2010 Projections: Why B.J. Upton Will Bounce Back

Nick KappelAnalyst IIIMarch 3, 2010

PHILADELPHIA - OCTOBER 26:  B.J. Upton #2 of the Tampa Bay Rays bats against the Philadelphia Phillies during game four of the 2008 MLB World Series on October 26, 2008 at Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
Doug Pensinger/Getty Images


B.J. Upton was perhaps the biggest disappointment of the 2009 fantasy baseball season. There is reason to believe, however, that the 25-year-old will bounce back in 2010.

Nobody doubts his talent. Upton has season highs of 24 HRs, 44 steals, and a .300 average; he’s just never put it all together in one season. If he does, look out—that power/speed/average combo is top-20 material. 

While Upton’s 2009 totals – 11 HRs, 42 steals, .241 average – will turn many unforgiving owners away, his current ADP on Mock Draft Central is 58, and for good reason. Upton’s 2009 BABIP was just .310, a mediocre total considering his career .341 standard. His elevated fly ball percentages (40.3% in 2009, 34.6% career) suggest uncharacteristic struggles as well. With any luck, an average in the .270 to .280 range is within reach for 2010.

Upton’s power has obviously taken a hit, but his career HR/FB rate of 10.3 percent (6.8 in ‘09) is a reminder that 15 bombs aren’t out of the question in 2010.

The scariest part of Upton’s game lies within his stolen base totals. Despite posting a pathetic .313 OBP last year, the former No. 2 overall pick swiped 42 bases. If he reaches his career OBP of .352 in 2010, (and I believe he will) Upton may reach 50 steals.

It’s believed that Upton will begin 2010 batting sixth in the Rays’ lineup, a move which should relieve the pressure that hindered him as the team’s lead off hitter last season. With a repaired shoulder and an extra seven pounds of muscle, the elder Upton brother is primed for a bounce back season.

FBI Forecast: 550 at-bats, 90 runs, 15 HRs, 80 RBI, 50 steals, .276 average