Atlanta Braves Left Fielder Justin Upton Needs to Up His Game with Runners on

By Josh McKinney
Daniel Shirey-USA TODAY Sports

It seems kind of silly to say that a guy who is leading Major League Baseball in home runs needs to perform better, but that’s exactly what I’m about to do.

During the early part of the season, I have constantly sung the praises of Atlanta Braves left fielder Justin Upton, who has homered 12 times and knocked in 21 runs while compiling a batting average of .276 and an on-base percentage of .386.

However, the other day I saw a stat about how much better the 25-year-old has hit with the bases empty than he has with runners on. In fact, the numbers were so split that I was a little taken aback.

In 72 at-bats with the bases empty, Upton has tallied 24 hits, giving him a .333 average. He has gone deep 11 times, with those 11 solo shots accounting for all 11 of his RBIs with the bags clear, while his on-base percentage in such situations currently sits at .435.

By contrast, Upton is batting just .182 with runners on, recording eight hits in 44 at-bats and notching just one homer to go with 10 RBIs and a .309 on-base percentage. That isn’t the most eye-popping disaparity though, as Upton’s slugging percentage with the bases empty (.833) blows away what he has slugged with runners on (.295).

I am by no means attempting to downplay what Atlanta’s no. 3 hitter has meant to one of the fiercest lineups in baseball, but the fact of the matter is that he needs to improve upon the aforementioned stats.

His brother B.J. Upton needs to hit better in all situations, so I’m not slighting Justin in the least. I’m just saying that he still has some work to do if he wants to be a truly great all-around hitter and a viable candidate for the National League Most Valuable Player Award.

Josh McKinney is an Atlanta Braves writer for Follow him on Twitter @SuperJMac32, “Like” him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google.

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