The Rays just went from playoff-lock to out of the playoffs in about 12.6 nanoseconds. So now we will introduce a semi-regular feature to see where we can or cannot lay the blame and determine just why this team is not very good these days. If you have anybody you would like to nominate for this feature, let’s hear it in the comments…
If it wasn’t obvious prior to this weekend, it should be abundantly clear now: the Rays clearly drafted from the shallow end of the Upton gene pool. And yes, it is easy to dump on BJ Upton after his abysmal display in yesterday’s game in which he loafed after a flyball, had to be restrained in the dugout, got picked off first base and displayed his warning track power to end the game.
But yesterday is not why Upton is a problem. Yesterday is just the perfect example of why Upton is a problem. And that problem needs to be fixed.
You want to say other players take plays off? Fine. But this isn’t Upton’s first rodeo. He has been benched twice on previous occasions by Joe Maddon for not giving 100%. If “everybody is doing it,” then why isn’t anybody else getting benched?
Or maybe you think Upton deserves a pass on the outfield play yesterday because he wasn’t playing with his normal left field partner and maybe Upton made the mistake of assuming Matt Joyce would get the ball. Fine. But our take has never been that Upton is “lazy,” as many have contended.
No, Upton is not lazy. He just sometimes appears to be absent-minded. Sometimes he forgets what he should be doing. Sometimes he forgets who else is in the game. Sometimes he chooses not to swing at pitches down the middle of the plate. Sometimes he takes naps at first base and gets picked off. OK, he does that more than “sometimes.”
And all of that would be fine if Upton was producing. But he is not. Here are his numbers from the last four seasons…
2007: .300-24-82, .894 OPS, .387 wOBA
2008: .273-9-67, .784 OPS, .354 wOBA
2009: .241-11-55, ..686 OPS, .310 wOBA
2010 (proj.): .226-15-63, .715, .330 wOBA
Decent numbers? Sure. Superstar in the making? Not even close.
His Baseball-Reference list of comparable players (by age) is a who’s who of mediocrity:
Melky Cabrera? No thanks.
But we can still depend on his defense, right? Let’s check out his UZR/150 for the last four seasons…
How bad is -8.1? In his last season as a full-time outfielder, Pat Burrell was only -12.2.
So Upton is not hitting. Heck he hasn’t hit since 2007 (unless you count the 2008 playoffs). And he isn’t even fielding well this season.
At what point do the Rays give up on holding out for a good offer in the trade market and just take the next one that comes along?