Time to get out the red marker — this won’t be pretty.
We’ll start with the good:
Freddie (A-) Just keeps getting better. His power numbers remain steady and he’s on pace for a career-best 85 walks. Against lefties, Freddie’s batting .300 with a .945 OPS.
Evan Gattis (A-) He continues to exceed expectations, reminding me of Bob Horner with that sweet short stroke. Dollar for dollar the best offensive catcher in baseball — just compare his numbers to Brian McCann (.218 BA, .279 OBP), who the Yankees are paying $85 million.
Justin Upton (B) Half the time he’s Miguel Cabrera. The other half he’s his brother. You can’t complain about an .847 OPS in the middle of the order, though he’s on pace to strike out a career-worst 180 times.
Tommy LaStella (B) He endured a mild slump but has rebounded to flash gap power and a knack for coming through in the clutch. The Braves would be screwed without him.
Jason Heyward (C+) A poor man’s Andruw Jones: Great defensively (though this is a grade for offensive performance only) and productive at the plate, though not what he was projected to be. I thought we were looking at the next Dave Parker, but his.379 slugging percentage suggests Omar Moreno. He’s also taken a step back against lefties, against whom he’s batting an Uggla-esque .138. He hit. 249 vs. southpaws as a rookie. He does have one of the few respectable OBP’s on the team (.344).
Chris Johnson (C) It’s rare to see a guy hitting .281 with an OBP under .300 (.299), but that’s what happens when you walk, on average, once every 11.5 games. Conversely, he’s averaging exactly one strikeout a game. His power numbers have also taken a dive; CJ is on pace for just 6 homers and 47 RBI.
Andrelton (C) No surname necessary, but he could use a decent hitting coach. His power numbers are down, which is not necessarily a bad thing since he appears to try and hit the long ball too much. But his BA is right where it was a year ago.
B.J. (D) He got on base three times last night (once on an error, regardless of what the official scorer ruled), but he’s been no better atop the order than he was anywhere else. No one screams #8 hitter more than B.J., To be fair, he’s been better than he was a year ago — he’s two homers and two RBI away from matching his 2013 totals and has stolen as many bases (12).
No need to pile on Uggla, so we’ll just give him an “F” and be done with it. No one Brave merits better than a “D,”
Greg Walker/Scott Fletcher (F) They either don’t know what they’re doing or don’t know how to communicate because, with few exceptions, hitters seem to regress when they get to Atlanta. And I can’t think of any player whom they’ve “fixed.” Well past time for a change.
Roger McDowell (A) I’m probably giving him too much credit and our hitting coaches too much blame, but Walker/Fletcher are the Bizarro McDowell. Pitchers as a rule improve when they get to Atlanta, and this staff — robbed of two starters – has no business ranking 3rd in NL ERA and 2nd in strikeouts.
Fredi (B) I’m surprised by that grade, too, in light of his irrational line-up constructions. But FW has given him few options as far as that goes. And he’s done a good job managing a sputtering bullpen. Doesn’t seem to be bunting as much, either — probably because no one on this team knows how.
FW (C) He signed B.J., extended Uggla and hired Walker. Every GM makes mistakes, but Wren seems to have a hard time acknowedging his. Keeping Uggla on the roster hurts the team, plain and simple. And the CJ extension will never make sense. On the flip side, he rebuilt the rotation on the fly and locked up Freddie, Teheran, Kimbrel and Simmons. No-brainers, but he got it done.