Should the Atlanta Braves Have Left B.J. Upton off of Postseason Roster?
Heading into the Atlanta Braves' National League Division Series matchup with the Los Angeles Dodgers, Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez made a splash on Wednesday by leaving second baseman Dan Uggla off of the team's 25-man roster.
Uggla's benching was completely deserved. He has struggled mightily during his time with the Braves, including his miserable .179 batting average this season.
Unfortunately for the Braves, Uggla is not the only highly paid player who has had trouble at the plate this season.
Outfielder and Sports Illustrated cover boy B.J. Upton has had an incredibly awful season for the Braves, but somehow he was included as one of the six outfielders on Gonzalez's roster for the Dodgers series.
In his first season with the Braves, Upton hit .184 at the plate while crushing just nine home runs and driving home 26 runs in 126 games played.
The Braves two highest paid players, Uggla and B.J. Upton, are hitting a combined .181, with 152 hits, and 322 K's this season.— Jack Conness (@CashMneyConness) October 3, 2013
The 29-year-old center fielder has achieved career-lows in almost every statistical category, putting his current worth to the team at an all-time low.
#Braves Freeman 2nd in majors at .443 w/ runners in scoring position. B.J. Upton (.108) and Uggla (.137) were bottom 2 among qualifiers.— David O'Brien (@ajcbraves) October 1, 2013
If he really wanted to leave Upton off of his postseason roster, Gonzalez easily could have, with five capable outfielders and hybrid catcher and outfielder Evan Gattis already in the squad.
It is basically a no-brainer that B.J.'s younger brother Justin will occupy right field while Jason Heyward will play in center field, a position that he is beginning to get used to because of the elder Upton's struggles.
If need be, both Heyward and Justin Upton can shift positions in the outfield, Heyward to right and Upton to left, depending on whom Gonzalez inserts into the lineup.
B.J. Upton would most likely play center field if he were to start, but in all honesty, the Braves are a much better team without him in the lineup.
Ideally, Gonzalez would like to have Heyward start in center with Justin Upton in right and some type of platoon in left field that would feature either Gattis, Jose Constanza or Jordan Schafer.
Braves NLDS roster: Outfielders: Heyward, J. Upton, B.J. Upton, R. Johnson, Constanza and Schafer— Mark Bowman (@mlbbowman) October 2, 2013
Braves NLDS roster cont. Catchers: McCann, Laird and Gattis. Infielders: Freeman, E. Johnson, Simmons, C. Johnson and Janish.— Mark Bowman (@mlbbowman) October 2, 2013
In the trio of Gattis, Constanza and Schafer, Gonzalez has three reliable options that could perform much better under pressure than the former Tampa Bay Rays slugger.
Gattis has been a total surprise to everyone in the organization all season long. There is no doubt that Gonzalez would love to have his bat in the lineup for most of the game. The pinch-hitting scenario perfectly fits reserve outfielder Reed Johnson and whoever will be the backup second baseman, either Elliot Johnson or Paul Janish.
In Constanza and Schafer, Gonzalez has two similar players who can deliver an extra amount of speed to the lineup as well as strong defense in left field. The duo would obviously be able to cover more ground in left than the bulky Gattis, which would make either of the two a candidate to be a defensive replacement late in the game if Gattis starts.
With three very reliable options to play left field on the roster and Upton in a season-long slump, it honestly makes no sense for B.J. Upton to be included for the postseason.
The only justification that Gonzalez has for B.J. Upton's roster spot is his spectacular postseason back in 2008, when he hit seven home runs and drove in 15 runs for the Rays on their way to the World Series.
Hoping that Upton will recreate his postseason magic from 2008 is something that Gonzalez or anyone in the Braves organization should not bank on given his continuous failures at the plate.
With that being said, the postseason is known for the most unlikeliest of players stepping up in the big moment.
Maybe for that reason, and that reason only, Gonzalez decided to save Upton from the same fate as Uggla.
Should B.J. Upton have been included in Atlanta's postseason plans?
Comment below or leave me a comment on Twitter, @JTansey90.
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