When the Atlanta Braves got off to an offensive pace in 2013, it took the entire league by surprise. Most of that credit was due to Justin Upton and his gargantuan power numbers through the first few months of the season.
If the Braves have a chance at the NL East crown in 2014, Upton will have to hit at a high level, like he showed in spurts last season and over the course of his career.
However, judging by Upton’s career, his power numbers may be a little down this season. He’s a safe bet to hit close to his career .275 batting average, but his numbers are interesting every other season. In 2009, Upton hit 15 home run, which was followed by a 26 home run season. The 2011 season was Upton’s best as a major league hitter, hitting 31 home runs, yet followed in 2012 by only 17 home runs.
It’s certain that Upton is a tough player and has played through some injuries through his career that could cause the discrepancy, but the differences in the numbers from year to year should raise a small flag as the 2014 season begins, at least until he proves the numbers wrong.If he can stay healthy and be consistent, he can definitely hit 30 home runs quite easily.
He also has quite a bit more speed than the Braves gave him last season. He had at least 18 stolen bases in the last four years, yet only attempted nine in 2014. Granted, hitting in front of Freddie Freeman and company may keep any base runner from clearing the bases for their power, he should be given a few more chances to swipe an extra base and put himself into scoring position.