March 12, 2013 at 2:53 pm by Franklin Rabon under Atlanta Braves
We’ve alluded to this issue several times, but a lot of how this season may play out depends on which BJ Upton we get. Do we get the guy who put up back to back .380+ OBPs in 2007 and 2008, or do we get the guy who was in the .320 – .330 OBP range thereafter; up until last year, when he went .298 OBP (yikes).
The biggest culprit has seemed to be good old ‘aggressiveness’, a familiar bugaboo for CAC. In 2008 BJ swung at just 15% of pitches out of the zone. In 2012, he swung at over twice that clip, 32.7%. He also saw his in the zone swing percentage go up from 67% to 75% in the same years. The former trend is incredibly problematic, while the latter is okay. It’s just very difficult to be a productive hitter when you swing at 1/3 of all pitches thrown to you out of the zone.
One issue this lineup potentially has is that it has no real prototypical leadoff hitter with great on base ability. BJ once had that. 2007 BJ, with his current grown man power, could be a dynamic leadoff guy. The weird thing is that out of zone swing percentage is usually something that you see players improve on as they age, not massively decline in. Was it just a change in approach? It would seem odd that such a forward thinking organization as the Rays would push for Upton to be more aggressive out of the zone. It will be an interesting thing to watch. If you want to know what we’re likely to see out of BJ, watch that out of zone swing percentage early. If we have wait and rake BJ, we could be in for a a great year from him, as he’s improved most every other facet of his game.