Look, we all know that fantasy owners covet the elusive 30/30 player. One can build an entire team around a player who puts up 30/30, but finding that player is a rarity. Ian Kinsler is the only player to reach 30/30 in 2009. Since 1999, only eleven players have reached the fantasy elite. Bobby Abreu and Vladimir Guerrero actually did it twice. Matt Kemp and Justin Upton are early favorites to sniff this fantasy milestone in 2010, but what about Justin's big brother, Bossman Jr.?
B.J. Upton is entering his prime. He will turn 25 years old in 2010, and is just two seasons removed from a rookie campaign (.300/.386/.508) in which he belted 24 homers and stole 22 bases. Oh yeah, the boy can play.
Upton tore his labrum in 2008, but opted to play through the pain, forgoing surgery until after the season. His power suffered during the regular season, but he crushed seven home runs and 16 RBI while carrying the Rays to their first ever World Series. Upton finished the season with a .273 average, nine homers, 67 RBI, and 44 stolen bases. He then went under the knife of Dr. James Andrews and was thought to be fully healthy entering 2009.
Unfortunately Upton's power outage continued as he went .241/.313/.373 with 42 stolen bases. Surely this was in part due to his weakened shoulder. While he was extremely valuable in the speed department (only Crawford, Ellsbury and Bourn stole more bases), Upton was a big let down in homers (11), RBI (55) and average (.241). Not horrible numbers, but certainly not what you paid for in 2009.
So here we are at the Printemps of the 2010 season preparing our cheat sheets for the upcoming draft. Baseball Prospectus forecasts Upton to go .272-89-20-77-37. That's almost first-round material. Bill James is less optimistic and has Upton at .266-81-13-59-39. One thing is for certain, we've seen enough of a track record to know that the speed is for real.
Savvy owners should draft Upton slightly earlier than his current number 59 ADP, and hope he finishes somewhere in the middle of the above referenced projections. At worst, you get a 40-plus stolen base outfielder with mediocre power numbers and a low average. At best, you get a .300-90-30-90-40 fantasy baseball MVP. After all, this could be the year that Upton puts it all together...again.
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