Not many players on the Atlanta Braves have faced the pressure like B.J. Upton has in his short time with the team. When GM Frank Wren signed him to a five-year contract worth $72.5 million, many fans believed they were getting the same player who helped build the Tampa Bay Rays into a contender in the AL East. Instead, Atlanta got an outfielder who somehow lost all confidence in his abilities with the bat.
However, after recent performances at the plate, Upton could be turning the corner for the Braves. For the first time in his career with the team he holds a batting average above .200. That might not sound like a big deal, but it is for a guy trying to regain his confidence. What’s an even better sign for Upton is the fact that he is now in the middle of a five-game hitting streak after recording a RBI double against the New York Mets today.
I know he had the chance to drive in more runs in the top of the seventh inning, but at this point any hit from Upton is huge. If he’s starting to round back into his old form, he would provide an immediate boost for the Atlanta offense. Besides Freddie Freeman and the emergence of his brother Justin Upton lately, the Braves haven’t really reached their full potential offensively.
Entering today’s game against the Mets, they had only recorded 69 runs on the season to put them at 20th in the majors. The big question mark to start the year, the pitching, is the reason for Atlanta’s success in the early going, and the Braves can’t expect them to continue to hold onto the best ERA in MLB. Yes, some pitchers such as Ervin Santana and Julio Teheran should still dominate, but others like Aaron Harang and Alex Wood will eventually need some help.
Both are overachieving right now, and it’s time for the offense to pick up the slack. Hopefully, Upton is one of those players who is turning the ship around, too. I don’t expect him to become the player who hit 28 home runs, had 78 RBIs and recorded a .248 batting average in his last year with the Rays. He doesn’t possess the same power anymore, but if he can hit for average and provide some timely hits to drive people in, it would pay off big time for the Braves.