Jason Heyward was treading water for the Atlanta Braves in late July. That is, until Fredi Gonzalez took a game and put him in the lead-off spot. With B.J. Upton on the disabled list and in need of a lead-off hitter as Andrelton Simmons not getting the job done.
Enter J-Hey, who has brought his average up 27 points to .250. That's a far cry from the .146 average he took into May or the .223 average he had when Gonzalez moved him to lead-off.
"Moving Heyward to leadoff, he's going to be the same hitter when it comes to walks and hits," Gonzalez said on braves.com. "The only thing that doesn't make him the characteristic first batter is that he's 6-foot-5. But everything else is what you would want from a leadoff hitter, and it also was just a bunch of the other stuff for him to move to the first spot.
"One was trying to get Justin going a little bit. The other was to get [Freddie] Freeman to hit in the first inning [batting third, which was Justin Upton's previous spot]. And we were able to move [Andrelton] Simmons from the first hole to the eighth hole, where he can develop as a young player coming up.
"So it was just a combination of different things."
And all of those things came to fruition. Freeman leads the team with 79 RBIs. And Upton has really caught fire, driving in 14 runs in those 17 games and doing exactly what the Braves have needed him to do all along.
Heyward has also driven in 11 runs while working a 1.014 OPS, which is obviously impressive for anyone, let alone a lead-off man.
By the way, the Braves 15-2 since Heyward took over the first spot in the batting order.
Maybe Fredi knows what he's doing after all.
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