The Atlanta Braves had free agent center fielder, B.J. Upton, at Turner Field this past week, and they are reportedly very interested in his services.
But would Upton be a good fit?
Upton brings an impressive skill package, having hit 28 homers last season, with 31 steals in 37 attempts. He’s also a very adept center fielder, committing only 3 errors last season, while logging 10 assists.
The concern with Upton is that his OBP the past four seasons has been only .313, .322, .331 and .298. He’s also struck out over 160 times in each of the past three seasons. In other words, he is Dan Uggla playing center field.
The Braves hitters were seventh in the major leagues last season in strikeouts. Upton could put them in position to challenge for the most strikeouts in the majors.
How many times last season did the Braves have a rally going, only to have it end with a strikeout? How many times did they have a runner on third with less than two outs, and have a strikeout? I don’t have the stats in front of me, but having attended or watched nearly every Braves game last season… it happened way too often.
Personally I’d like to see the Braves have a shift in philosophy on the free agents they acquire. I’d like to see them go after players who make the opposing pitchers work.. i.e., who don’t swing at too many bad pitches. I’d like to see them acquire contact hitters who are clutch with men on base. The type players who come up big in September and October, when the big time games are on the line.
As a reporter and as a Braves fan, over the years I’ve seen too many big-buck slugger types who are great on Tuesday nights in May against the Houston Astros. But who do nothing more than fan the air late in the season, with men on base, and the game on the line, against a tough pitcher. Players who come up small when it is money time.
Finishing seventh in the majors last season in strikeouts is graphic illustration that the Braves already have enough players who have trouble making contact. Lets hope that Frank Wren does not add any more.
What are your thoughts on the Braves potentially signing B.J. Upton?