Key Stats: B.J. Upton was more on top of the world than Kevin Garnett after the Celtics won the championship. As a 23 year old he had a .300 batting average with 80+ RBI/runs and 20+ steals and home runs. He was eligible at second base, and with 30/30 potential it seemed that he would be a solid bet to one day be the top pick in a fantasy draft.
In 2008 he fell off pretty much across the board, but it wasn’t very noticeable for fantasy players because he finished with 44 steals. His ranking went from 54th to 82nd. Last year though, Upton went down again and it cost him his spot in the order. His OBP was down 70 points to .313 and the OPS was below .700. He stole more than 40 again, but failed to meet expectations on all of his other numbers. He went somewhere in the top 20 in most preseason drafts, and this year despite a radical drop off in consecutive years he’s still in the top 60 among the early rankings.
Skeptics Say: Too easy. He strikes out too much and hit 10% more fly balls last year than he had in 2008. For one of the best athletes in the game he should be putting more emphasis on getting on base than swinging for the fences.
Peer Comparison: At first glance Michael Bourn is the kind of player that should be drafted well after Upton comes off the board because he hasn’t been around in fantasy circles as long and he doesn’t bring the 5 category potential that Upton offers. Then again, Bourn had 18 more steals than Upton last year and Upton only out-homered Bourn by 8. Given that steals is much more of a commodity, Bourn has a cushion on Upton even if Upton improves and Bourn regresses.
And in continued hatred of all things B.J. Upton, I’ll just add that I have nothing against the Upton family. CBS has brother Justin Upton ranked 10th while brother B.J. is 11th. Justin was a better prospect than B.J. was and going by last season a much better all-around contributer.
B.J. 79 R, 11 HR, 55 RBI, .241 AVG, .686 OPS
Justin 84 R, 26 HR, 86 RBI, .300 AVG, .899 OPS
How are these guys back to back in the rankings?
Lineup Outlook: Upton had 114 strikeouts and 45 walks hitting leadoff last year. Jason Bartlett had 40 strikeouts and 32 walks in the leadoff spot. Upton’s OBP overall hitting first was .316 while Bartlett’s was .398. Let’s assume that Upton is granted another opportunity to hit leadoff next year. That leash will be even shorter than Conan O’Brien’s leash as The Tonight Show host.
Projection: There’s no way I’m taking this guy any lower than pick number 79 in the draft. Even if my team has nobody who can steal a base at that point in the draft.
81 R 15 HR 64 RBI 39 SB .267 AVG .740 OPS
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