Moving On Up-ton ?

Posted: February 9, 2011 in Bullpen, Outfield, Rays

It’s sure a good thing that B.J. Upton is a terrific defensive center fielder.  Because with his bat, he has never lived up to the 5 tool player he was billed as with the #2 overall pick.  For a player that showed great plate discipline in the minors, it has not traveled with him at the Major League level.

Lets first looked at the power years for  B.J. Upton.  He  slugged at one of his better rates (for him) last season when he was said to be past his injuries. Just like in 2007 , he did have one of his better home run years. But, its came at a cost as he didn’t make good contact. Thus, his batting average took a hit. But, unlike 2007 he wasn’t as lucky when balls went in play. Had he gotten a little luckier, you might have been talking a comeback season. His .304 BABIP really hurt his overall numbers.

B.J. Upton 2010

YEAR HR 2B 3B SB RBI H AVG TOB TB OBP SLG OPS Contact% BABIP
2010 18 38 4 42 62 127 0.237 196 227 0.322 0.424 0.745 69.40% 0.304

Usually, players with good plate discipline take a lot of pitches, whereby they wait for their pitch, and usually have good overall On Base Percentage (OBP) as a result.  Again, Upton’s best year as a pro was in 2007 where he demonstrated his best OBP .

B.J. Upton 2007

YEAR HR 2B 3B SB RBI H AVG TOB TB OBP SLG OPS Contact% BABIP
2007 24 25 1 22 82 142 0.300 211 241 0.386 0.508 0.894 67.51% 0.393

The best you can draw about the years when Upton  had power outages,  is that he was hurt.  In 2008  is when he is said to have been playing hurt, and an 2009 he was recovering from the injured shoulder surgery.  A blip on the development of Upton was that he had that epic 2008 post season. Not sure how that happened. But, it came at a cost as it has maybe taken him to this point.

Its possible those years of defensive shortcomings as a SS may have had long-term negative effects on his psyche.  The bottom line for Upton is that he may be finally to the point where he will reach his potential and put the past behind him. Unfortunately, he is beginning to become an expensive outfielder for the Rays with his 5 million dollar salary.   In Upton, he is an artifact of the Chuck LaMar regime. He may one day be a successful player. But, I’d be shocked if he is a Ray in 2012 and beyond.  If I was picking a team who he might be a fit for would be Dodgers. The Rays may be looking for a closer at some point in the year if the bullpen they have put together falls apart.

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