2013 Fantasy Baseball: Getcha Some BJ
If you are going to list 2012’s fantasy busts, it’s no secret that B.J. Upton is going to be at the top of the list. Through June 7th, Upton is batting just .155 with six HRs and 12 RBI. He is also three for six in stolen bases and has only scored 14 runs. His K% is also a career high 33.2%, way off his career average of 25.5%. Those are hardly numbers fantasy owners expected when they drafted/bid on him. For the season, he currently sits 148th among outfielders on ESPN’s Player Rater, among names like Stephen Lombardozzi and Derrick Robinson. However, if you throw out preseason expectations there could still be a player worth rostering.
An article by ESPN’s Buster Olney on June 2nd (Insider Piece) talks about Braves hitting coach, Greg Walker, working with Upton on his swing mechanics. It summarizes his front toe not getting down fast enough and his hips opening too early leading to him being susceptible to good fastballs. It goes on stating that Upton has been working on ways to correct those issues and since the beginning of June you can see a noticeable difference in Upton’s numbers.
In a very small June sample size, Upton is hitting .227/.393/.500 with two HRs, four RBI and two runs scored. He also has already drawn six walks in 28 plate appearances which is vastly improved from his 16 walks in 180 PAs before June. Those walks have his BB/K rate at one 1.0 for the month. Well improved on the .26 BB/K to start the season but not sustainable according to his career mark of .42.
Other numbers of Upton’s are right in line with his career norms. His BB% for 2013 is 10.8% (10.6% for his career). His groundball/flyball ratio is 1.15 this year, only .02 off his career average of 1.17. And his home run/fly ball ratio is 13.0, compared to his career 12.2.
No experienced fantasy baseball owner is going to take a seven day June sample size when a player is off to as bad of a season as Upton has been. However, if you do believe there is a new approach to his at bats, he is available in 19.2% of ESPN.com leagues and 21% of Yahoo leagues. He isn’t going to help any fantasy teams in the batting average category, but taking a gamble on a player that has double digit HRs and SBs in five of his last six seasons is worth the risk.