Posted: 12:38 pm Friday, January 17th, 2014

Will B.J. Upton lead the league in rebounding? 

By Mark Bradley

B.J. Upton

B.J. Upton after one of his 151 strikeouts. (Curtis Compton/AJC)

You might recall Dan Szymborski, with whom we spoke in October on the matter of Brian McCann’s future worth. Szymborski, who works for ESPN, is the man to call on the matter of projecting a baseball player’s season. His ZiPS system is considered an industry standard, and not just among the sabermetric set — big-league teams employ similar algorithms. Which bring us — rough segue here — to B.J. Upton of your Atlanta Braves.

Szymborski thinks the elder Upton brother will be less awful in 2014 than in 2013. (Granted, it would be impossible to be more awful.) He believes B.J. Upton will be something approximating an average big-league player, which sounds like thin gruel until we recall that Upton was among the absolute worst players in the majors last season.

Writing for ESPN Insider, here’s Szymborski:

This season will be better than last, but just how much will Upton improve? The good news is that Upton remains a talented player, is still in his 20s and has a long history of being able to hit major league pitching. He’s not going to hit for a high batting average — even in his better seasons Upton carried a batting average in the .240 range — but he’ll hit for enough power and continue to play solid defense in center, enough to return him to the ranks of a league-average player. After a minus-1.8 WAR season, simply putting up a 2-WAR season represents a four-win swing from last year.

Szymborski’s ZiPS system has Upton hitting .231 with 19 home runs and 57 RBIs. That still wouldn’t constitute $75 million worth of production, but it would beat the heck out of the .184, 9 and 26 of last season.

For the record, Szymborski puts Upton atop his list of six bounceback candidates for 2014. The second name on it? Albert Pujols.

Coming in Sunday’s AJC: Why the Braves’ offseason hasn’t been as bad as all that.

37 comments
-sting-
-sting-

mark, so what did he predict for 2013 seems like a reasonable question. it would be interesting to look at how he looked ar all of wren's flawed manuevers and any successes in that light. with a trim budget he cant continue to make those types of mistakes.

ColdSplash
ColdSplash

Wow. You actually think this organizations goal is to win a World Series ? What have you been smoking and where have you been hiding the last decade? This teams goals is for Liberty media to not lose money and for front office executives to remain in their cushy jobs by selling enough tickets and tv advertising from continuing to convince idiots like you that 1. They actually want to win a WS, and 2. They even have a chance. Until this team is sold by current ownership....they'll not ever win a first round playoff series. (Because that isn't their goal).

legionaire
legionaire

The Braves have the pitching coach , his brother, & Pendleton to work with Upton until spring training Good luck with group instruction,  It would be a surprise if he is not just as bad this season as last. He has bad fundamentals that  he probably  is not capable of correcting. Szymborski's system probably gave Upton the benefit of not having to face all new pitchers this season. Other than that I just don't see what will change.

Jazzpman
Jazzpman

Well somebody tell me we need Frank Wren to be successful ?  Personally I think he has hurt this team tremendously.


Quackmeyer
Quackmeyer

Ficklefan..........All teams start out the season wanting to win the WS.  The Braves did all they could do to provide players to accomplish that.  They spent ALL the money ownership allowed them.  It is on the scouts and GM to get the right players.  You don't get into professional sports by trying to finish in 2nd place.  Suggesting otherwise is not having a full understanding of the game and its personality.

Ficklefan
Ficklefan

Let's hope this guy is right.  Did he include Uggla in his analysis?  If both Upton and Uggla just play average next season (like young guys who have recently broken into the majors who are proving themselves and  making in the  $500,000 to $850,000 range, it won't fall so much to others to be bailing the team out. Had it not been for the stellar performance of the bench last season, taking up the slack for these guys, the Braves would not have made the play offs at all. 


If they should happen to really come out of their comas this year (and stop doing the left foot samba before every pitch (Upton), taking first pitch fast balls right down the alley (both of them do that), or  watching big fat third strike pitches sail by (Upton), or swinging at third strike pitches in the dirt one foot in front of or to the side of  the plate (Uggla), the Braves might even have a chance at getting to the play offs and winning them this year. 


The question is simply this. Are the Braves setting their sights on the World Series, or like last year, setting their sights on winning the NL East?  And if it is the World Series, will office and field management be determined to have their best 9 guys on the field for every out, for every inning - regardless of salary, star power, politics, etc. Last year, for too many times to mention, the best 9 guys were not out on the field, many times for games that could have been won, and many times with Upton and Uggla coming up to strike out when the Braves still had a chance to win. If that happens again, they may not even win the NL East. 

ToeMeetsLeather
ToeMeetsLeather

I think we would fair better putting Stevie Wonder at lead-off. At least Stevie puts the ball in play and runs hard.

Quackmeyer
Quackmeyer

unfairlybanned.......though your idea is interesting, baseball has no provision for trading draft choices for player contracts.

TreeRollins
TreeRollins

This guy is a complete loss to the team. The sooner they realize it and dump him (pay him off) the sooner the team can get focused on a more positive direction. This is Frank Wren's worst move of all time - yes even worse than Uggla! At least Uggla tries to get better (and can't).

I'm waiting for the day we see the headline BJ and Otis Nixon Found Smoking Doobie's at a Topless Bar in Downtown Atlanta!

reckingball
reckingball

Sighing BJ Upton was a mistake, that is really hard to understand, why it was made.  

cloudodust
cloudodust

If the Braves are he11 bent on tossing money out the window, have them give me  call

patriotdog
patriotdog

This article reminds me of the blogs that T Moore used to write every spring...Francouer looks like he's ready to turn the corner....Gant spent the winter learning to use all fields with the bat.....Chuck James is a changed pitcher.....Wohlers ready to bounce back....None of those panned out, either.

patriotdog
patriotdog

I don't get the Fredi haters. He's given a team with three automatic outs, including the pitcher, loses Mac, Heyward, Freddie, Hudson, Pena, Venters, OFlaherty all for long stretches, if not the entire season, still puts up a 96 win year, wins the division, all with an underachieving yet mandated to play everyday CF and 2B and still the morons hate him.

