Time to start assessing some of the big time names for the Rays and we are starting with the outfield and B.J. Upton. The fast and sure gloved center fielder of the Rays had an up and down season, but still proved to be one of the best defenders and best base stealers in the league. Upton struggled at the plate this season, but did see an increase in his power production. He needs to improve his average overall, but he remains one of the best young talents in all of the majors. Let’s look at the numbers behind Upton.
Upton finished the season with a disappointing batting average of .237, 18 home runs, and 62 RBIs. He also had 89 runs scored, 42 stolen bases (always a threat on the bases), and 127 hits. Upton also had 67 walks, 164 strikeouts, an on base percentage of .322 and a slugging percentage of .424.
Upton’s hitting makes many fans very upset. He has a choppy swing, where he seems to load up and unleash with a very high upper cut style swing. While this has improved his power numbers, his OBP and BA have dropped as he looks for extra bases or a home run. Upton can improve his swing and has potential to hit around .280 consistently and still hit for power. Hitting coach Derek Shelton needs to change Upton’s mindset and help adjust his swing (not sure if he can do that).
Upton’s glove is still incredible. With a combination of incredible speed (helps with base stealing too) Upton can cover large sections of center field and make incredible catches. He did seem to “take it easy” on a few plays this year, but no one should question his ability and it is on the coaches to get him focused and ready for each game.
Upton is still young and an incredible talent. He is under contract till 2012 and it is highly unlikely the Rays will move him unless something incredible happens. Final grade: C+
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