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Melvin Upton Jr: Relevant Again?

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Melvin is doing what he can to make the Padres organization forget about his brother leaving town. He looks alive again after being the ghost of B.J.'s past.

Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

Remember when he went by B.J.? Remember when he had the 20-20 label on him? Remember when he actually hit 28 jacks to go along with 31 stolen bags back in 2012? Yeah, I can't either. All I actually remember of him is being traded around the league, following his brother around, hitting the DL a couple times, and slumping into irrelevance.

Melvin Upton Jr. was distraught to say the least after leaving the AL Tampa Bay Rays in favor of a very appropriate contract (75.2 mil over 5 years). You might wonder why I use the word distraught; because he had left a team he truly loved that he was drafted by, who nurtured him, and grew him into the superstar we once remember. He was a true star on that team and now he had to prove it again in another league, in another city. He moved on to Atlanta and the NL and became a shadow of his superstar brother. After a couple years of inadequate play he landed on the Padres via a trade that also included Craig Kimbrel. Melvin came over while still on the DL and couldn't quite find a rhythm in Southern California either. Being a homer of San Diego I remember clearly what the public's reaction was: Kimbrel will come in and lock down the 9th... and...Oh man, not another washed up big contract guy coming aboard. Rightfully so, he got labelled immediately coming to San Diego and most fans never gave him a chance to feel welcome. He didn't truly give us any reason to either; no fan likes when their organization that has never won a championship makes a deal that includes an injured guy that comes with a stigma of being his brothers sidekick.

Fast forward to 2016 - it is a new year and Melvin Upton Jr is the only Upton in town. Not only is he producing but, he has now been labelled a producer by his coach Andy Green; hitting in the clean-up spot the past 6 out of 7 games and batting 5th in the 3 subsequent starts. Let's look at how he has been making strides over the past year in the wOBA department:



Source: FanGraphs

Over their respective careers Melvin has taken a backseat to Justin as far as batting goes and it will continue to be that way. But what I'd like to bring to your attention is the wOBA spike that Melvin has been riding since hitting rock bottom in 2013. Check out that blue up-arrow starting in 2013 and notice how it moves up passing the league average last year (2015) and continues to go no where but up from a once very low place.

Now check this out; prepare to be convinced. Here are the Upton brothers' past 1-calendar-year statistics:

Name G PA HR R RBI SB BB% K% ISO BABIP AVG OBP SLG wOBA wRC+ BsR Off Def WAR
Justin Upton 138 569 23 75 73 18 11.20% 25.70% 0.194 0.296 0.244 0.333 0.438 0.333 115 4.2 14.3 -4.2 2.9
Melvin Upton Jr. 101 281 7 30 22 13 9.60% 25.60% 0.179 0.347 0.266 0.337 0.444 0.337 117 2.5 8.1 2.0 2.0

As you can see, they are truly brothers. Joking. But truly, how amazing is that; the rate stats are almost identical. Scroll over and check out their wRC+. I would have never guessed Melvin was leading his brother in this and in SLUG% over the sample. They differ in counting stats, yes, but that's due to the amount of PAs and the fact that Melvin wasn't hitting cleanup and mostly 6th, 7th, 8th, or 9th in the lineup through the 2015 season. Just for shrimps and giggles; lets prorate Melvin's PAs to match Justin's over a 569 PA sample that covers the past calendar year and look at the counting stats:

Name G PA HR R RBI SB
Justin Upton 138 569 23 75 73 18
Melvin Upton Jr. 101 281 7 30 22 13
Melvin Prorated 2.024911032 14 61 45 26

The chart is a little sloppy with the incorporated prorate number in there but you can figure it out. Say Melvin remained his normal self for another 288 PAs. The numbers absolutely give him some relevance.

If the older of the two Upton brothers can stay healthy, string along a few hot months, and stay somewhere in the 4 to 5 hole in the batting order we can surely expect him to put up some numbers for our fantasy squad. We will take what we can from a guy that has a general public perception of him that isn't strong. He's at a low price in most people's minds so he shouldn't be impossible to snag from someone via trade if he isn't available via waiver wire. Most of your league-mates might think it is smoke and mirrors for him to have a start like this but I think he is finally feeling comfortable and I'm sure Andy Green is boosting his confidence. As long as he hits behind Matt Kemp and Wil Myers on a daily basis, posts a Babip around .310, and moves his feet quick enough to steal bags for the Pads, he will be relevant.

Let's do ourselves a favor and train our brains to have a short memory about Melvin and his past four years in the NL. He still has 20-20 in him somewhere! But I'm thinking something more like 15-30 is plausible. He is finally feeling himself. Grab him now if you need an OF.