• Exclusives

    2012 Braves Lineup Projections

    By Kent Covington

    Lineup Projections — Pre-spring edition

    Braves will benefit from a full year of CF Michael Bourn on the basepaths.

    With respect to Christmas lovers everywhere, baseball fans understand that this is in fact the most wonderful time of the year. Pitchers and catchers have officially reported to the Braves spring training complex at Disney’s Wide world of Sports in Orlando (Lake Buena Vista, to be exact). And while position players are not yet due in camp, most have arrived early, anxious to gear up for a promising ’12 season.

    As we prepare for Grapefruit League action, we thought now would be a good time to post our pre-spring 2012 lineup projections.  We’ll post our official ’12 projections later in the spring, when we’ve had a chance to see how everyone looks and how the batting order is likely to shape up. But as of now, here are our best guesses.

    NOTE: The following projections assume relatively healthy seasons.

    Bourn .278 2 60 39 .343 58
    Heyward .280 24 80 33 .370 11
    Chipper .277 17 74 33 .368 3
    McCann .285 24 85 32 .361 4
    Uggla .268 35 102 31 .351 3
    Freeman .285 23 91 37 .350 3
    Prado .294 15 83 36 .339 5
    Pastornicky .260 4 50 21 .322 24
    TOTAL .278 143 625 262 .351 111

    We’re slightly more optimistic about the power numbers of players like Martin Prado, Jason Heyward and Freddie Freeman than are many other prognosticators. Many of the projections I’ve seen so far predict 2 or 3 fewer HR’s for each of those three players than what we’ve projected here.

    Braves OF Martin Prado is looking to rebound from a disappointing '12 season.

    Prado, in our view, has a bit more pop than most give him credit for. He might have hit 20 HR’s in 2010, if not for late season ailments.

    Freeman is not the 15 HR—and—lots of doubles type of first baseman many took him for upon his arrival in the big leagues. I spoke with Braves minor league broadcasters prior to last season who told me of mammoth shots off Freeman’s bat and assured me we could expect 20+ homeruns from Freddie. He’s a big strong kid with power to all fields. In truth, I think 23 HR may be a bit conservative.

    As for Heyward, if he bounces back—and most analysts predict that he will—I find it difficult to limit him to 20 or 21 homers. When he’s right, he just hits the ball so hard that I’ve got to place his homerun total at least somewhere in the mid-20’s range.

    We expect the Braves lineup to rebound from its epic underachievement in ’11 to finish top-5 in the National League in runs scored, as they did two seasons ago.  The Braves led the NL in on-base percentage in 2010 and finished 5th in runs. This is a more talented lineup than that ’10 team featured, and even with stingier pitching in the NL East these days, this offense should be expected to get the job done.

    Later in the week, we’ll take a look at how this lineup stacks up against other lineups in the NL East. And we’ll project the 2012 Braves pitching staff in the near future.

    Before you go, check out the Lineup Card on the BravesWire homepage with headlines from over a dozen Braves news/opinion sources.

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