Batting Second in Line-up is Right Spot for Atlanta Braves’ B.J. Upton

By David Miller
bj upton braves
Daniel Shirey-USA Today Sports

Last night the Atlanta Braves had a good offensive showing in the first inning. They stumbled after that and ultimately wound up losing the game but that isn’t something I really plan on talking about. Instead I want to focus on B.J. Upton’s night in the second spot in the batting order. Upton went 1 – 3 with a walk, a single and a run scored. Now that might not be enough to really blow your skirt up but it only takes a spark to start a fire.

To find out if Upton has a better chance at success in the second spot let’s look at what he has done in there in his career. He has played more games from that position than any other batting order slot but only slightly more there than the lead-off spot. His stats from number two look like this: .268 average, 29 homers and 96 RBI. There are many stats to back up what I am about to say but I’ll just list those three for the purpose of making the point.

Upton’s offensive numbers are better across the board from the second position in the line-up. I found only one stat, on base percentage, that was slightly higher in another spot in the order. More doubles, more walks, more homers, more runs, more everything from this position. It only makes sense that he will have more success there. It is where he has spent the most time and where he probably feels the most comfortable.

The issue with Upton’s performance so far in the season is a serious one I think. It certainly is a bigger deal than Craig Kimbrel having a couple of blown saves. That one will take care of itself I guarantee you. Upton got a large sum of money to come in and perform at least as well as he has in the past. The fact that Evan Gattis might be a better choice for an outfielder at this point than B.J. Upton is a problem for the Braves. It can’t work well without him.

I think though that there are more things going on than it appears. Sometimes guys go through really tough spots where they are pulling off of everything that is thrown. Major League pitchers are smart and follow scouting reports closely. If Upton has trouble with off-speed stuff away then there are very few that will even bother throwing him a fastball middle-in. Unless, possibly the thought of walking him to put a base runner on in front of Major League homerun leader Justin Upton bothers them more.

That is the other factor with placing him at the second spot. He very well could see better pitches because teams are already trying to avoid Justin Upton after his lightning rod start to the year. All he sees are balls away and off the plate and they certainly don’t want to put a base-runner on in front of him. All things considered I think B.J. Upton slotting just in front of his younger brother could be the move that gets him going this year. Let’s just not worry about what all will happen when Jason Heyward comes back. That makes my head hurt.

David Miller is a Senior Writer for Follow him on Twitter @davidmillerrant, “Like” him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google+.

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