Go buy a Mets hat, and become a fan of that bunch, or the Nats...I'll take Fredi and 89,91 and 96 wins in his first three years anytime.

And why is there no one showing any interest in buying the team? Maybe it's the TV contract, I dunno.

LowcountryBulldawg
LowcountryBulldawg

Nick Esasky and Jon Koncak cant believe the size of the contract this scrub got.

unfairlybannedforlife
unfairlybannedforlife

Upton was a HUGE mistake.  No matter what, he'll always be a mistake.  .240 hitters are not ever worth $70mill - even spread over 20 years.

Bundle him with Uggla and let the Mets have the both of them for draft choices.

FarTrain
FarTrain

Here's the way "Leonard's Losers" the guy who use to predict college football years ago would put it:

1. Wash Gnats   2.  Silly Phillies   3.  CoCo Braves(Cobb County, get it?)   4.  NY Pets   5.  Flo Rida Marlines

FarTrain
FarTrain

You can take a zebra, paint his white stripes black, put him in  a horse race and he will still run like a zebra. That plus the pitiful excuse for a manager in the dugout will put the Braves in 3rd place this year.

Wilbo
Wilbo

B.J. Schmee Jay! Who cares what one player does? The question is can the team rebound from its usual pathetic flop in October. With the current boob in the dugout that answer is an unqualified "NO!"

LADawg
LADawg

.231/19/57 should get him a platoon with Schaffer.

Just getting the bat on the ball with runners on third and less than two outs will double his RBIs.

Most expensive number 8 hitter in baseball. Uggla needs to work with him to get more HBP; anything to get the pitcher up when there are two outs.

RafeHollister
RafeHollister

Upton is going to improve and Obama is going to become more transparent, right! 

Stinger2
Stinger2

At the end of ST the Braves will know if BJ has improved his swing habits. Not before. 

58Supersports
58Supersports

It would be great to see BJ playing  like he suppose too...but Uggla is another matter. Go Braves!

Calel
Calel

I'm not sure we win more than 96 games even if BJ offensively explodes this year. But it sure would be nice to know that the contract is being earned, and it would also be nice to not only get to the playoffs, but AT LEAST make it to the World Series. Our pitching is suspect, but the offense should be exactly what it was last year. 

DawgDadII
DawgDadII

" .231 with 19 home runs and 57 RBIs"

If there were a way to pencil this in right now I'd think the Braves and the fans would take it and forego the huge potential downside.

I believe BJ Upton probably has the talent to rebound a be a productive if wildly inconsistent player. I seriously question the mass between his ears, especially after the SI cover. Did he never watch video of himself at the plate? With only 350 or so at bats did he consider Winter Ball? Why do we not see reports of him chopping down trees with a bat this offseason?

TomGaff
TomGaff

Bradley - "Will BJ lead the league in rebounding"? Mr Bradley really, are you smoking some of that legal weed from Colorado? He will hit maybe .210 and that is being very optimistic of me. The Batboy takes his OF slot half-way thru the season and is more productive. Braves please sign Schafer as a back-up CF and potential starter!

BaseballTopFan
BaseballTopFan

BaseballTopFan(c) wish B.J. Upton the best of luck and success in the upcoming baseball season !!!


He is still a very talented baseball player with a lot of upswing and potential.


The Atlanta Braves will be a much better team with B.J. back on his game.

PGH
PGH

A "league average" player that we're paying $75M.  Um..


DrPhill
DrPhill

Bossman will have four more years of regular play with the braves to work on that average, but I won't be paying money to watch his comeback.

ShaunATL
ShaunATL

If B.J. Upton can bounce back to somewhere around his career norms, his contract isn't unreasonable, based on what teams pay for wins on the open, free agent market. 

seminoleking
seminoleking

b.j. is a good player. i analysed his swing all year. part of his problem is he, believe it or not, is TOO patient at the plate. pitchers routinely busted him with a first pitch strike, thus, he always worked from the hole. it was always first pitch strike, second pitch waay off the plate with a breaking ball, third pitch he either cant catch up to or take it for a close strike. he needs to JUMP all over the first pitch, make them respect his power, keep his stance open, and everything else will fall into place..........

UWreckMeBaby
UWreckMeBaby

Would be interested in knowing what ZiPS predicts for Uggla this year. And what was projection for BJ last season, and Uggla, and how bout Chris Johnson? Color me skeptical...

Jmonty
Jmonty

Let's add the 2nd and 3rd batters...  2nd Ronnie Milsap and 3rd.. Ray Charles.. 

The Braves will be lucky to win 70 games next year.  

reckingball
reckingball

@patriotdog .........Gonzalez does not deserve all the hate he gets from a whole lot of the commenters on these AJC blogs. But, he has made a lot of in-game decisions that have turned Ws into Ls, imo.

Why he decided to not try and win the home-field-advantage for the playoffs last year, is still a mystery.

ChopChamps95
ChopChamps95

@LADawg Some of Schafer's stat lines leave a lot to be desired.  His BB/K ratio would be bad as a regular player, but they are beyond atrocious for a bench player.  He's barely worthy of platoon consideration right now.

RafeHollister
RafeHollister

@BaseballTopFan 


Upswing for sure, what he needs is a level swing.  I don't see the potential either, he has been around long enough to show what he can do, .240 or so is about it.  Hope he gets back to that.