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MLB Atlanta Braves

Atlanta Braves Need B.J. Upton to Perform to Win in 2014

B.J. Upton

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The year of 2013 for the Atlanta Braves was nothing to write home about when it comes to B.J. Upton. Somehow, with the biggest contract on the payroll, Upton’s lack of success didn’t interfere with the success of the team as it won 96 games.

However, in 2014 the team will need him to begin to produce like a $13 million man should. It’s evident to some that Upton was never really worth the franchise record-setting contract by not hitting over .246 since 2009. On top of that low number, he will realistically hit 15-25 home runs in a season with 25 becoming a stretch at times. He’s also been very strikeout-prone and for the second straight season has an on-base percentage below .300. If the team will succeed this season, he will need to hit closer or above .250 and hit his 20 home runs.

Defensively, he can be among the best. Then again he can be among the loafers in the outfield. It was seen in 2013 with his offensive struggles on his mind that he could be a little lazy in the outfield. He has speed that could take over a game in the outfield. He can run down balls some other guys would have no chance at while having an average to above average arm.

That speed is what the Braves need him to provide more of in 2014. If he can increase his batting average and on-base percentage, he can run with the best of players. If he can prove that he can improve those statistics, we will probably see more of Upton in the No. 2 spot in the lineup.

If the Braves are going to win close to 90 games in 2014, they truly need B.J. to turn his 2013 season into a distant memory. In order for this to happen, Fredi Gonzalez needs to allow him to stay in the lineup when he is hot to see what he can really do. It’ll be a good season if he hits, but if not, it may be a long season in Atlanta for the team and Upton.

Steven Whitaker is an Atlanta Braves writer for Rantsports.com. Follow him on Twitter @CoachStevenWhit, “like” him on Facebook or add him to your circle on Google