Fantasy Baseball: Justin Upton vs. Grady Sizemore
by Matt Trueblood and Nicholas Minnix
on March 18, 2010 @ 15:00:00
Upton's fantasy baseball
Upton batted .300 last year, which Grady Sizemore
has never done and never figures to do. With a lower line-drive rate than
Upton each of the last two seasons and a career 0.86 groundball-to-flyball
ratio, Sizemore's batted-ball success doesn't compare to Upton's. Upton, who
has a career .344 BABIP, has the earmarks of a batting average fiend, especially
if he improves his plate discipline. His speed should help keep his BABIP
(.344 career) high even if he still hits many grounders.
Moving Upton in 2010?
- Sizemore's average was trending severely downward even before last season's
.248 showing, with consecutive marks of .277 and .268. Sure, a lot of that
was caused by a strained left elbow, but that merely added to a downward trend.
Also, Sizemore has hit just .235, with a .393 slugging average, against left-handed
pitchers for his career. Sizemore's flyballs won't allow him to exceed .275
again anytime soon.
- During Cleveland Indians manager Manny
Acta's two and a half years with the Washington
Nationals, they never finished higher than 19th in the majors in steals.
Other potential hindrances: The offseason sports hernia surgery and a groin
injury that hindered Sizemore last season. If he's more hesitant to run -
or if Acta maintains his conservatism - Sizemore's chances could drop. At
22, Upton is a long way from slowing down, and after manager A.J.
Hinch took the helm last May, Upton racked up 22 of his 25 stolen base
attempts for the season. Thirty thefts, once a Sizemore certainty, are now
far more likely for Upton.
- For power upside, Upton is the better option. Sizemore hits home runs on
12.4 percent of flyballs for his career, and after a 14.5 percent figure in
2008, he fell back to 11.2 percent in 2009. Upton, meanwhile, has a career
mark of 15.1 percent and hit bombs on nearly 19 percent of flies last year.
- Playing in Chase Field for half the season, Upton enjoys one of baseball's
best hitting environments. Sizemore, meanwhile, faces one of the worst in
Cleveland's Progressive Field. In terms of lineup help, Upton gets protection
from Adam LaRoche and Mark
Reynolds, and ample RBI opportunities with Stephen
Drew and Conor Jackson ahead of him in
the Arizona order. Sizemore has fewer talented hitters to drive him in and,
batting second, will get fewer chances to drive in runs.
: Risk is everywhere in this debate. Sizemore's groin
could slow him down, or sideline him. Worse, Sizemore may play all season but
bat .250 and ruin the batting average of fantasy teams everywhere. Upton, a free
swinger, could go through an adjustment period while learning not to swing at
junk. But Upton, with his sky-high ceiling, provides the return fantasy owners
look for when they take large risks. Sizemore, though potentially a solid contributor,
no longer has top-five outfielder upside.
Sizemore's fantasy baseball
The only discernable disadvantage to Sizemore, in theory, is his health. However,
he began his normal offseason conditioning program in November and received
full clearance at the beginning of the year. Justin
Upton, 22, is still growing into his frame and is a risk in this department,
too. Oblique strains in consecutive seasons support that.
Sizemore being shafted
- Sizemore played for nearly the entire 2009 season with elbow inflammation
and the aftereffects of a groin pull he suffered in Spring Training. It obviously
affected his performance; attribute any perceived downswings to his willingness
to gut it out. His walk-to-strikeout ratio didn't suffer much, if at all,
a positive sign.
- Upton's youth makes him vulnerable in other ways. He took steps toward maturity
at the dish, but he still has much to learn about gaining leverage. His average
on balls in play will be high, but .360 is difficult to repeat for any hitter.
Like his brother, B.J., Justin has insane ability but must harness it.
- Sizemore was on an upward trend nearly across the board, essentially, before
2009, with obvious growth in power numbers and stolen bases. His batting average
skills were also improving. Timing: His miserable 2009 followed a 2008 in
which he was less fortunate in the BA department than in previous seasons.
History suggests a return to .275, minimum.
- Concerned about Sizemore's drop to the second spot in the order? Perhaps
he trades a few stolen bases for a few RBIs. At any rate, he should roughly
match Upton, who'll bat third, produces in the SB cat. Arizona improved its
lineup, but the club finished about a half run per game behind a supposedly
underwhelming Indians offense in 2009. That's a
: Sizemore, a perennial first-rounder, played for most
of 2009 with a debilitating injury. There appears to be at most a microscopic
reason to doubt that he won't be at full health in 2010. Upton isn't a lock to
play 160 games, either. His supporters point merely to his wealth of talent and
presume it will only get better. Sizemore is 27 and a victim of the what-have-you-done-for-me-lately
syndrome of fantasy players, not washed up.
KFFL staff verdict
About Matt Trueblood
Matt is a journalism student at Loyola University Chicago. The guest contributor is a featured Chicago Cubs columnist on the Bleacher Report as well as a contributor to hotstove.com. Matt envisions himself as both a writer and analyst and strives to deliver pieces that are both well-researched and thought-provoking. He work first appeared on KFFL.com in February 2010.
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