessing because you can’t say he plays lousy defense any more? I mean the guy doesn’t steal many bases but he has the most 30 HR seasons by any 2nd baseman in ML history. Nobody is really hiring Uggla for his speed. All I know is every time I see him do anything, he is hustling. Maybe he is a tad slow, but not necessarily a “terrible” base runner.

His hustle busting out that single he turned into a double the other night surprised me.

Man – I really thought if it ever came down to battle of the bullpens between us and the Marlins that we would win that every time. We’re supposed to win games in which bullpens are going head to head.

I have a feeling this lineup will get produce astronomically better once Uggla begins to get hot.

Everyone is still giving Mclouth hell…I think he’s coming around especially compared to last year. And I think our team is looking great so far except for the fact that we are obviously not hitting. But I believe the offense is our strong point (and it will start producing like it should) and with the D and pitching performing like they are, the season is looking pretty promising. I would like a change in the lineup tho…
vs RHP Vs. LHP
1.Prado 1.Mclouth
2.Mclouth 2. Prado
3.Heyward 3.Heyward
4.McCann 4.Uggla
5.Uggla 5.McCann
6.Chipper 6.Chipper
7.Gonzo 7.Gonzo
8.Freeman 8.Freeman

Or at least some form of lineup where its a LHP lineup or a RHP lineup…not just the exact same one every night that isnt producing (bobby would mix things up). O and I only move Chip down bc of his legs (plus protection for Uggla) and bc I feel he can get a single whenever he wants right now, so why not put some RISP and let him do that instead of him trying to do too much every time? Plus it’ll keep him off the bases as much and allow him to play more games this season(theoretically)

I like Uggla hitting 4th. when the Marlins moved him to 4th. last season he went on a “tear”…. and when Uggla is on a “tear”…. hold ON!
I also think that when Uggla and Freeman begin to hit for average the Braves offense will be awesome!
Lets just hope that it is sooner than later.

That was terrible luck. That 2 SB that we could have had this year(Ugglas slide over the bag mishap).

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