B.J. Upton signed today with the Atlanta Braves who were in competition with the Philadelphia Phillies for Upton’s services. Upton’s haul is $75.25 million over the next five seasons. He will wear #2. If you check B.J.’s Twitter account, you’ll see that the Braves logo is already there, along with pictures of Upton with Deion Sanders at the Falcons game.
Upton is 28-years-old which puts him right in the sweet spot age-wise for the Braves. His stats have been incredibly consistent over the past three years. Health has been excellent; he’s the only center fielder in the league who has played 144+ games in each of the past five seasons. To the best of our knowledge, he does not bet on NFL football.
B.J. has shown growth in his home run totals from 18, to 23, to 28 over the past three seasons, although his best home run season was his first full year in ’07 when he banged 24 in just 129 games. Upton ended the season with a bang by leading all MLB players with 12 in September and 18 in his final 50 games to pump up what was shaping up to be a poor final season in Tampa Bay. RBI’s topped out at 81 in 2011. He stole 31 bases last year. His 169 strikeouts won’t hurt you in fantasy baseball, but his low batting average will.
Braves Make Right Choice
With Michael Bourn leaving, the Braves needed to find a replacement in center field and Upton fits the bill, especially in a left-handed dominant lineup that includes Brian McCann, Freddie Freeman, and Jason Heyward.
“We were so left-handed dominant over the last number of years,” said Braves GM FrankWren. “Now to be able to better balance our lineup left and right, that was something we felt could really enhance our team.”
B.J. Upton — 2013 Fantasy Baseball Prospectus
Upton moves from one of the most difficult parks to hit a home run in to one that is overall a slightly better hitter’s park. Unfortunately for Upton, we don’t see Turner Field as an advantage over dismal Tropicana Field. This is due to the fact that The Trop is shorter down the left field line by 15 feet and 10 feet shorter in left field. Given that the majority of Upton’s home runs are hit to left field (57 of his career 118 have gone between the left fielder and the foul pole), the ballpark factor won’t help him too much. Upton’s consistent increase in home runs, however, is intriguing, as is his late season surge. Thus, we are projecting B.J. to crack the 30 home run mark in 2013, with an even 30 long balls. That total is with the anticipation that he’ll play 155+ games this year as opposed to the 146 from 2012.
With a still left-heavy lineup, you may think that Upton facing more left-handed opponents would help him, but I doubt that will be the case. Strangely enough, Upton’s average against lefties is actually less than his average against righties in 5 of his last 6 seasons. In fact, in 2009, B.J. hit a dismal .190 against southpaws. His average the past two seasons against lefties is .238. Therefore, it’s difficult to think Upton, how has been stuck in the .237 – .246 range for the past four seasons, will be able to exceed his lifetime .255 average with his new club.
FBD 2012 Projections for B.J. Upton = .250/30/80/85/30
In case you were wondering: B.J. was named after his father who was known as “Bossman.” Hence, “Bossman Jr.”
Special Note — The loss of Upton makes Desmond Jennings the main man in center for the Rays. Jennings’ value as a stolen base man has automatically increased in American League-only fantasy leagues given that Upton and Denard Span (Nationals) have both moved to the National League. Promising Ben Revere takes over the full time job in Minnesota with Span’s departure.