For now, Gonzalez likes Heyward in bottom half of order

BOSTON – The Braves’ best hitter in June bats seventh most of the time, and manager Fredi Gonzalez has no imminent plans to move Jason Heyward higher in the order.

“He’s been fine [where he is], and you kind of want to split up the left-handers,” Gonzalez said before Friday’s series opener against the Boston Red Sox. “But he’s done fine there. Hitting sixth, seventh, fifth the other day against a right-hander.”

Heyward hit .351 with 10 extra-base hits (four home runs) and a 1.067 on-base-plus-slugging percentage in 16 June games before Friday, with 11 strikeouts in 57 at-bats. In May he hit .200 with nine extra-base hits, a .704 OPS and 30 strikeouts in 95 at-bats.

“It’s seeing pitches, seeing enough pitches,” Heyward said of his increased production. “This is my first season playing through May and June [healthy], knock on wood. I just try and get better every night, keep making adjustments that you have to make.”

After hitting two home runs in Wednesday’s 10-5 win against the Yankees, Heyward was 10-for-25 (.400) with six extra-base hits during a seven-game hitting streak entering the Red Sox series.

“When he’s hitting seventh, that means your lineup is going pretty good,” Gonzalez said, adding that Heyward has never voiced any displeasure or concern over his position in the batting order.

The left-handed hitter has had hot and cold stretches this season and was batting .262 overall with 10 homers, 34 RBIs, a .340 on-base percentage and a .480 slugging percentage. He’s hit mostly sixth or seventh this season, with those two spots accounting for 176 of his 229 at-bats before Friday. He also had 38 at-bats in the fifth spot, eight at No. 3, four at No. 2, and three in the ninth spot.

Heyward had far better statistics batting sixth than in other positions this season, including a .337 average (28-for-83) with 12 extra-base hits (six home runs) and 1.041 OPS.

Batting seventh, he was hitting .226 (21-for-93) with eight extra-base hits and a .727 OPS before Friday, when he was penciled in the seventh spot against Red Sox left-hander Jon Lester. Heyward is 8-for-38 (.211) in the No. 5 spot and his sparse at-bats in the other spots including 1-for-8 at No. 3, 1-for-4 at No. 2, and 1-for-3 in the ninth position.

He homered off left-handed reliever Boone Logan on Wednesday, which the Braves hope was a sign of things to come. So far this season, Heyward has struggled against lefties, batting .207 (18-for-87) with three homers, 28 strikeouts and a .614 OPS. Against righties, he had a .296 average with seven homers, a robust .943 OPS and 33 strikeouts in 142 at-bats.

Gonzalez said he likes the aggressiveness Heyward has shown, along with his work ethic and willingness to make changes after a difficult second major league season in 2011.

“The biggest thing I’ve seen from last year to this year is, he gets in these 3-and-1 counts and 2-and-0 counts, he’s looking to let it go [swing away],” Gonzalez said. “.I’m thrilled and happy to see him play the way he’s played. The only time he’s out of the lineup is when we give him a day off, when we face a tough left-hander or something we give him a breather. Other than that, he’s been in there.”

26 comments Add your comment

Runner-

June 22nd, 2012
7:38 pm

This streak won’t last long, so either move him now or not at all, stupid manager decisions is what ruins this team’s potential

Luke M.

June 22nd, 2012
7:38 pm

But you gotta play the hot hand …

NickB

June 22nd, 2012
7:39 pm

Fredi is an idiot, and apparently proud of it…..

VP

June 22nd, 2012
7:41 pm

Heyward needs to keep coming up big, to bail out the pitching staff.

Yogi Berra

June 22nd, 2012
7:47 pm

Glad for J-Hey but agree Fredi is a idiot.

davidinvirginia

June 22nd, 2012
7:49 pm

Apparently Fredi is unhappy that not everyone thinks he’s an idiot yet and is determined to win them over. Good grief…there are patches of mold in my basement with higher IQs.

JT Grace

June 22nd, 2012
7:52 pm

Fredi is such a nitwit. Freeman has been horrible most of this season yet he has no problem hitting him anywhere from 3rd to 5th. Note to Freddie: Jason Heyward is a much better hitter than Freddie Freeman. Check the stats.

TNBravesFan

June 22nd, 2012
7:56 pm

I love how he notices Jason doing better against lefties and he hopes it’ll continue, yet he still talks about benching him against tough lefties. How’s he supposed to get better if he doesn’t get the opportunities?? This man baffles logic and basic common sense.

