|Blowing up in the 8 spot!|
I should have a direct line to Fredi Gonzalez's office. Seriously. A few weeks ago, when the rest of Braves Nation was ready to kick Nate to the curb, I asked Fredi to move him down in the lineup and watch him produce. And that he has. Since moving to the 8 spot in the lineup here are McLouth's numbers:
.323 BA .443 OBP 2 HR 14 Walks/12 Strikeouts
The one thing that Joe Bravesfan and I agreed on was the fact that Heyward, not McLouth should have been hitting second in the lineup.
The most impressive statistic for me here is the .443 on-base percentage, which is the penultimate goal of a 8th place hitter. Eighth place hitters are often pitched around in the National League because teams would rather face the pitcher, so it's not like McLouth is going to see tons of fastballs to hit. This was the rationale behind his starting the season in the #2 spot, to see more hittable pitches to help him break out of his year plus long slump.
Moving to #8 has forced McLouth to be more selective at the plate, and has actually caused him to relax and see pitches better, instead of trying to drive the first fastball in the neighborhood of the plate. The fact that he has more walks than strikeouts is amazing, since his high strikeout totals and low OBP have been his bugaboo throughout his career, even in Pittsburgh.
As a result of his new-found patience at the plate, he is performing another of his jobs as an 8 place hitter. Turn the lineup over. His ability to get on base is allowing the Braves to clear the pitcher's spot in the lineup in many innings, allowing them to start the next inning at the top of the lineup. Also, Braves pitchers are able to bunt McLouth into scoring position, instead of aimlessly hacking away with no one on base(Braves pitchers now don't hit quite like the old ones did!).
I know this is only a 3 week sample space for McLouth in the 8 spot, but it looks promising for the rest of the season. Do you still hate Nate? If you want the Braves to make the playoffs, you shouldn't!