After signing the biggest free agent contract in the history of the franchise, B.J. Upton’s start to his Atlanta tenure was obviously lackluster. Posting consecutive months with a wRC+ south of 40 is a bad way to kick off your experiences in a new city, especially a city that has playoff and World Series expectations.
Things turned around for Upton in more ways than one, and those fantasy owners who were willing to stick it out with Upton have been rewarded. Since he is still being started in less than 50% of Yahoo! leagues, there is still a sense out there that either Upton is still struggling or that he will start to struggle again soon. This has me looking at Upton as a buyer rather than a seller. A lot of traditional fantasy players may be thinking they can move Upton at this point since he has gotten going. And a lot more probably think they would like to see more of him producing before they make a bet on him. That’s why I think there is an opportunity to grab him for pretty cheap right now, which is what I plan to do in any league I don’t own Upton in already.
Looking at his June numbers, things went the right way for Upton for once this year. His walk rate was a robust 16.5%, his strikeout rate dropped to 24.3%, and he ended up with an .812 OPS backed by four homers and four steals. That is just under a homer and a steal per week, which is obviously very serviceable.
For the year, he has struggled more against lefties than righties, which is a trend you would not expect to continue given his career stats. If he straightens himself out against lefties (currently has a 33 wRC+ against southpaws) he should be able to be the B.J. Upton of old, which is mighty valuable in fantasy formats. While Upton does not hit for a high average, he is probably not far from being named the team’s leadoff man. Andrelton Simmons has struggled at the dish this season and with Upton on the rise, he has a decent chance of jumping up to the top of the order. This should allow him to get more plate appearances to up those homer and steal numbers, which is where Upton really makes his bones.
He will not be a 30-30 guy as many hoped entering the season, but the chances for him to get to 20-20 are still there. ZiPs has him hitting 11 more homers and stealing 14 more bases, which are two very solid numbers that I would love to have on my fantasy roster. He may struggle in other areas, but being exceptional in those categories is what has made Upton such a great fantasy player this season. See how much an owner will trade him for in your league and make the jump to acquire him if he’s affordable.
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