Busch Leaguer

June 22nd, 2012
8:07 pm

Still think Fredo’s best line-up was with Chipper in the 2 slot and McCann batting after Uggla. Braves are not paying Dan the big bucks to lead the team in walks.The 5th spot in the order has been so weak everybody can pitch around Uggla.Or at least move Dan to the 3spot and bat McCann or Prado after him,so maybe he will get a pitch to hit.

bob didier

June 22nd, 2012
8:15 pm

Pitching around Uggla. Come on. He is still on target for about 180 K’s. Doesn’t seem they are pitching around him, to me. .248 avg. That is a real AS.

bob didier

June 22nd, 2012
8:17 pm

Here’s predicting, or hoping, or praying that JJ gives us 6 good innings tonight and a quality start. We need it and he needs it.

Yogi Berra

June 22nd, 2012
8:17 pm

Rain rain go away JJ READY TO PLAY…

Busch Leaguer

June 22nd, 2012
8:49 pm

Uggla still has an OBP of 370 almost 100 points higher than last year. At his current rates he will walk 120 times and strike out 160.Over one third of his at bats will result in the ball not being put in play.And he is still on a pace to drive in over 100 runs.I guess it helps to have Bourne and Prado both batting over .300.

Hank the Tank

June 22nd, 2012
8:50 pm

Just another fine example of Freddy running this team into ground. It makes no sense to keep our hottest hitter in an area of the lineup where he can be the least productive. Instead, Freddy puts out of shape and on the decline McCann in the three hole. How much more of this crap do we have to indure?

thegreatsowhat

June 22nd, 2012
9:00 pm

Jason should NEVER be batting below fifth. Period.

thegreatsowhat

June 22nd, 2012
9:01 pm

His speed and ability to get on base is essentially wasted in the seven hole… that’s not SABER stuff either Fredi, just common sense.

bob didier

June 22nd, 2012
11:33 pm

bob didier

June 22nd, 2012
8:17 pm
Here’s predicting, or hoping, or praying that JJ gives us 6 good innings tonight and a quality start. We need it and he needs it.

Link Report this comment

Don’t know whether I was predicting, hoping, or praying, but anyway, JJ got it done. Now, at least, Wren doesn’t have to give away the farm. Other teams now won’t think Braves have to make a move. A deal for equal benefit is more likely if a deal is made. Wren has made a lot of bad deals in the past. Hopefully, he won’t rush into anything.

bruce

June 22nd, 2012
11:45 pm

keep it rolling Jason!

Few_Proud_DaBraves

June 22nd, 2012
11:59 pm

Don’t know whether I was predicting, hoping, or praying, but anyway, JJ got it done. Now, at least, Wren doesn’t have to give away the farm. Other teams now won’t think Braves have to make a move. A deal for equal benefit is more likely if a deal is made. Wren has made a lot of bad deals in the past. Hopefully, he won’t rush into anything.

Really? Wren traded Charlie Morton and pieces for Nate McLouth. Morton has been injured and Wren couldnt have forseen the complete decline of McLouth. He then traded Mike Dunn and Omar infante, (a bullpen arm and a back-up infielder) for Dan Uggla. Then he traded Schafer for Bourn. again another all star player. Then this year he traded JJ Hover for Juan Francisco. He took a chance but no one is excatly crying over Hover. So to review thats 3 all star players aquired for players either blocked or with upside thats quite a ways off. No sure what bad deals you and other fans have reffering too.

JNick

June 23rd, 2012
12:39 am

No, Fredi, YOU want to split up the lefties and YOU insist on batting McCann 3rd, when his .729 OPS suggests he should be hitting 7th or 8th.

dogman

June 23rd, 2012
7:53 am

The deal that sent all the good players to Texas for Tex is rated as the worse lopsided deal I have ever heard of but that deal was not made by Wren. John S made that dumb deal. Harrison, Andrus, Feliz, and Salty all have done great and the braves have nothing to show for the deal. That deal still stinks! I don’t think Wren has really done that bad in his deals but again I hope he don’t give up the farm for a one year rental because if the braves get a good player it is a sure bet he won’t stay with the braves when he hits free agency because the braves are not going to spend any money to keep this team together once the youngsters hit free agency they will be gone.

Bobby Cox

June 23rd, 2012
1:24 pm

Being a true idiot myself, I can assure you that Fredi is definitely an idiot.

Joe

June 23rd, 2012
3:55 pm

If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Heyward is a headcase. He can be thrown off of his game quite easily. Just leave him there for a while and let him settle. Throwing extra variables into the mix will only tempt him to change something about his current approach.

MD Braves fan

June 23rd, 2012
4:56 pm

Frediot! #firefredi

Egr1234

June 23rd, 2012
8:09 pm

Fire Freddie put TP as manager

a fan

June 24th, 2012
9:10 am

Braves have one 2of 3 from the Yanks, will take the series from the Bosox,have the best road record in the league and you call Fredi an idiot, look in the mirror.
Oh and the scum who called Bobby Cox a virus on the other blog is below contempt.

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