Daniel Shirey-US PRESSWIRE
Y'all gonna make me go all out, Upton there, Upton there.
The Atlanta Braves decided that the reason they've struggled so much in the postseason is that they were short on Uptons. Two short, in fact. It's fortunate that there were two of them available in the offseason and the Braves picked them both up: Justin Upton and BJ Upton. The price for Justin was surprisingly cheap (Martin Prado, Randall Delgado, and three others) considering that at one time or another you could have argued that he was the most valuable player on the market (age, talent, cost, 2009 and 2011 production) but here are the Braves with a potential MVP in the middle of their lineup.
J-Up hit .280/.355/.430 with 17 HR, 18 SB, 107 R, and 67 RBI in 2012, and though there was a significant drop in power (.240 ISO in 2011 drops to .150 in 2012) it's kind of surprising to see how good the "struggling" younger Upton was last year. He could stand to K less and BB more, but he's still only 25. His comps through age 24 include Jack Clark, Tony Conigliaro, Ron Santo, and Andruw Jones, though his highest comp is the highly-disappointing Ruben Sierra. But he could have a significant advantage switching from the Diamondbacks to the Braves, specifically because he's sandwiched between two pretty good young hitters.
2013 Atlanta Braves projected lineup (ZIPS projections):
SS Andrelton Simmons - .278/.320/.382, 5 HR, 48 RBI, 14 SB
OF Jason Heyward - .265/.341/.472, 24 HR, 72 RBI, 16 SB
OF Justin Upton - .263/.348/.442, 22 HR, 76 RBI, 19 SB
1B Freddie Freeman - .274/.350/.476, 26 HR, 97 RBI, 3 SB
OF BJ Upton - .251/.322/.455, 25 HR, 80 RBI, 34 SB
2B Dan Uggla - .238/.334/.414, 23 HR, 80 RBI, 3 SB
C Brian McCann - .258/.338/.441, 21 HR, 73 RBI, 3 SB
3B Juan Francisco - .252/.286/.451, 16 HR, 59 RBI, 2 SB
Heyward shares some good and bad characteristics with Upton. Like his new teammate, Heyward was once considered to be perhaps the premier young player in the game. Also like Upton, he has switched off good and bad seasons. After hitting .277/.393/.456 as a 20-year-old rookie, he hit .227/.319/.389 the following year. Luckily, J-Hey hit .269/.335/.479 with 27 HR and 21 SB in 2012 and hopefully he's trending upwards and doesn't take a step backwards like Upton has before. If he can do that and if Upton can rebound, then the Braves have a ridiculously talented and young 2-3 in their lineup.
That would be great news for Freeman, coming off a .259/.340/.456, 23 HR, 94 RBI season as a 22-year-old. Freeman already has two 20-HR and two 30-double seasons in two years at the pro level. He could put up some major RBI seasons over the next 5-6 years.
As for Big Brother Upton, BJ is coming off a .246/.298/.454 season with the Rays. While the walks leave a lot to be desired, he did hit a career-high 28 home runs. As a matter of fact, there's a whole lot of home runs projected in that lineup and there could be a serious run on runs in Atlanta this season. A lot of those balls will be flying out of the park.
I guess you could say they'll be flying, "Upton outta here!"