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What can you expect the 2019 Atlanta Braves lineup to look like?

So Nick Markakis is back.  How does his presence make the Braves lineup line up for 2019?

With the latest re-acquisition of Nick Markakis, the Atlanta Braves filled a need in right field. This decision has been been fairly controversial and has stirred up conflicting opinions within the fan base.

First, let’s remind you of the financial details, Markakis will earn $4 million for the 2019 season with a club option in 2020 ($6 million contract; $2 million buy out). Ken Rosenthal was one of the first to report on the deal:

Markakis decided to come back and play for Atlanta making around $7 million less than he did last season and that speaks volumes about the man he is and his willingness to ensure the team has funds to address further needs.

We also know the attitude and leadership Nick will bring to the clubhouse. It’s hard not to want a guy like that on your team; especially when he ensured us that his sons were all involved with the decision.

So Where to Put Him?

After this move by Atlanta, many fans have been curious about what the lineup could look like since it had been previously stated that the Braves would line up Acuña Jr., Donaldson, and Freeman in the top 3 slots.

This leaves a little uncertainty on who would bat clean up as protection for Freddie Freeman. While Markakis isn’t a conventional clean up hitter, he surely made a strong case for himself there in 2018.

The Braves right fielder carried a .296/.367/.436 slash line with 179 hits including 13 HR, 42 doubles and 88 RBIs last season.

Those are fairly reliable numbers for a clean up hitter… even though it comes without the traditional power numbers you might want. Therefore, it wouldn’t be hard to argue that Markakis has earned an opportunity to hit in the same spot in 2019.

After Markakis’s signing was announced yesterday, David O’Brien reported that manager Brian Snitker had mentioned placing Acuña Jr. in the clean up role.

So, if we are to take Snit at his word, the opening day lineup would look something like this:

  1. Inciarte
  2. Donaldson
  3. Freeman
  4. Acuña Jr.
  5. Markakis
  6. Albies
  7. McCann/Flowers
  8. Swanson
  9. Pitcher

Now, this lineup doesn’t look bad at all. I’d be fairly confident taking this roster into opening day.

However, if the Braves have an opportunity to grab an outfielder like Nicholas Castellanos or David Peralta, they should try and do so. It never hurts to have a power bat protecting All-Star first baseman Freddie Freeman.

Alex Anthopoulos has stated, however, that Nick Markakis will be the every day right fielder:

So, it remains to be seen if the Braves will stress finding a trade for a power hitting corner outfielder before the 2019 season begins.

Other Options

Ronald Acuña Jr. has mentioned that he would prefer to remain in the lead off spot and I have to agree. The way Ronald played while leading off was impressive and I’d hate to see him lose at bats.

Furthermore, with the numbers Markakis put up while in the 4-hole last year, placing him behind Acuña Jr. could help ensure that the youngster isn’t just pitched around to get to Markakis.

If I were to propose what I think the lineup should look like on opening day it would be something like this:

  1. Acuña Jr.
  2. Inciarte
  3. Freeman
  4. Donaldson
  5. Markakis
  6. Albies
  7. McCann/Flowers
  8. Swanson
  9. Pitcher

This lineup is a based on stats from last season and career numbers in certain slots. Inciarte’s slash line while batting second in 2018 was .326/.402/.472 in 23 games while batting in the 2-hole.

While I understand this is a small sample size, it could be worth exploring as Ender carries a .285 career average in this spot. It is also worth noting he could bat sixth as he has similar career numbers in that slot as well (.284/.346/.386).

Speaking of the six spot, Ozzie Albies had similar success while batting second last year. In Albies’ short career, he carries a .289 average while batting second. If he can get back to the form he was in the first couple months of the 2018 season, you could easily flip he and Ender Inciarte in the lineup.

Donaldson has a small sample size when it comes to batting clean up but his numbers aren’t disappointing. He has a .290 career average with 9 HR and 23 RBIs when placed in the clean up spot.

If you follow Donaldson with Markakis, you’d have a good opportunity there as well. In his career, Markakis has hit .289/.364/.414 while batting fifth. If those numbers were to hold true, Atlanta could be looking at a very potent offense with the first 6 batters alone.

I’ll post that potential lineup below so you can get an idea of what it would be.

  1. Acuña Jr.
  2. Albies
  3. Freeman
  4. Donaldson
  5. Markakis
  6. Inciarte
  7. McCann/Flowers
  8. Swanson
  9. Pitcher

Basically, the Braves have a lot of options to consider when it comes time to turn in the lineup card this Spring. I’m excited to see what this lineup with actually look like when Atlanta is done adding to its 2019 roster.

There are a couple of areas of uncertainty that remain but I am very hopeful that General Manager Alex Anthopoulos will make the right decision when the time comes.

Next: The Farm is Still Producing

What are your thoughts on how the Braves should lineup?? Let me know in the comments below.

 

 

 



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