Fantasy Baseball: Be Wary of B.J. Upton and Justin Upton in 2013
There are few things in this world that can be as tight as the bond between brothers. As an only child, I was never privileged enough to experience this phenomenon. However, if I have learned anything from the Jonas Brothers or David and Wayne Palmer, it’s that siblings can accomplish anything when putting this minds together, including influencing the lives of 12-year-old girls and keeping the country safe from terrorism.
But what about the brothers that can’t work together, those sets of siblings that simply bring each other down? They certainly exist as well. There’s the set of brothers in Ocean’s Eleven. They could hardly keep it together while working side by side.
By now, I’m sure you’re wondering what this has to do with anything, but the application is simple. Brothers, Justin Upton and B.J. Upton, have been reunited with the Atlanta Braves in the coming fantasy baseball season. As fantasy owners, we need to figure out if they will make sweet music like the Jonas Brothers or will they tear each other apart like Charlie Sheen and Emilio Estevez.
The Twittersphere has been abuzz that a change of scenery is all Justin Upton needs to reignite his promising career, and that playing with his brother would be good for B.J. This, unfortunately, isn’t true. This was one of the worst things that could have happened to either of their careers, and I’ll tell you why.
When looking at this conundrum, I think the first thing we need to look at is the underlying character of the two. Quick, name the first word that comes to your mind when I talk about B.J. Upton. What did you come up with? Disappointing? Underachieving? I know you didn’t come up with hard worker. B.J. Upton, the player, has been a major disappointment throughout his six-year MLB career.
Once a top prospect and a guy who was thought of as the next big thing, B.J. Upton’s development has halted in recent seasons. After respectable batting averages in 2007 and 2008 (.300 and .273,) he has never topped .246 in the subsequent four years. His home run total has increased each year in the Bigs, but his stolen base total has eroded in each of the past five seasons. To me, this screams lazy and complacent.
Justin Upton, on the other hand, seems like a good egg. He seems to work hard, and despite his poor 2012 campaign, was on the right track to become a star. That is until he landed in Atlanta, anyway.
While Upton is young and incredibly talented, I feel like I must throw some cold water on his case. He has hit 30 homers once in his career, but has never even touched 90 runs batted in. The batting average and speed numbers are nice, but expectations for him to hit 35 homers and drive in 110 RBI are not only unfounded, but simply something he has yet to prove to be capable of. And this was before he got mixed up in B.J.’s palaver.
B.J. simply does not take being a ballplayer seriously. It seems pretty obvious to me that B.J. is the kind of guy willing to skate by on his talent. Everything that we have come to know about B.J. Upton will be exacerbated with Justin in town. They will both be comfortable, and I think that there’s a good chance they will wrestle with entitlement and complacency all season long. Couple in the fact that B.J. has finally gotten paid, and I worry that motivation will be a major issue this season.
So obviously, I have condemned B.J. Upton to a terrible season, but where does that leave Justin?
It’s all a matter of how bad Justin wants it. He obviously still has star potential, but unless he wants to be great, I think he’s going to fall into the trap and plateau.
This truly is a crossroads year for Justin Upton, and I worry that his brother’s presence will guide him down the wrong path. I think that there is a point in which Justin Upton will become a great fantasy value pick, but he is not a guy that I would reach for in drafts. There are too many more accomplished, talented outfielders out there to take a risk on either of the Uptons.
It appears to me that Justin will be no better than a third round draft pick, while I wouldn’t trust B.J. beyond being a third outfielder.