Atlanta Braves OF B.J. Upton endured highly publicized struggles in the early season. As his brother and new teammate Justin Upton got off to an extremely hot start, B.J. struggled in equally massive proportions. With a .143/.225/.275 April and .147/.237/.206 May, B.J. Upton could go nowhere but up. That is, until manager Fredi Gonzalez said he may demote Upton – who signed a five-year $75 million contract before the 2013 season. After Gonzalez’s comments on June 1, Upton’s performance has improved significantly.
While Justin has cooled off, B.J. Upton has improved his most critical numbers in June. After striking out at 31.1% and 40.3% in the first two months, Upton has that number down to 23.1% in June. Additionally, after walking just 8.7% and 9.1% in April and May, he is walking at 20.5% in June. These numbers have translated into production in all facets, leading Upton to a .258/.410/.484 June slash line.
It was nearly impossible for Upton to continue at his early season paces, and his June numbers bear that out. With nearly elite speed, Upton will massively improve upon his .221 BABIP. He is striking out a large amount, but he will still reach base on a higher percentage of balls in play. Upton has played his typical plus defense in center field, which already nets him true value. He has hit a slightly lower number of line drives this season which is likely as a result of his struggles with velocity.
As Upton continues to get comfortable in Atlanta – a likely underrated component to his early season struggles – and the weather heats up into the summer months, his counting statistics should rebound like his on-base percentage already has.
Gabe Isaacson is a writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter: @gabeisaacson.