2011 Rays Projections: B.J. Upton

February 18, 2011 at 10:27 am 1 comment

B.J. Upton

B.J. Upton might possibly the hardest player on the Rays to project. A player capable of putting up an on-base percentage above .380 with 20+ homer and 40+ steal capabilities. The steals are a virtual lock but the power and on-base skills are hard to predict.

Since 2007, Upton’s first full season, his OBP has seen major declines. He posted an outstanding .386 OBP in 2007 and .383 in 2008 but well below-average .313 in 2009 and .322 in 2010. His average has also dropped every season (.300-.273-.241-.237).

Parts of Upton’s problems have been that he cannot catch up to above-average fastballs. It’s obvious to the naked eye and in his stats. If you take out his 2007 season where he posted an amazing +23.8 wFB he stands at -13.3 wFB. Yes, it is a running stat, but it’s still below average. In fact he sits below average against the slider (-17.4) and the cutter (-6.4). Upton only seems to flourish against softer stuff. He owns above-average career marks in wCH (11.3), wCB (10.3), and wSF (4.6).

Two more problems have been contact and inability to hit right-handers. Upton set career highs in O-Swing% (25.3%) and SwingingStrike% (12.0%). He also hit a dimal .218/.294/.371 in 413 plate appearances against right-handers with a 34.3% K-rate.

On the bright side, Upton has seen increases in ISO the past three seasons (.128+.132+.187), hits left-handers very well, and always adds value with his glove. But due to his inconsistencies I could not project totals for him that I myself believe are attainable. Here are his projected numbers for 2011:

 Stat  Total
 AVG  .248
 OBP  .331
 SLG  .435
 OPS  .766
 Plate App.  628
 At-Bats  556
 Hits  138
 Homeruns  18
 Doubles  42
 Triples  4
 BB  68
 SO  153
 SB  44
 UZR  +3

 

At first glance those numbers don’t jump out at you and scream excellence, but compared to position they are actually very good and could net him in the range of 3.4-3.7 fWAR depending on replacement level for next year.

Again, the hard part about Upton and doing these projections is that you know he has the ability to post an fWAR around 5 but whether it’s his offense, his defense, his lack of hustle, or whatever, he has yet to reach the 5 fWAR mark. Will this be the year he does? I’d like to think so, at least not until he makes adjustments and learns how to hit the fastball again. I have to be realistic with Upton and the projected stats are plenty to be happy about, especially when you know he has the ability to outperform them.

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2011 Rays Projections: Kelly Shoppach Scouting the Rays on 2/27/11

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