Friday, July 20, 2007

Back from the DL - BJ Upton

This is the first of many "Back from the DL" player reports. What I'll do is take a look at a player who recently returned from the DL, Injured list, or a period of inactivity due to injury & compare their post-injury production to their pre-injury production.

Some players need a good amount of regular playing time after an injury to get their timing & game back, while others appear as good (or at times, better) as pre-injury immediately after return.

Today I'm going to take a look at BJ Upton (2b, 3b, OF in yahoo game)

Full Season Stats:
.336 avg
11 hr
38 rbi
13 sb
30 bb (or 12% of his total plate appearances)
74 k (or 29% of his total plate appearances)

Pre-Injury Stats:
.320 avg
9 hr
31 rbi
13 sb
22 bb (or 10% of his total plate appearances)
68k (or 31% of his total plate appearances)

Post-DL Stats (all after the all-star break):
.478 avg
2 hr
7 rbi
0 sb
8 bb (or 26% of his total plate appearances)
6 k (or 19% of his total plate appearances)

What to Note:
What I'd like to highlight here is the bb & k ratios. Obviously it's only a small sample size, but the increased walk rate bodes well for Upton's 2nd half. He's still going to strike out at an above average rate, but based on his first 7 games back, it appears he's being more selective at the plate, getting more pitches to hit, and getting on base more which will lead to more opportunities for stolen bases & runs. He's also back in the 3 hole in the order (after batting 6th his first 3 games back), so the RBI opportunities should also present themselves (especially if Carl Crawford has a good 2nd half, since he's been hitting 2nd in the order).

Now I've seen Adam Dunn play this trick on me before, when he has stretches where his K's drop below his normal level, while he still gets lots of walks...before he comes back down to 'Dunn Earth' (huge strikeout & walk totals & low avg); but in the case of Upton, I think he's still maturing so it could be sustainable.

Again, this is a small sample size, so it could be a fluke...but I truly think he's improving rapidly as a hitter (since an improving walk rate is often the sign of a maturing hitter); which is scary, since he has an incredibly quick swing, power, speed, and youth going for him. Now isn't the best time to trade for him (especially after his 2 hr & 3 rbi on Friday night), but he's a great long term keeper & I'd love to have him on one of my rosters. Based on Upton's free swinging nature, I never thought he could keep up his .320 + average over the full season, but with his more selective approach recently, I now think he might end up finishing in the .305 range, with around 20 hr & 27 sb...pretty sweet for a guy who qualifies at multiple positions & could have been on the waiver wire at some point in many leagues this season.

Just Because:
By the way, since I'm on Tampa Bay, keep an eye on Delmon Young - he's been on a hot streak recently (even though he went hitless in Friday's 14-4 win against the Yankees, breaking his 11 game hitting streak). He's up to over .290 on the season, and is hitting over .380 in July. His lack of walks, hr, and sb is a little frustrating (since he was estimated by many experts to be a 20-20 guy before the season started), but watch out. He could be close to really breaking out, so if he's available in any shallow leagues, now might be your last chance to get him...and don't worry, I think his bat throwing days are over, especially since Elijah Dukes is now back in the minors at Class A Vero Beach.

Continuing this random, run on thought, at least it sounds like Dukes is honest (since he admitted to the judge that he smokes pot on a regular basis). His estranged wife said that he "used marijuana during the day, night and drank heavily, downing Patron tequila, Hennessy cognac and Smirnoff vodka until he has passed out." I wonder if this contributed at all to his anger problems?

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