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Melvin Upton Jr.
8/21/1984 (32 y, 6 m, 7 d)
2002 June Amateur Draft - Round: 1, Pick: 2, Overall: 2, Team: Tampa Bay Devil Rays
$75.2M / 5 Years (2013 - 2017)
Upton feels his struggles in recent years have made him "mentally stronger" and well-prepared to win the starting job in left field, Mike Nabors of MLB.com reports. (2/23/2017)
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(Click Year to Expand /
Year in Review:
After offseason labrum surgery went well, Upton returned at a hasty pace, missing only a week of the regular season and promptly beginning the worst season of his career. He didn’t hit for much power or batting average – except for June – and his ability to draw walks suffered because of it. He remained one of the more disciplined batters in the league, rarely swinging at pitches outside of his strike zone, but pitchers were able to pound him inside with fastballs without so much as a strongly batted foul. Dropped from the leadoff spot, Upton remained in the lineup because of his fantastic defense. Easily one of the three or four best center-field defenders during any given year, his – at times – stylistic basket catches invoke memories of Willie Mays, while his strong arm and shallow positioning make him a threat to even the briskest of base runners. One of the bright spots from Upton’s season came during the final regular-season series, when he hit for the cycle, hitting four hard liners in the process. Upton’s “lazy” demeanor is a mystery to those who work alongside of him.
The Year Ahead:
Trade rumors may fly but it would seem Upton’s value – and cost – is too low for the Rays to actually trade him. His defense is irreplaceable and does anyone truly believe his offensive ability has fallen this far this quickly? Upton should be good for a dozen or so home runs and 35-plus steals no matter what; because of his injury there’s some upside to be had here. Upton could see some added runs scored if he can get on base a little more consistently with an improved batting average and/or find his way back to the top of the order. There are bonus points to be had if your league credits for number of over-the-shoulder grabs at the wall or runners from second gunned down at home. (R.J. Anderson)
If you’ve owned B.J. Upton in either of the past two years, you’ve undoubtedly been disappointed with his results. In 2007 and 2008, Upton was great, and for two different reasons. In both of those seasons, Upton was 2B eligible, and he either provided a nice mix of power and speed (2007) or dominated the stolen-base category (2008). While Upton still gives owners 40+ steals with double-digit power, his batting average and lack of infield-eligibility severely hampers his value. By now, we all know that Upton is extremely lazy and lacks enough motivation to put up strong numbers. Either that, or because he strikes out far to often, doesn’t hit enough line drives, and swings at pitches outside of the strike zone more than he should. Nah, he’s just lazy. If Upton can simply shorten up his swing and utilize his speed and on-base ability, he’s going to be a far better fantasy option for 2011. Otherwise, another season with a .240 average, 15 homers and 40 steals is your best bet. (Zach Sanders)
The Quick Opinion:
Expecting Upton to ever match his 2007 and 2008 numbers is just silly. However, he's a good bet to hit .240 with 15 homers and 40 steals, and there's nothing wrong with that.
The ultimate tease year after year, Upton is now coming into his sixth season and has seemingly settled into his place in the fantasy landscape. He has 20-home-run power and 35-45 stolen base potential. His 23 home runs last season were his most since his 2007 break-out campaign. He strikes out more than you would like, but his 11% walk rate over the past two seasons helps to ease that pain and keeps his on base percentage in the .330 range. He’s locked into the second spot in the Rays order behind speedster Desmond Jennings and ahead of Evan Longoria, providing ample opportunities for both scoring and knocking in runs. While not a star, Upton is one of only 12 players to post a 20HR/30SB season in 2011, putting him in the upper-middle group of outfielders come draft day. (Erik Hahmann)
The Quick Opinion:
You know what you’re getting with Upton; solid power, lots of stolen bases, and a ~.240 batting average. He’s more reliable than maddening in fantasy as opposed to reality.
