• Exclusives

    Braves vs Nats: Whose lineup is stronger? (updated)

    Recently, we posted a head-to-head comparison of the Braves’ and Nats’ probable lineups, featuring statistical projections from Bill James. Missing from that post, we later felt, was comparison of the 2012 performances of each member of the respective lineups. With that in mind, here is that comparison.

    2012 performance of current Braves lineup:

      AB AVG OBP HR RBI 2B/3B SB OPS
    Simmons 166 .289 .335 3 19 10 1 .751
    Heyward 587 .269 .335 27 82 36 21 .814
    J.Upton 554 .280 .355 17 63 28 18 .785
    Freeman 540 .259 .340 23 94 35 2 .796
    B.Upton 573 .246 .298 28 78 32 31 .752
    McCann 439 .230 .300 20 67 14 3 .698
    Uggla 523 .220 .348 19 78 29 4 .732
    **Fransisco/Johnson 680 .268 .312 24 108 44 6 .759

    2012 performance of current Nationals lineup:

      AB AVG OBP HR RBI 2B/3B SB OPS
    Span 516 .283 .342 4 41 42 17 .737
    Harper 533 .270 .340 22 59 35 18 .817
    Zimmerman 578 .282 .346 25 95 37 5 .824
    LaRoche 571 .271 .343 33 100 36 1 .853
    Werth 300 .300 .387 5 31 24 8 .827
    Desmond 513 .292 .335 25 73 35 21 .846
    Espinosa 594 .247 .315 17 56 39 20 .717
    Suzuki/Ramos 491 .240 .288 9 53 22 2 .630

    For the Nationals, Jayson Werth missed quite a bit of time last year due to injury. He’ll be seeking to regain his power stroke this season.

    In the Atlanta lineup, Freddie Freeman (vision/hand), Justin Upton (thumb) and Brian McCann (shoulder) were all slowed to varying degrees by their respective ailments last year. They’ll look to stay healthy this season, while Dan Uggla hopes to rebound from career-worst numbers.

    Getting more out of Werth will be key for the Nats. For the Braves, the two biggest variables may be a healthy McCann and a rebound performance from Dan Uggla.


    And Here again is what James predicts for the Braves lineup this season:

      AVG OBP HR RBI 2B/3B SB OPS
    Simmons .289 .351 10 62 31 18 .767
    Heyward .272 .360 26 92 37 20 .843
    J.Upton .289 .372 25 86 39 19 .864
    Freeman .282 .358 24 85 37 3 .839
    B.Upton .248 .329 23 75 37 35 .765
    McCann .266 .347 23 58 29 3 .814
    Uggla .238 .341 28 92 33 3 .780
    **Fransisco/Johnson .276 .316 23 78 39 6 .787
    AVERAGE .270 .347 23 79 35 13 .807
    TOTAL .270 .347 182 628 282 106 .807

    **Juan Fransisco and Chris Johnson’s projected stats each projected to 290 at-bats, and added together (assuming 50/50 playing time). 

    Here is what he projects for the National’s lineup: 

      AVG OBP HR RBI 2B/3B SB OPS
    Span .281 .350 5 50 32 19 .729
    Harper .272 .347 24 65 40 20 .823
    Zimmerman .287 .359 25 93 41 4 .845
    LaRoche .256 .334 26 87 35 1 .805
    Werth .267 .367 20 74 34 14 .807
    Desmond .279 .326 18 68 36 22 .771
    Espinosa .279 .327 21 66 36 22 .771
    **Suzuki/Ramos .258 .315 15 69 33 2 .708
    AVERAGE .272 .341 19 72 36 13 .782
    TOTAL .272 .341 154 572 287 104 .782

    **Wilson Ramos’ and Kurt Suzuki’s projected stats each projected to 290 at-bats, and added together (assuming 50/50 playing time). 

    Of course there are numbers here with which both Braves and Nats fans will take exception. Certainly, it seems to me, that if McCann hits 23 homeruns batting either 4th or 6th, it’s almost inconceivable that he’ll drive in as few as 58 runs. But again, overall, these are well reasoned projections. 

    While the National’s lineup is strong, I think it’s apparent that, on paper, the Braves batting order is a little more potent. What’s more, Atlanta’s lineup has more upside. That is to say, it has greater potential to exceed expectations.

    Justin Upton will add  RH presence to the middle of the Braves’ order.

    We know, given health, that it is reasonable to expect 50 homers between Heyward and Freeman. But these guys are still quite young, 23 to be exact, and I don’t know of anyone who thinks we’ve seen the best they have to offer. Likewise, many feel Justin Upton, 25, has not yet realized his potential, despite finishing 4th in MVP balloting just the year before last. Heyward, Freeman and Justin Upton all have superstar potential. While many are predicting roughly 25 homers from each, would it really surprise you if any of the three turned in a breakout season this year?

    The Nationals have their own rising star in the person of Bryce Harper. Immensely talented and already quite good, his best years are undoubtedly ahead of him, and nothing he does this year should surprise anyone.

    But my point is this: The Braves have three hitters, 25 years of age or younger, with superstar potential. The Nationals have one.

    Please don’t interpret this as disrespect toward the Nat’s lineup. It’s quite good, and they should score plenty of runs to support their exceptional pitching. However, the Braves have the edge in this category.

    Next, we’ll compare the bullpens of the top two teams in the East. Stay tuned.