B.J. Upton a Brave?

B.J. Upton running the bases as a Tampa Bay Devil Ray

Upton stole 31 bases in 37 attempts last season with Tampa Bay

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?

  • http://twitter.com/45Revoloo Jason

    Great observation, but as a Braves fan in Tampa, I can tell you BJ was oddly clutch this year. He was them in September. It was the meaningless games in May vs. teams like Houston where he underperformed.


  • Jim Hart

    That is good to hear Jason, ’cause the Braves are certainly interested in his services. The problem is having both Upton and Uggla in the line-up striking out 160+ times with low OBP…. are there big games in September and October? Do you lose too many April through August to not be in the hunt at the end of the year? Your two big right handed bats would both be low contact, streaky type hitters… can you afford that?

  • Fjaschler

    Why do people keep comparing him to Uggla? Yes, Uggla struck out a lot but he also walked a ton so his OBP, .348, was far better than Upton’s, .298. Uggla’s worst in recent history was in 2011, .311, when he hit 36 homers.

    • http://atlantabullpen.com/ Jim Hart

      I compared Upton to Uggla in that neither one is good at putting the
      ball in play. You can get away with having one player in the middle of
      the line-up like that but the question is… can you get away with two?

      • Fjaschler

        With the rumored asking price for Upton I don’t even want to see if they can or not. It seems like his asked for salary is based on potential more than output, much like his ranking on free agent trackers. He has all the tools, but at 28 he’s yet to put them all together. If Greg Walker could reign him in and get him to walk more so he can utilize his speed more he’d be worth it I think, but that’s a lot of money to pay for a project.

        • http://atlantabullpen.com/ Jim Hart

          Where do you bat him in the order? He’s not a lead-off or #2 guy ’cause he doesn’t get on base enough and he doesn’t hit enough or make enough contact to bat in the middle of the line-up. So how can you pay him all that money and have him bat 6th or 7th?

          • Fjaschler

            That also depends heavily on who we get to play left. Right now it’s looking like….
            1. Simmons 2. Prado 3. JayHey 4. Freddie Freeman (Uggla if his power is back) 5. Brian McCann 6. Upton (or leftfielder) 7. Uggla 8. (who knows) 9. pitcher
            I could see them trying to use him closer to the middle of the order just to further break up the left handed bats when we face left handers. Well, hopefully we’ll find out this week if he’s signing with the Braves or not. At least it’s not Fowler, the man isn’t nearly as good away from Coors, and is a liability in center. I wouldn’t really mind Upton if he was cheaper but it really seems like he’s going to be overpaid.

          • http://atlantabullpen.com/ Jim Hart

            Would like to see Simmons bat ninth for a while until he establishes himself more. Also, Fredi likes to go left/right/left… that’s gonna be hard to do with the pieces he has this year. Overall, the lineup as it is right now looks disjointed to me unless they can get a lefty to play left field that can lead off.