B.J. Upton is no less than an enigma: He had two seasons above a .380 on-base percentage before his 24th birthday, and yet in 2012, he set a new career high with 28 homers, but dropped beneath a .300 OBP for the first time in his career. His .246/.298/.454 may not look like much, but considering he played in a pitcher's haven, Tropicana Field, the slash does not look as bad, but still not great. He plays solid defense in center field, and has a history of above average offense in a position known for mostly average offense. Plus, he is only in his age-28 season, and will be calling the neutral run environment of Turner Field home. All told, Upton makes for a better center field option than most out there, and is particularly valuable in 5x5 leagues where his proliferation of homers and steals helps in multiple ways. Upton was two homers short of a 30-30 season in 2012, but if his increased aggressiveness leads to that auspicious stat combo in 2013, do not expect his OBP to be any better than it was 2012. (
The Quick Opinion:
Upton appears to have traded his on-base skills for power in 2012. He moves to a more hitter-friendly park as a member of the Braves, and he is still young and good offensively for his position. In most leagues, his dual threat of power and steals can be a real boost for most teams.
It cannot get any worse! It's all uphill from here! Those are the battle cries from the Braves organization and its fans and Upton owners in keeper leagues. Calling Upton's season a disaster might be the understatement of the year. The worst part is that we can't even point to an injury or get any clear explanation. The one beacon of light is that, for at least half the 2014 season, he will remain on the good side of age 30, and players of his age don't suddenly forget how to hit. Especially players that possess such an intriguing combination of power and speed like Upton does. At the right price, and he should certainly come at bargain basement prices, he's worth gambling on given his vast upside. (
The Quick Opinion:
Nothing went right for Upton this past year and it's hard to identify any reason for optimism. But assuming he opens the season as the Braves starting center fielder, his proven combination of power and speed make him someone you cannot afford to ignore given his likely bargain draft cost.
Make that two consecutive terrible seasons in Atlanta for B.J. Upton. If there is any silver lining, it's that he was considerably better last year than he was the season prior. His average was still miserable but he did manage to hit 12 home runs and steal 20 bases. Like it or not, but that has value in the fake game, especially given the low run scoring environment we now live in. At just 30 years old, Upton still may have some juice left in him, but he is a tremendous gamble in standard leagues and you would likely be better suited letting someone else deal with the frequent swings and misses of the eldest Upton brother. The Braves have also stated that they will not simply just play Upton because he is signed to such a huge contract, which makes drafting him an even bigger risk. The days of 20 homers and 30 steals are certainly gone, but in a full season it is not outlandish to think he could get back to a 15/25 year. Even so, he has over 1,000 plate appearances of absolutely awful numbers in Atlanta and it should not be expected that he will suddenly rebound. (Ben Duronio)
The Quick Opinion:
Upton struggled again last year and it is unlikely that he will rebound to his Tampa Bay production this year. He is a fairly big gamble, but does still possess some home run and stolen base potential.
After two woeful seasons with the Atlanta Braves, Melvin Upton Jr. was traded to the Padres just before Opening Day last year (and was once again reunited with his brother, Justin). The elder Upton was on the disabled list with a foot issue until June, but he played well once he returned and heated up over the summer for his best campaign since he was known as Bossman Junior. Upton only notched 228 plate appearances across 87 games, but he managed a .259/.327/.429 line for a 112 park and league adjusted OPS, his highest mark since 2011 and second-best since '07. He was particularly adept against lefties, against whom he managed a .792 OPS (albeit in just 84 PA). Although his small bounce back is encouraging, believers should not be too hasty seeing as he was buoyed by a .348 batting average on balls in play -- a likely unsustainable mark, even for a man who has a .315 BABIP in his 11-year career. Looking ahead, Upton will be 31 on Opening Day and is likely to receive plenty of starts in center field for San Diego as long as he can fend off inferior defender Jon Jay and others. Upton is still capable of providing value with his glove, but he could lose playing time if his bat regresses again. Expect some homers and steals with rate stats that could go bad in a hurry. (Dylan Higgins)
The Quick Opinion:
Upton showed considerable signs of life last year, even if it was only in part of a season. The veteran has always had intriguing power and speed potential, and fantasy owners may want to roll the dice on him late in drafts on the chance that he has actually figured out how to turn things around with San Diego.
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Updated: Tuesday, February 28, 2017 3:33 AM ET
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