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Tuesday, September 11, 2012

FanGraphs: Sullivan: B.J. Upton Now Differently Confounding

Upton: Between Two Worlds.

Through August 10 of this season, Upton owned a .676 OPS. The free-agent-to-be wasn’t doing anything to boost his value, and then on August 11, Upton hit two home runs. Upton hit three home runs yesterday, on September 10. FanGraphs leaderboards have a very handy “Last 30 Days” option in the pull-down menu for splits, and the last 30 days capture both August 11 and September 10. Upton has been streaking. Over the last 30 days, Upton has posted the fourth-highest wRC+ in baseball, at 193. He’s right in between Adrian Beltre and Miguel Cabrera, and that tends to be good company as offensive statistics are concerned. Yet at the same time, over the last 30 days, Upton has posted the very lowest contact rate in baseball, at 57 percent. The next-lowest belongs to Chris Carter, at 63 percent. Upton’s hottest stretch at the plate by one statistic coincides with his coldest stretch at the plate by another. Not that contact rate is even close to being as important as wRC+, but this is weird. Upton has hit the crap out of the ball. At the same time he’s posted a lower contact rate than Aroldis Chapman has allowed.

...Right now, what’s important isn’t B.J. Upton’s free agency. Upton and the Rays are trying to get to the playoffs, and lately Upton has done a lot more helping than hurting. Over 28 games over those last 30 days, he’s hit 11 home runs and also stolen eight bases for good measure. But what matters for Upton’s free agency is also what matters right now. And that’s the question of: how good is B.J. Upton going to be? He’s a tricky one to pin down. Some numbers suggest that right now he’s locked in, and some numbers suggest the very opposite. Some numbers suggest that Upton is beginning to really tap into his abundant potential, and some numbers suggest that he’s going to get exposed once pitchers figure out what he’s doing.

Repoz Posted: September 11, 2012 at 06:06 AM | 4 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: rays

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   1. sotapop Posted: September 11, 2012 at 07:32 AM (#4232309)
Since I've been living down in SW Fla, I've been following the Rays, and noticed this a few days ago. Took a look at Upton's three-year September splits... he has a .496 SLG for September, compared to .408 overall, and it's 50 points better than his best month. Without busting out my college statistics text, that *seems* significant (but I'm going nowhere near the "clutch" argument).

From a purely subjective view... I've seen dozens of his at-bats, and he has a a gorgeous swing -- reminds me of a righty Griffey Jr. -- but that might be exactly why he has the contact problem mentioned in the article. It's a fast swing, but it's big and sweeping, and seems like there might be a huge hole in the swing for pitchers to exploit.
   2. charityslave is thinking about baseball Posted: September 11, 2012 at 08:28 AM (#4232324)
With that contact rate, I think he's more likely to really crater in near future. And it sure limits his upside. I sure hope my rooting interest doesn't bite during the offseason.
   3. SG Posted: September 11, 2012 at 09:28 AM (#4232373)
Since I've been living down in SW Fla, I've been following the Rays, and noticed this a few days ago. Took a look at Upton's three-year September splits... he has a .496 SLG for September, compared to .408 overall, and it's 50 points better than his best month.

Baseball Reference has his 2010-2012 Sept/Oct SLG at .597 in 226 AB. His 2010-2012 overall SLG is .433, so SLG within one standard deviation in either direction on that over 226 PA is in the .397 - .469 range.
   4. sotapop Posted: September 11, 2012 at 02:21 PM (#4232813)
Thanks, SG, I just used the Sept. figures off ESPN. His October numbers are ridiculous but also are in just 25 AB or so, iirc. Thanks also for running the SD for me; too lazy to open up R and do it myself. Seems like he gets hot at the end of the year; call it whatever you will.

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