On Thursday night, I was catching up on my baseball reading and came across Jason Grey's article on Justin Upton over at ESPN. The article focused on the fact that Upton is not dialed in at the plate currently, but he is getting close. Last year, Upton suffered through a horrible spring training and month of April, but caught fire and finished the year going 26-86-20.
Later in the article, Grey mentions that a scout he knows thinks Upton can steal 40 bases this year. 40 steals!!! So Grey asked Upton about it and here is Upton's response:
"I have the green light, but it's a bigger decision to be made batting in the three-hole. With [Adam] LaRoche and [Mark] Reynolds behind me, I'm always in scoring position with those guys up. You have to make sure you can get the bag with those two guys behind you, and you have to be careful.
"Forty [steals] isn't out of the realm of possibility, but the situations have to be right, and I need to go frequently. I've got a feel for most of the [pitchers' moves] in our division now, and the more you study and the more you get into the season, the better feel you get for each pitcher, and you have a better chance to steal later in the year."
I thought coming into this season a 35-20 season would be a fantastic season for Upton, but 35-40?? That would vault him into the #1 spot ahead of Albert Pujols in 2011 fantasy drafts. If you think about it, Barry Bonds stole 40+ bases on a regular basis when he was younger, then he focused on the power side of his game as he got older. Upton already has shown the power side, with a hint toward his speed side with the 20 SBs last season. I don't think anyone expected 20 SBs from Upton going into the 2009 season, so why not 40 SBs in 2010?
Could happen. And he will be the buzz amongst fantasy writers across the web.