The Atlanta Braves didn’t give B.J. Upton a franchise record setting contract to struggle to hit .200 with very little production to speak of. That’s just what they have done, though, right? He’s still striking out a ton, and with an on-base percentage of .276, he wouldn’t seem like the guy that I’d choose to put in the leadoff spot.
Yet, manager Fredi Gonzalez made the decision to put him right there. While Jason Heyward proved to be a potent bat at the top of the lineup, he only hit .254 in the spot this year, struggling to find any groove at the plate. When the project with Tommy La Stella proved to be unsuccessful, the Braves had to turn to Upton. He has the tools to be a great leadoff hitter, except for the fact that he is on pace to strike out over 200 times in 2014 which doesn’t really scream “leadoff hitter.”
However, since he has been in the leadoff position, he has an eight-game hitting streak, which is by far the longest he has had in 2014. The streak has raised his meager .202 average up to .209, making Gonzalez most likely feel like he has made a good decision. Granted, we are all waiting on Upton to earn the money that he is getting paid, but it’s hard to see him turning his game completely around in the snap of fingers.
It’d be hard to do much to get the Braves fans to feel better about Upton other than maybe going on a 30-game hitting streak, stealing about 30 bases and hit 20 home runs. That just isn’t going to happen this season for him, but the team can at least be hopeful that 2015 will be the season that they get what they paid for.