Fantasy Baseball: Justin Upton vs. Grady Sizemore

by Matt Trueblood and Nicholas Minnix on March 18, 2010 @ 15:00:00 PDT


Justin Upton, OF, Arizona Diamondbacks

Matt Trueblood

Upton's fantasy baseball player profile

  • Arizona Diamondbacks OF Justin Upton
    Moving Upton in 2010?
    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.
  • 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.
Closing argument: 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.

Grady Sizemore, OF, Cleveland Indians

Nicholas Minnix

Sizemore's fantasy baseball player profile

  • Cleveland Indians OF Grady Sizemore
    Sizemore being shafted
    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 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 wash.
Closing argument: 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

Analyst Justin Upton Grady Sizemore
Nicholas Minnix   X
Tim Heaney   X
Bryce McRae   X
Cory J. Bonini X  
Keith Hernandez   X
Eric McClung X  
Matt Trueblood X  

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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 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 in February 2010.

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