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Brave new fantasy baseball world for B.J. Upton?
By Tim Heaney
The former Tampa Bay Rays enigma seems to be stabilizing his statistical identity crisis. (See a telling summary in Erik Hahmann's second Fangraphs paragraph). Attitude and effort questions, however, have clouded that consolidation.
Joe Maddon and Fredi Gonzalez seem to have different styles in managerial personality and ability. There's probably some difference in clubhouse attitude beyond the Rays' frat-like activities and the Braves' seemingly antics-diminished dugout. Will they allow B.J. to be B.J., sometimes-lackadaisical method and all? Or will his new culture force him to act more like Melvin Emmanuel?
It's more rational for fantasy analysts to move past an overrated attribute over which we have no control. Upton's on-field output should, regardless of environment, trend toward his last three seasons and not his power-starved 2008-2009 window.
Expect Turner Field to mirror Tropicana Field's influence. Sure, Upton took advantage of the Rays' short left field porch (315 feet), but the new 335-foot distance he faces wasn't a problem last year. His home-road splits haven't shaded in one dynamic direction when it comes to his thump.
That, plus the handedness balance that Upton provides, may help reduce the statistically negative ballpark factor Turner Field exudes. A down year from Dan Uggla and the fact that Martin Prado's game isn't dinger-centered mean we should now take with a grain of salt this stadium's stigma for righty sticks.
Upton's swing percentages showcased a hacker that might've been motivated by his contract year. Might've. Let's not make that the end-all, OK? He's in position to keep on clubbing, though. Atlanta finished second (behind Tampa Bay, ironically) in hitter walks last year, but in joining Dan Uggla and Jason Heyward, Upton will reside in a lineup that has many breezy spots.
For fake baseballers playing with normal categories, Bossman Junior's rampant back-to-dugout marches were blissfully concealed by his power boom.
Its catalyst might've come sometime before the final two months of the season, during which he cleared an MLB-leading 19 fences and posted monthly infield-fly percentages of 0.0 in August and 4.5 in September. Sadly, that outlandish loft efficiency will correct itself.
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