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:
2012 performance of current Nationals lineup:
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.
**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:
**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.
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.